The Italian Almanac

Cassation Court

A Mere Assesment

Telling someone they're talking bulls**t isn't offensive, Italy's highest court ruled. The term "cannot be construed as an offence against the person if it is a mere assessment of the merits of his arguments," the Cassation Court ruled in a 2003 parking row.

The defendant, Davide S., and his father got into an argument with a lawyer who insisted on parking his car in a condo lot near Venice despite an agreement that the carpark was too small for everybody. When the lawyer, Giancarlo M., continued to remonstrate, Davide allegedly told his father: "Let's go Dad, we've got more important things to do than listen to his bulls**t". The angry lawyer sued and secured damages in 2004 but an appeals court overturned the ruling a year later.

The Cassation Court said Giancarlo M. had no cause to get so annoyed and no legal entitlement to damages since the term BS was "certainly offensive but in this case merely descriptive, in the defendant's view, of a baseless argument".The lawyer was instructed to pay court costs.