Extended effects or separability doctrine?

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.

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Arbitration and consortia

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).

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Arbitration in Italy’s 2020

Mountains of papers have been written, countless rhetorical statements and a handful of enlightening and careful considerations were spent to describe 2020 and how tragic and particular that year was.

I don’t intend to add my voice to that chorus. However, I would like to focus on two aspects, which in my opinion deserve the attention of the readers of this law journal.

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Corporate arbitration

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.

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Separability presumption

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).

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International corporate arbitration

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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Counterclaims and objection to Court’s jurisdiction

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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Joinder and arbitration

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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“Irrituale” arbitration in corporate matters

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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Bankruptcy receiver’s claims

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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