Two virtually simultaneous decisions, issued by two different lower Courts, reached opposite conclusions (Court of Catania, decision No. 1020 of 13 March 2020, Italian text available here; and Court of Milan, decision No. 2091 of 11 March 2020, Italian text available here). The legal grounds of both these decisions are indicated under Article 118, para. 1, of the Implementing Provisions of Italian Code of Civil Procedure. In other words, they merely refer to judicial precedents.
The recent publication of two decisions issued by different national courts of first instance (Court of Civitavecchia, decision No. 2 of 7 January 2021, Italian text available here; and Court of Brindisi, decision No. 22 of 5 January 2021, Italian text available here) offers the opportunity to examine the ‘state of the art’ regarding the applicability of the corporate arbitration law to consortia (consorzi).
Italian law provisions on corporate arbitration (enacted by legislative decree no. 5 of 17 January 2003) entails a number of interpretative issues, possibly the reason for the limited recourse to arbitration in corporate matters.
Separability presumption is universally applied, as the relevant doctrine spread all over the world during the first half of XX century.
In the words of Italian lawmakers, “The validity of the arbitration clause must be evaluated independently of the underlying contract” (Article 808, para. 2, of the Italian Code of Civil Procedure).
International corporate arbitration under Italian law is a very interesting topic that nonetheless is virtually neglected by Italian scholars. Besides, to date there are no reported decisions.
First of all, a clarification of terminology is due: in this context, ‘international corporate arbitration’ means an abroad seated arbitration concerning a dispute falling within the scope of Article 34 of Italian Legislative Decree No. 5 of 17 January 2003, n. 5, which sets forth particular rules concerning arbitration in corporate matters.
In practice, possible cases of international commercial arbitration are not uncommon. For instance, an Italian incorporated company could represent the investment vehicle of a foreign entity. And that foreign entity could wish that corporate disputes (against an Italian co-investor, or the company’s directors) are referred to an abroad seated arbitration.
A few scholars addressed the relevant issue, which is also addressed by a recent decision issued by the Court of Appeal of Genoa (decision No. 649 of 9 July 2020, Italian text available here).
The Court of first instance of Milan issued an interesting decision addressing the relationship between counterclaims and objection to the Court’s jurisdiction raised by the counter-claimant (decision No. 10728 of 21 November 2019, Italian text available here).
The Court of first instance of Salerno recently heard a complex corporate case and its decision (No. 3296 of 21 October 2019, Italian text available here), together with the decision issued by the Court of Appeal of Salerno with reference to the same dispute (No. 1311 of 14 September 2018, Italian text available here), provides the perfect opportunity to carry out a brief analysis of the issues concerning “irrituale” arbitration in corporate matters, that is to say the relationship between the “irrituale” arbitration as governed by Italian Code of Civil Procedure and arbitration in corporate matters under Italian Legislative Decree No. 5 of 17 January 2003 .
As a matter of fact, Italian law provides for two different kinds of arbitration proceedings: on the one hand, “regular” (“rituale”) arbitration, resulting in an enforceable award; on the other hand, “irrituale” arbitration, whose award has the effect of a binding contract.
In addition, “irrituale” arbitration has certain other peculiarities: concerning, for instance, the recourse for its setting aside.
Corporate arbitration is a major topic for Italian arbitration practitioners. The Italian Supreme Court developed a doctrine and laid down principles not entirely right. Some lower Courts tried to take a more appropriate approach, but to no avail (I discussed this issue, for instance, in this post).
A recent decision issued by the Court of first instance of Bologna (No. 1378 of 13 June 2019, Italian text availabe here) ostensibly applied the right doctrine (or the doctrine I deem right); nonetheless, it came to the wrong conclusion.
The Milan Chamber of Arbitration published its new arbitration rules. These new rules apply to arbitration proceedings commenced after 1st March 2019 unless the parties have agreed, under Article 832 of the Italian code of civil procedure, that the arbitration proceedings shall be subject to the arbitration rules in force at the time of the stipulation of the arbitration clause (however, in this case, the Arbitration Chamber may refuse to manage the proceedings).
The new rules are available here.
A recent decision issued by the Court of Cosenza (no. 1171 of 4 June 2019, Italian text available here) addresses the topic of the scope of corporate arbitration clauses.