M.C. and others v. Italy | 2013

Fair compensation for victims of infected blood scandal

Angelo Magrini, head of an association of victims, said [the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights] was an “important victory”, estimating around 60,000 people in Italy were contaminated by blood transfusions.



In 1992, Italy passed a law to compensate people who had contracted viruses, including HIV and hepatitis, because of botched blood transfusions. The compensation was made up of a fixed sum and a regular allowance.

For many victims, the monthly allowance helped pay for treating serious health problems caused by their conditions.

However, these amounts were cast into doubt by a complex legal debate over whether the compensation should be adjusted for inflation.

In 2010, the government ended inflation-adjusted compensation after thousands of victims tried to apply for it.

But Italy’s constitutional court said the new law was unfair because it treated infected blood victims differently to those harmed by the Thalidomide drug, who had a recognised right to inflation-adjusted compensation.

The authorities did not react to the ruling. As a result, victims who were previously entitled to an annual revaluation either lost their adjusted payments – amounting to around €200 per month for some people – or discovered that court decisions in their cases were effectively ignored. Others waiting for decisions found that their applications were suddenly dismissed or rejected.

162 people – victims or their loved ones – turned to the European Court of Human Rights for justice.


Judgment of the European Court of Human Rights

The European court ruled that Italy violated the victims’ human rights, including their right to a fair hearing, their right to property and their right to non-discrimination.

The court attached particular importance to medical expertise which said that the compensation was directly linked to their chances of survival and recovery.

As many more people in Italy were potentially experiencing the same problem, the European court used its ‘pilot judgment’ procedure, which is a way of dealing with widespread problems.

The court insisted that the Italian government take measures to protect victims’ rights within six months of the judgment, and to make inflation-adjusted back payments to those affected.

In the court’s opinion, the adoption of [the 2010 law] placed an abnormal and excessive burden on the [victims]…

Judgment of the European Court of Human Rights, September 2013


In response to the European court’s judgment, the Italian authorities at central and regional level made back payments totalling hundreds of millions of euros to victims or their heirs.

Italy also made sure that ongoing payments were adjusted to inflation.