Given the well-known duration of Italian court proceedings, arbitration is an appealing alternative for resolving disputes subject to Italian law. International arbitration in Italy is governed by the Italian Code of Civil Procedure – Book IV, Title VIII, Articles 806-840 (“CPC” or “Italian arbitration law”).
Even though the arbitration rules provided in the CPC are not formally based on the UNCITRAL Model Law on Commercial Arbitration (“UNCITRAL Model Law”), today, there are no substantial differences between the two. Italian arbitration law is even more aligned with the UNCITRAL Model Law after the two major reforms of the Italian arbitration legal framework enacted by Legislative Decree No. 40/2006 of 2 February 2006 (“2006 Reform”) and the most recent amendments enacted by Legislative Decree No. 149/2022 of 10 October 2022 (“2022 Reform”), which will enter into force this year. The intention of Italian legislators is self-evident. Both reforms have the same goal: establishing arbitration as a viable alternative to State courts while making Italy a more attractive seat for international arbitration and aligning its legislative framework with other popular seats.
Legislative Framework for Arbitration in Italy
The main rules governing arbitration proceedings in Italy are provided in Articles 806-840 of the CPC and are structured as follows:
- Chapter I (Articles 806-808): submission to arbitration and arbitration agreement;
- Chapter II (Articles 809-815): the arbitrators (i.e., number, appointment, replacement, incapacity, acceptance and duties, rights and challenge of the arbitrators);
- Chapter III (Articles 816-819): the proceedings (i.e., the seat of arbitration, procedural rules, evidence and stay of the proceedings, objections to lack of jurisdiction, connected cases (“connessione”), hearing of witnesses, etc.);
- Chapter IV (Articles 820-826): the award (i.e., time limit, content, effects and correction);
- Chapter V (Articles 827-831): recourse against the award (i.e., means of recourse, nullity, revocation and third-party opposition);
- Chapter VI (Articles 832): international arbitration pursuant to pre-established arbitral rules;
- Chapter VII (Articles 839-840): the recognition and enforcement of foreign arbitral Awards.
The same rules apply to domestic, ad hoc, and international arbitrations seated in Italy unless the parties have otherwise agreed in the arbitration agreement or the applicable arbitration rules.
Arbitration Agreements under Italian Law
Pursuant to Italian arbitration law, the arbitration agreement has to (1) be in writing and (2) indicate the subject matter of the dispute. Otherwise, the arbitration agreement is considered null and void. The parties may also agree by a specific agreement to submit future disputes relating to one or more non-contractual matters to arbitration, whereas such an agreement must meet the same requirements established in Article 807 of the CPC (i.e., be in writing and indicate the subject matter of the dispute).
The arbitration agreement shall also contain the appointment of the arbitrators or establish their number and the manner in which they are to be appointed. If the parties disagree on the number of arbitrators, the default number shall be three. The CPC explicitly provides for the separability of the arbitration clause from the main contract. Article 817 of the CPC also explicitly codifies the principle of competence-competence, which provides that arbitral tribunals are empowered to rule upon their own jurisdiction.
Arbitrability of Disputes under Italian Law
Under Italian arbitration law, a general rule is that only disputes which concern disposable rights are regarded arbitrable. Which disputes are considered non-arbitrable is regulated by specific laws regulating various different areas of law. For instance, disputes regarding family matters and criminal liability are traditionally considered to be non-arbitrable, as well as disputes relating to rights strictly belonging to the holder of which the holder cannot freely dispose (e.g., citizenship, nationality, in-person rights, etc.). In addition, tax disputes and disputes concerning inalienable rights are also considered to be non-arbitrable.
Regarding labour disputes, arbitration is allowed only if this is provided by collective employment agreements and with certain limited exceptions, in which case the award will only have contractual effects between the parties (so-called “arbitrato irrituale”). This is a peculiar feature of the Italian system, which distinguishes between (1) “arbitrato rituale” or “ordinary arbitration”, which is the ordinary type of arbitral proceedings governed by the CPC rules; and (2) “arbitrato irrituale” or “free arbitration”, which is an alternative arbitration procedure that results in an award that is binding only upon the parties, i.e., has contractual effects but is not enforceable (Article 808-ter CPC). 
