In Law, civil liability falls under the broader field of juridical liabilities.
In particular, it identifies an entire institution which aims to identify the party to be charged with paying damages made to the other party. The latter may consider civil liability as a synonym of the atoning obligation imposed on the responsible party.
Civil liability, intended as Italian Law institution, is based on a plurality of norms, starting from those included in the Italian Civil Code (Articles 2043 et seq. and articles 1218 et seq.).
There are other rules provided for specific cases (for instance, articles 10 and 874 of the Civil Code and art.15 of the legislative decree, 30th June 2003, n.196; articles 114 et seq. of legislative decree 6th September 2005, n.206), not to mention the broad normative production that aims to protect the Consumer, Safety on Workplace, manufacturing and business Competition, etc.
Civil liability contains the discipline of the so-called “civil wrong” (or Tort) described in general terms in the art. 2043 of the civil code, that obliges whoever unjustly damages, through a fraudulent or malicious deed, another party, to compensate for the damage:
“Any fraudulent or malicious deed, damaging unjustly the another party, obliges the party responsible for the damage to compensate for it”.
Committing an unjust deed – due to the presence in the Italian system of circumstances of absolute liability and of liability due to another party – is not the only issue that the institution deals with: it is only one of the possible deeds arising the issue of liability. It follows, that the obligation to compensation (civil liability in the strict sense) carries out a non-permanent function in Law: such obligation has a punishing role (private punishment) when provided for unjust deeds; it has a compensative role, when due to deeds not imputable to any blame.
Traditionally, civil liability is divided into contractual and tort law. The former has a minor role (logic-systemic type, not a case history), meaning that civil liability is of the first type when the deed that originated the case corresponds to non-fulfilment of a compulsory obligation, whichever the origin; it is of the latter type in all other cases.