In this decision, the Court of Cassation analyzed further aspects of implementing domestically the ‘ne bis in idem’ principle (Article 4 of the Protocol No. 7 to the ECHR) as interpreted by the ECHR Court, in its judgment of 2014 on the case Grande Stevens v. Italy. Accordingly, the application of the ‘ne bis in idem’ covers also sanctions for non-payment of VAT, which are qualified as administrative under Italian legislation, but are, as for their substance, of criminal nature. If of such a content as to render impossible interpretation in accordance with the ECHR Court’s decisions, said norms have to be deferred to the Constitutional Court, for assessing their constitutional legitimacy. The Court of Cassation further considers whether Article 4 of the Protocol No. 7 to the ECHR and the provisions on the same matter of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights (Article 50) are immediately applicable by Italian courts, as an effect of being part of EU legislation.
Judgment of the European Court of Human Rights, II Section, 4 March 2014, Grande Stevens and others v. Italy; Decision of the Constitutional Court No. 102 of 8 March 2016; Decision of the Court of Cassation, III Criminal Section, No. 38134 of 13 July 2016