European Journal of Law and Economics

, Volume 47, Issue 2, pp 277–290 | Cite as

There ain’t no such thing as a free deed: the case of Italian notaries

  • Luciano LavecchiaEmail author
  • Carlo Stagnaro


The cost of starting a business in Italy is relatively high as compared with other EU member states. One reason is the cost of notarization, which is mandatory under the Italian law. In order to reduce this cost, in 2012 a new type of limited liability company was created—the simplified limited liability company—for which notarization should be provided free-of-charge. In this paper we explore the reasons behind the requirement of notarization and review the evidence from a few cases where notarization was made optional. Subsequently, we describe the results of an ad hoc experiment in order to evaluate the design of the policy. We performed a randomized control trial involving almost 350 notaries in Rome, Italy. We find that the majority of the notaries in our sample do not fulfill the obligation by asking a greater-than-zero fee, therefore suggesting the policy is not fully effective. We conclude that obliging notaries to perform specific tasks below-costs (or even free-of-charge) may not be an effective policy, leading to suboptimal results.


Notary Competition Italy Liberalization Productivity RCT 

JEL Classification

D23 C93 D43 



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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Istituto Bruno LeoniMilanItaly

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