Much has been written, and much will still be written, about the recent reform of Italian arbitration law. The undeniable merit of this reform is that it brings the Italian system closer to that of other jurisdictions sharing the same civilizational perspective. The changes that have (finally) allowed arbitrators to issue interim and precautionary measures, as well as those concerning the disclosure and disqualification of arbitrators, should indeed be interpreted in this sense. Italy is now among the most advanced jurisdictions, with changes that include the choice of applicable law, allowing parties and arbitrators to apply non-state rules such as lex mercatoria.
A recent decision issued by the Court of Appeal of Milan (No. 1946 of 23 June 2021, Italian text available here) deals with a topic of great interest and practical relevance. This topic concerns the relationship between arbitration proceedings and parallel proceedings in a Court of law (which in that particular case were criminal proceedings).
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.