This essay incorporates the results of an ethnographic-legal investigation promoted by the “Accademia del Notariato” and carried out among a sample of Italian notaries in order to identify issues that arise when legal assistance, particularly from notaries, is provided to foreign clients. The methodological approach applied consists of qualitative research. The theoretical paradigm guiding both the design and the implementation of the survey can be designated as: “intercultural law.” The presentation of the search results is to be intended, in turn, as a bridge to pave the way for training courses for intercultural jurists and legal practitioners. The issues raised span several different areas of legal experience and notarial practice including contracts and bargaining, succession, family and business matters, corporate concerns, rights in rem, property regimes related to the circulations of goods, etc.
The particular institutional position of the notary and its specific commitment to supply legal assistance — which serves as a level of support that occurs before people commit legally relevant acts — allows the potentialities of a “timely intercultural law” to come to light. These potentialities can be synthetized in such a formula precisely because they are suitable for promoting processes of intercultural integration and coordination between state laws and foreigners’ schemas of action before conflicts arise or, (in the best-case scenario!) end up in the courts. In such a way cultural differences can be combined and adjusted with the national legal system by virtue of its semantic resources and modularity. Italian notaries, therefore, can be seen as a sort of professional prototype of the pre- and anti-litigation function which could be performed by all legal practitioners, if properly prepared so as to include within legal experience devices and solutions that rely on a timely intercultural use of the law.
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