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).
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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).
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In certain cases, Italian law requires the joinder of certain parties to the proceedings. For instance, as a general rule, the action aimed at setting aside a contract requires the joinder of all parties thereof.
The topic of such compulsory joinder in arbitration proceedings is partly governed by statutory law (Articles 816-quater and 816-quinquies of the Italian Code of Civil Procedure); nonetheless, its implementation gives rise to several turmoils (as it was noted by a learned author).
What happens if the party whose joinder is required by law is not joined to the proceedings? A possible answer to that question is provided by the Court of Appeal of Campobasso, in its recent ruling (No. 367 of November 7, 2019, Italian text available here).
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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.
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A recent decision issued by the Italian Supreme Court (Italian Supreme Court, I Civil Chamber, decision No. 24444 of 30 September 2019, Italian text available here) concerns the Arbitral Tribunals’ jurisdiction over claims raised by the bankruptcy receiver.
I consider this topic of great interest: I already examined it in the past (for example in this post) and in a few days it will be discussed during a debate organised by Milan Arbitration Chamber.
The said decision is also interesting because it summarised the general principles of the matter and applied them to a very peculiar case that had not been heard in previous reported judgments. This peculiar case is the claim that the bankruptcy receiver may raise under Article 150 of Italian bankruptcy law currently in force: the receiver is entitled to request the Court to issue an order for payment (under Italian law, an ex parte order) towards the shareholders of the bankrupt company with respect to the overdue capital contribution.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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).
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