A recent decision of the Court of Appeal of Catanzaro (no. 1478 of 22 September 2016, Italian text available here) sums up the current doctrine of arbitrability of corporate disputes.
Corporate disputes are capable of arbitration, under Italian law, if they concern negotiable rights (Art. 34(1) of Legislative Decree no. 5 of 17 January 2003). Therefore, the question is: what does “negotiable rights” mean?
The Court of first instance of Florence established an interesting doctrine of arbitrability of corporate disputes, which is enunciated in a recent decision (no. 2906 of 8 September 2016, Italian text available here).
I already examined that doctrine (in this post); moreover, the issue of arbitrability of corporate disputes has often been mentioned on this blog (for instance, in this post, in this one and this one too).
If the Articles of Association of a company contain an arbitration clause, does that clause apply to disputes concerning the transfer of shares? This topic was recently discussed in the Court of first instance of Catania (decision no. 3127 of 7 June 2016, Italian text available here), which has replied negatively to this question.
A recent decision of the Court of first instance Naples (decision no. 4874 of 19 April 2016, Italian text available here) follows the (outdated) line of cases, according to which two different types of corporate arbitration would be possible: on the one hand, corporate arbitration pursuant to article 34(2) of Legislative Decree 5/2003 (which states that “the arbitration clause shall specify the number of the arbitrators and how to appoint them. In any case, the arbitrators shall be appointed by a third party unrelated to the company; otherwise, the clause shall be deemed as null and void (…)”); and on the other hand, common arbitration pursuant to Article 808 of Italian Code of Civil Procedure. This is the so-called “twin-track”, which has already been discussed in this post.
A recent decision by the Court of first instance of Florence (decision no. 1129 of 21 March 2016 of III Civil Chamber of the Court of first instance of Florence, Italian text available here) re-opens the debate on the topic of arbitrability of corporate disputes, and it is particularly notable for the clarity of its reasoning.
The Supreme Court addressed the arbitrability of disputes between companies and directors concerning the directors’ remuneration (decision no. 2759 of 11 February 2016 of the I Civil Chamber, Italian text available here).
A recent ruling of the Court of first instance of Rome (decision no. 25936 of 30 December 2015, Italian text available here) brings up the issue of the arbitrability of corporate disputes, in particular those relating to the challenge of resolutions of company’s general meetings.
Decision no. 22008 of 28 October 2015 of the I Civil Chamber of the Supreme Court (Italian text available here) followed the line of cases opposing the so-called “twin-track approach” to corporate arbitration. This judgment ruled that the only arbitration clause that may be stipulated in the Articles of association of an Italian unlisted company is the one pursuant to Article 34 of Legislative Decree no. 5 of 17 January 2003.
The Supreme Court confirmed the non arbitrability of disputes concerning the challenge of company’s resolutions approving the financial statements (order no. 17950 of 10 September 2015 of the VI Civil Chamber of the Supreme Court, Italian full text available here).
Order no. 17283 of 28 August 2015 of the Italian Supreme Court affirmed the jurisdiction of an Arbitral Tribunal on the challenge of certain shareholders’ resolutions, pursuant to the arbitration clause stipulated in the company’s Articles of associations. The clause at hand only referred to the arbitrators “all disputes which may arise between the company and any shareholder or among the shareholders (…) concerning the company’s activities.” The Italian full text of the order is available here.