Science at the Italian Bar:
The Case of Hydroxychloroquine

by Paola Monaco

Due to the increasing number of legal questions which cannot be answered without recourse to scientific knowledge, the issues surrounding the relation between science and the law have become a hot topic in legal debate. For this reason, it is not surprising that the tragedy of COVID-19 is raising many questions for lawyers to be debated in court. In the light of this, the paper aims to analyse one very interesting example of the use of scientific knowledge by an Italian (administrative) court: order no 9070 of the Italian Council of State (Consiglio di Stato) of 11 December 2020, through which the highest administrative court suspended the decision of the Italian Medicines Agency (AIFA) to forbid the off-label use of a drug (hydroxychloroquine – HCQ) in the treatment of COVID-19. After having analysed the main points on which the Italian Council of State decision is based, the essay will offer some considerations on how legal scholarship, across both common and civil law jurisdictions, has tried to offer some solutions to the problem of courts dealing with scientific or technical knowledge. In the conclusions it will be verified whether these principles might be useful and applicable before administrative courts as well.

DOI 10.23815/2421-2156.ITALJ           ISSN 2421-2156

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