A proposal for Italian arbitration

In order to access the Recovery Fund, EU member States are required to draft a “National Recovery and Resilience Plan”, consistent with the specific recommendations the Europen Commission addressed them.

In that perspective, Italian government recently made available a preliminary document, headed “Guidelines for the definition of the national recovery and resilience plan” (Italian text available here). A short, forty-page document, with two pages only on Italian judicial system.

In fact, the said guidelines contain vague indications with respect to Italian judicial system and Italian justice: they only claim a number of nebulous, undefined proposed goals (shortening the duration of Court proceedings; reforming codes of civil, criminal and tax proceedings; planning interventions on the Italian judiciary organisation). Nothing else.

Following the publication of these guidelines, Unione Nazionale delle Camere Civili, that is to say, the association representing Italian civil lawyers, published its proposal for an extraordinary plan for civil justice (Italian text available here). It took an admirable initiative, as it triggers (or it could be able to trigger) a broad debate on possible specific, practical measures.

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A never signed arbitration clause

An Arbitral Tribunal seated in Padua recently dealt with some issues concerning its jurisdiction. The award was delivered on 21 January 2020 and its Italian text is available here.

The dispute heard by the Tribunal referred to an alleged relationship between a bank and a limited company evidenced by a framework agreement and an interest rate swap contract.

The claimant’s case was that the said contractual documents were never signed by its legal representative and that the signature on them was forged. As a consequence, the claimant requested the respondent to return the amounts the latter received under the terms of the said contracts.

An interesting point is that the claimant commenced the arbitration proceedings provided for by the arbitration clause contained in the contracts that, in its own case, it never entered into.

Another interesting point is that, on the basis of the opinion of a Tribunal-appointed expert, the claimant’s signature on the contracts actually proved to be forged. The respondent did not raise any objection after the filing of the expert opinion. Nonetheless, when the Tribunal requested the parties to express their views on the matter, the respondent objected to the Tribunal’s jurisdiction, lacking an enforceable (and even existing) arbitration clause.

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CAM simplified arbitration

The Arbitration Rules of Milan Arbitration Chamber, which came into force a year ago (as discussed here), has recently been integrated.  The new provisions, applying from 1st July 2020, establish a simplified arbitration procedure. 

The said new provisions are contained in Annex D to the arbitration rules, available here (for the time being, only in Italian) 

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Arbitration in the time of CoViD-19

CoViD-19 pandemic also has an impact on arbitration proceedings.

The relevant issues were addressed by Italian lawmaker, that enacted provisions which require careful thought for their construction.

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Arbitration and tort claims

A recent decision issued by the Court of Milan (No. 1684 of 24 February 2020, Italian text available here) concerns a very interesting topic, that of Arbitral Tribunals jurisdiction over non-contractual claims related to a contract.

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Liquidated damages, termination and arbitration

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.

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Pre-contractual liability and arbitration

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).

I have already written some posts concerning that topic (available, for example, here and here) and an article of mine will be published soon in the Italian law review Danno e ResponsabilitĂ .

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.

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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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