Arbitrability of disputes arising out of the termination of a contract: in my opinion, this is a very interesting topic, both for its theoretical and practical consequences. In fact, I have already addressed this topic, a few months ago (in this post), in relation to contractual restitutions, commenting a decision by the Court of Milan that in my view misapplied the principles governing the matter.
A recent decision issued by the Court of first instance of Rome (No. 1695 of 27 January 2020, Italian text available here) gives me the chance to examine again the topic, from a partially different point of view.
Pre-contractual liability, under Italian law, is a form of tort liability. In a nutshell (and with some degree of approximation), it concerns cases similar to those provided for by English Misrepresentation Act 1967, as well as other cases falling outside the scope of the said Act involving a breach of the duty to act in good faith during the negotiations aimed at entering into a contract.
In this respect, a topic of great interest is that of the enforceability of the arbitration agreement possibly contained in the contract in case of pre-contractual claims (or tort claims related to the negotiation, the execution and the fulfilment of the contract).
A recent decision issued by the Court of first instance of Milan (No. 58 of 8 January 2020, Italian text available here) addressed the same topic. In my opinion, such decision is really impressive, both for its detailed and thorough grounds and for the conclusions it reached.
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).
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).
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.
The arbitration clause, in Italian jurisdiction as well as in a number of other jurisdictions, does not constitute an ancillary clause of the underlying contract. On the contrary, it constitutes a separate contract with procedural effects. This principle is usually referred to as separability doctrine.
Under Italian law, this doctrine, based on Article 808 of the Italian Code of Civil Procedure (whereby "The validity of the arbitration clause must be evaluated independently of the underlying contract"), is only derogated in bankruptcy matters (under Article 83-bis of Italian bankruptcy law: I have examined the issue in this post).
This doctrine must also be taken into account if an agreement to agree (which is valid and enforceable under Italian law, and it is quite common in construction and conveyancing) is entered into, containing an arbitration clause, and the subsequent agreement does not contain the arbitration clause. I have already examined this topic a few years ago (in this post). Nonetheless, in the light of its relevance, also from a practical point of view, I consider that it is appropriate to examine it again. The opportunity to do so is offered by a recent decision issued by the Court of Appeal of Brescia (decision No. 1474 of 10 October 2019, Italian text available here).
A contract contains an arbitration clause whereby the parties’ disputes are referred to arbitration. Notwithstanding the said clause, a party sues the other party in State Court. The respondent objects to the Court’s jurisdiction, on the basis of the arbitration clause, but the Court issues a wrong decision, rejects the objection and upholds its jurisdiction. In such a case, what is the appellate Court that the respondent should seize to have the first decision overturned?
Two recent decisions, issued a day apart by two different Courts of Appeal (decision of the Court of Appeal of Catanzaro No. 1782 of 19 September 2019, Italian text available here; and decision of the Court of Appeal of Potenza No. 636 of 20 September 2019, Italian text available here), offer two different answers to the above question: the Court of Appeal of Catanzaro holds that the appeal has to be submitted to the Court of Appeal, while the Court of Appeal of Potenza states that it has to be filed with the Italian Supreme Court. Both decisions are correct because they concern two different kinds of arbitration proceedings.
The Italian Supreme Court has recently upheld its doctrine on the circulation of the arbitration clause in case of credit assignment (Italian Supreme Court, First Civil Chamber, decision No. 16127 of 14 June 2019, Italian text available here).
I have already examined this topic (in this post); nonetheless, in the light of its relevance, I believe that it is worth re-examining it.
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.