Waiver of the right to arbitrate

The Court of first instance of Rome (decision no. 19215 of 28 September 2015, Italian text available here) ruled in a complex case concerning the relationship between a limited liability company and its former director. First of all, the company sued the former director before the Court, claiming his liability. In a second case (the case of the decision at hand), the former director requested the Court to issue a payment order against the company, in order to obtain the amounts allegedly owed to him. The parties did not take into account the arbitration clause stipulated in Article 26 of the Articles of association. This provision notes that “all controversies arising among the quotaholders or among the quotaholders and the company, the directors, liquidators and statutory auditors shall be settled by a sole arbitrator appointed by the President of the Certified Public Accountants Register of the place where the company has its registered office (….).” In the judicial proceedings commenced by the company, the former director objected that the Court did not have jurisdiction, due to the above mentioned arbitration clause. On its turn, the company raised this objection when challenging the payment order issued in favour of the former director.

Did the parties waive their right to arbitrate, by initiating Court proceedings?

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Once again, on arbitration and insolvency

Two recent rulings of the Italian Supreme Court analysed the relationship between arbitration and insolvency proceedings.

The first ruling (decision no. 13089 of 24 June 2015 of the of the I Civil Chamber of the Supreme Court, Italian text available here) established that “claims against a bankrupt party may not be brought before an Arbitral Tribunal.  Indeed, the jurisdiction of the arbitrators is in any case prevented due to the prevailing jurisdiction of the Insolvency Courts on such claims.” 

The second ruling is more interesting (decision no. 15200 of 21 July 2015 of the Supreme Court sitting en banc, Italian text available here). This judgment focused on the issue of the relationship between arbitration and insolvency when an arbitration procedure is pending abroad and therefore EC Regulation no. 1346 of 29 May 1999 concerning insolvency proceedings applies.

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Construction of the arbitration clause contained in the Articles of association

In its decision no. 10610 of 22 September 2015, the Court of first instance of Milan declared its lack of jurisdiction on the challenge of a resolution of a cooperative company. The Court used a broad construction of the arbitration clause contained in the company’s Articles of association. The Italian full text of the decision is available here.

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Arbitration and shareholders’ loan

If an arbitration clause is stipulated in the company’s Articles of association, disputes between a former shareholder and the company, concerning the repayment of a shareholders’ loan, shall be referred to an Arbitral Tribunal. This is, in a nutshell, the rationale of decision no. 18316 of 17 September 2015 of the Third Civil Chamber of the Court of first instance of Rome (the Italian full text is available here).

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Once again, on arbitration and companies financial statements

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).

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Arbitrators’ fees

In its decision no. 17956 of 11 September 2015, the Supreme Court applied for the first time Article 816/septies of the Italian Code of Civil Procedure concerning the arbitrators’ fees. In this decision, the Court examined the scope and conditions of application of the above mentioned provision. The Italian full text of the decision is available here.

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Challenge of shareholders’ resolutions

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.

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CAM’s guidelines for Tribunal-appointed experts

The Chamber of Arbitration of Milan has recently issued its guidelines for Tribunal-appointed experts in arbitration proceedings administered by the Chamber.

These guidelines are available on the CAM’s website and you may easily access them by clicking here.

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Arbitration and companies financial statements

The Court of first instance of Milan went back to analyse the relationship between Courts’ jurisdiction and the jurisdiction of Arbitral Tribunals, with respect to the challenge of the resolution approving the company’s financial statements (in this case, a limited liability company whose Articles of association included an arbitration clause). The Italian full text of the decision (decision no. 9115 of 28 July 2015 of the Court of first instance of Milan) is available here.

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Construction of arbitration clause

The wording of the arbitration clause should be carefully selected, as it constitutes the basis of the jurisdiction of the Arbitral Tribunal.  A possible wrong wording will not always be emended, once the dispute has arisen.

Nevertheless, it is commonplace that due attention is not devoted to this clause, either because it is inserted at the last minute in an agreement (known as the “midnight clause” effect), or because the agreement is reached after long negotiation on its commercial terms, underestimating the risk of a possible dispute.

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