A recent decision issued by the Italian Supreme Court (decision No. 1788 of 28 January 2021, Italian text available here) deals with the issue of public policy and its relevance in arbitration matters.
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.
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).
The wording of the arbitration clause is of utmost importance: this is a subject I have already dealt with (for instance in this post). A recent decision of the Court of Appeal of Milan (No. 2528 of 10 June 2019, Italian text available here) confirms this importance also with respect to the possible recourse for setting aside the award.
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.
In the last months, the international arbitration community has discussed on a new topic: the Rules on the efficient conduct of proceedings in international arbitration (Prague Rules), officially presented on 14 December 2018 and available here.
A recent decision of the Court of first instance of Catania (decision no. 4041 of 19 July 2016, Italian text available here) focused on the relationship between corporate arbitration and interim measures and it is particularly interesting for its potential impact.
A recent ruling of the Court of first instance of Rome (decision no. 4216 of 1 March 2016 of the III Civil Chamber of the Court of first instance of Rome, Italian text available here) goes trough the issue of the relationship between arbitral and judicial proceedings. In particular, the ruling considers whether it is possible to order the stay of proceedings pending in Court, while awaiting the decision in other proceedings pending before an Arbitral Tribunal. This is an issue I already analysed on this post.
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.
Two recent rulings of the Italian Supreme Court analysed the relationship between arbitration and insolvency proceedings.
The first ruling (decision no. 13089 of 24 June 2015 of the of the I Civil Chamber of the Supreme Court, Italian text available here) established that “claims against a bankrupt party may not be brought before an Arbitral Tribunal. Indeed, the jurisdiction of the arbitrators is in any case prevented due to the prevailing jurisdiction of the Insolvency Courts on such claims.”
The second ruling is more interesting (decision no. 15200 of 21 July 2015 of the Supreme Court sitting en banc, Italian text available here). This judgment focused on the issue of the relationship between arbitration and insolvency when an arbitration procedure is pending abroad and therefore EC Regulation no. 1346 of 29 May 1999 concerning insolvency proceedings applies.