Changes to Italian Arbitration Law Introduced in 2022 – Is Italy Becoming a More Arbitration-Friendly Jurisdiction?
A comprehensive reform of Italian arbitration regulations was enacted by the Italian Government by Legislative Decree No. 149/2022, which implemented Delegated Act No. 206 of 26 November 2021. The goal of the reform was to make Italy a more attractive, modern, and arbitration-friendly jurisdiction and to achieve the goals set forth in the National Recovery and Resilience Plan. The changes take effect as of 30 June 2023 and apply to proceedings commenced after this date.
The most significant changes implemented via the 2022 Reform may be summarized as follows:
Before the 2022 Reform, Italy was one of very few developed countries where tribunals did not have the power to grant interim measures. This was rightfully criticized as a major setback of the former regime, as Article 818 of the CPC expressly provided that arbitrators did not have the power to grant “attachments” or “interim measures”. The revised Article 818 of the CPC now introduces a possibility for the parties to give arbitrators the power to issue interim measures (either in the arbitration clause or indirectly through a reference to institutional rules).
This is a positive development as Italy lagged behind major jurisdictions where the power of arbitral tribunals to issue provisional measures is a general rule. Legislative Decree No. 149/2022 also added a new Article 818-ter, which provides that interim measures granted by arbitral tribunals shall be enforced under the control of the competent court.
This is an important change to Italian arbitration law as it shifts from giving exclusive jurisdiction to grant interim measures from Italian courts to arbitrators while leaving such choice to the parties.
Impartiality and Independence of Arbitrators in Italy
Article 813 of the CPC provides that the acceptance of the arbitrators must be in writing. Article 814 lists the rights of arbitrators, whereas Article 815 sets out the procedure for their challenge. To make arbitration more “transparent”, these articles have further been amended by the 2022 amendments.
Amended Article 813 requires each arbitrator to declare all the circumstances that might compromise their impartiality and independence in writing. In case of a lack of such a declaration, the arbitrators’ acceptance will be considered null and void. If the arbitrator has provided a declaration, but the declaration lacks information as to the relevant circumstances that might compromise their impartiality and independence, he/she may be challenged under Article 815 of the CPC. The circumstances to be disclosed are listed in Article 815 of the CPC and include:
(1) if he/she does not have the qualities foreseen by the parties in their agreement;
(2) if he/she or an entity, association or company of which he/she is a director, has an interest in the case;
(3) if he/she or his/her spouse is a relative up to the fourth degree or a cohabitant or a habitual table companion of a party, one of its legal representatives or counsel;
(4) if he/she or his/her spouse has a pending suit against or a serious enmity to one of the parties, one of its legal representatives or counsel;
(5) the existence of a link (including continuous professional relationships) between the arbitrator and one of the parties;
(6) if he/she has given advice, assistance or acted as legal counsel to one of the parties in a prior phase of the same case or has testified as a witness;
(6-bis) the existence of other significant reasons to be disclosed.
Transfer of Claims Between Judges and Arbitrators (“Translatio Iudicii”)
The transfer of claims from arbitration proceedings to courts and vice versa (so-called “translatio iudicii”) is not uncommon in Italian practice. This has now been regulated in the newly amended articles of the CPC. The newly introduced article specifies that in cases where jurisdiction is declined (either by the court or the arbitrator), it is possible for the parties to preserve the substantive and procedural effects of the claim. This is to occur within three months after the decision taken by the judge (or the arbitrator) on its lack of jurisdiction becomes final. The newly introduced provision of the CPC provides that after “translatio iudicii”, procedural activities carried out either before a judge or the arbitrator will not be lost, and evidence gathered can be used in the other proceedings.
Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards in Italy
Italian rules on the recognition and enforcement of foreign arbitral awards are provided in Articles 839 to 840 of the CPC. Italy is a party to the New York Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards (the “New York Convention”), which Italy ratified on 19 January 1968 (Law No. 62 of 19 January 1968). Italy also ratified the 1927 Geneva Convention on the Execution of Foreign Arbitral Awards and 1961 European Convention on International Commercial Arbitration, which are less commonly relied upon.
