1 March 2023 represents an important date for Italian arbitration practitioners. The Italian Code of Civil Procedure reform enters into force, containing targeted but extremely relevant interventions for arbitration matters. In addition, the new Arbitration Rules of the Milan Chamber of Arbitration also enter into force (their Italian text is available here).
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.
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.
Italian Arbitration Law, as amended in 2006, expressly provides for the parties to enter into an arbitration clause concerning their possible tort disputes. Indeed, Article 808(b) of Italian Code of Civil Procedure, as enacted by 2006 reform, sets forth that “The parties may establish, in a specific agreement, that future disputes relating to one or more specific non-contractual relations be decided by arbitrators (…).“
There are only a few reported cases concerning Article 808(b) of Italian Code of Civil Procedure, and therefore it appears that that tool is rarely used. Nonetheless, it could be very helpful: for instance, in the case of related actions, it could prevent the doctrine of “parallel paths” from applying.
A recent decision of the Italian Supreme Court (Supreme Court, VI Civil Chamber, decision no. 20673 of 13 October 2016, Italian text available here) deals with that matter. As far as I know, it is the first decision issued by the Italian Supreme Court concerning the construction of Article 808(b) of Italian Code of Civil Procedure.
The Supreme Court recently ruled on an interesting matter. The case dealt with the consequences of the prohibition to undertake or continue economic transactions with a sovereign State (a State under embargo), with respect to an arbitration clause stipulated in an agreement previously entered into with the embargoed State.
The Italian full text of decision no. 23893 of the Supreme Court sitting en banc of 24 November 2015 is available here.
A recent judgment of the Supreme Court (decision no. 18707 of 22 September 2015, Italian text available here) dealt with a very peculiar case. A party objected that an arbitration clause was unenforceable, since it included an additional preposition (more precisely the preposition “di”, which in Italian means “of”).
In this case, the Supreme Court, as well as the Court of first instance, avoided a formalistic excess. The Court did not repeat the old case, referred to by Gaius, in which a party lost the case due to a lexical mistake.
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.
Italy will continue to be represented by Prof. Luigi Fumagalli, and Cecilia Carrara was appointed as an alternative member.
In insolvency matters, Italian law does not favour arbitration. On the one hand, the vis attractiva concorsus principle pursuant to article 24(1) of the Italian Insolvency Law states that “the Court which opens the insolvency proceedings shall have jurisdiction on all the civil actions resulting from such proceedings.” On the other hand, Article 83/bis of the Italian Insolvency Law notes that “if a contract containing an arbitration clause is terminated in accordance with the provisions of this Section, the pending arbitration proceedings shall not continue.” The interaction between both Articles results in a significant reduction of the scope of the arbitrability of the disputes a party to which is subject to insolvency proceedings. And this reduction also interferes with the principle of separability of the arbitration clause. Indeed, the explanatory memorandum to the decree introducing the comprehensive reform of the Italian Insolvency Law states that “(…) the already pending arbitration proceedings shall not continue if the contract containing the arbitration clause is terminated pursuant to the provisions of section IV. The purpose is to prevent that the arbitration proceedings survives the agreement, terminated as a consequence of the bankruptcy, which contained the arbitration clause.”
A recent order of the Supreme Court sitting en banc (order no. 10800 of 26 May 2015, Italian text available here) concerns the relationship between arbitration (in the case at hand, international arbitration) and insolvency proceedings.