Currently, a foreign award is not immediately recognized in Italy but has to undergo a formal verification procedure. At the end of this procedure, the award is recognized and becomes equivalent to a judgment issued by an Italian court. Article 839 of the CPC provides that the party wishing to enforce a foreign award shall file a petition with the President of the Court of Appeal of the district in which the other party has its domicile. If a party has no domicile in Italy, the Court of Appeal of Rome shall have jurisdiction.
The recent 2022 amendments now unambiguously provide for the immediate enforceability of the decree recognizing the award. However, the party against whom recognition is sought may still seek to appeal against the recognition. This is set out in Article 840(2) of the CPC, which provides that, following the opposition, the Court of Appeal may suspend the awards’ enforceability/enforcement. This provision will enter into force on 30 June 2023 and apply to proceedings started after that date.
The grounds under which recognition and enforcement of an award may be refused are the same as those provided in Article V of the New York Convention. Article 840 of the CPC reads:
The court of appeal shall refuse the recognition or the enforcement of the foreign award if in the opposition proceedings the party against which the award is invoked proves the existence of one of the following circumstances:
(1) the parties to the arbitration agreement were, under the law applicable to them, under some incapacity, or the arbitration agreement is not valid under the law to which the parties have subjected it or, failing any indication thereon, under the law of the State where the award was made;
(2) the party against which the award is invoked was not informed of the appointment of the arbitrator or of the arbitration proceedings or was otherwise unable to present its case in the proceedings;
(3) the award decided upon a dispute not contemplated in the submission to arbitration or in the arbitration clause, or exceeded the limits of the submission to arbitration or of the arbitration clause; nevertheless, if the decisions in the award which concern questions submitted to arbitration can be separated from those concerning questions not so submitted, the former can be recognized and enforced;
(4) the composition of the arbitration tribunal or the arbitration proceedings was not in accordance with the agreement of the parties or, failing such an agreement, with the law of the place where the arbitration took place;
(5) the award has not yet become binding on the parties or has been set aside or suspended by a competent authority of the State in which, or under the law of which, it was made.
Article 840 also provides that the recognition or enforcement of a foreign award shall be refused where the Court of Appeal ascertains that: (1) the subject matter is not capable of settlement by arbitration under Italian law or (2) the award contains provisions contrary to public policy.
In our firm’s experience, the enforcement of foreign arbitral awards in Italy can be slow as compared to other major jurisdictions. Thus, award creditors may wish to consider enforcing in other jurisdictions if time is of the essence and assets are located in multiple States.
 Legislative Decree No. 40/2006 of 2 February 2006, entered into force on 2 March 2006.
 Implemented by Delegated Act No. 206 of 26 November 2021 and enacted by Legislative Decree No. 149 of 10 October 2022.
 Articles 833, 834, 835, 836, 837, 838 of the Code of Civil Procedure were repealed by Legislative Decree No. 40/2006 of 2 February 2006, which introduced a new Chapter VI.
 The written form requirement is considered complied with also when the will of the parties is expressed by telegram, telex, telecopier or telematic message in accordance with the legal rules, which may also be issued by regulation, regarding the transmission and receipt of documents which are teletransmitted; see CPC, Article 807(2).
 CPC, Articles 807, 808.
 CPC, Article 808-bis.
 CPC, Article 809.
 CPC, Article 809.
 CPC, Article 808(2).
 CPC, Article 817.
 CPC, Article 806, “The parties may have disputes which have arisen between them decided by arbitrators provided the subject matter does not concern rights which may not be disposed of, except in case of express prohibition by law.”
 Global Arbitration Review, Commercial Arbitration in Italy, Question 8, published on 4 May 2022.
 International arbitration law and rules in Italy, CMS Expert Guides, 2 June 2020.
 CPC, Article 818, “The arbitrators may not grant attachment or other interim measures of protection.”
 CPC, Article 818.
 CPC, Article 818.
 CPC, Articles 814 and 815.
 CPC, Article 815.
 CPC, Article 839.
 CPC, Article 840.