Enforcement immunity

Domestic law

Describe domestic law governing the scope of enforcement immunity.

Pursuant to international customary law, a state’s asset related to public services cannot be subjected to any enforcement proceedings; however, a state’s asset related to private functions can be subject to enforcement proceedings.

Application of civil procedure codes

When enforcing against a state, would debt collection statutes and the enforcement sections of civil procedure codes or similar codes also apply?

Enforcement proceedings before Italian courts are governed by Italian law, including those against a state. Therefore, a foreign state acting as a private entity in the Italian territory is subject to enforcement proceedings according to the rules provided for under the Italian Code of Civil Procedure. This code provides that, to recover its receivables, a creditor is entitled to attach movable and immovable properties of the debtor. Moreover, the creditor is entitled to attach the amount due to its debtor by a third party. The latter applies to the attachment of bank accounts.

Consent for further enforcement proceedings

Does a prior submission to the jurisdiction of a court or tribunal constitute consent for any further enforcement proceedings against the property of the state?

No, it does not. The waiver shall always be explicit.

The waiver to immunity from jurisdiction does not imply immunity from enforcement, which shall also always be explicit.

Property or assets subject to enforcement or execution

Describe the property or assets that would typically be subject to enforcement or execution.

The assets that would typically be subject to enforcement are immovable or movable property or credits, and have to be used for private functions or related to private activities.

Assets covered by enforcement immunity

Describe the assets that would normally be covered by enforcement immunity and give examples of any restrictive or broader interpretations adopted by the courts.

Immunity from enforcement proceedings can be applied to assets related to public services, such as military assets, goods intended for diplomatic functions and accounts held by an embassy for public functions. In the past, case law gave a restrictive interpretation of immunity stating that it only applies when it is demonstrated that the asset is related to or connected with a public function.

Explain whether the property or bank accounts of a central bank or other monetary authority would be covered by enforcement immunity even when such property is in use or is intended for use for commercial purposes.

Under Italian case law, courts focus on the purpose of the transaction performed to recognise the immunity of a foreign authority. If a property is used for commercial purposes, it shall be subject to Italian jurisdiction.

Test for enforcement

Explain whether domestic jurisprudence has developed any further test that must be satisfied before enforcement against a state is permitted.

There is no jurisprudence developing a further test to assess whether the enforcement against a state is permitted.

Service of arbitration award or judgment

How is a state served with process or otherwise notified before an arbitration award or judgment against it (or its organs and instrumentalities) may be enforced?

The service of an award or a decision follows the rules of the Italian Code of Civil Procedure or the applicable conventions or regulations (see questions 13 and 14).

History of enforcement proceedings

Is there a history of enforcement proceedings against states in your jurisdiction? What part of these proceedings is based on arbitral awards?

There is no history of enforcement proceedings against a state in Italy (public databases available show fewer than 50 cases). Arbitral awards are not public, and an estimate is not possible.

Public databases

Are there any public databases through which assets held by states may be identified?

Yes, there are. Any person is entitled to access the register of the Chamber of Commerce and obtain a balance sheet of a company, including those owned by a state. A balance sheet may show, among others, properties owned by the company or its bank accounts. Moreover, a person is entitled to request access to the register where immovable assets are registered and to the register where registered movable assets (eg, cars, ships, helicopters) are listed. Finally, a person can be authorised by a court to access the fiscal data of a counter­party, including data related to a bank account.

Court competency

Would a court in your state be competent to assist with or otherwise intervene to help identify assets held by states in the territory?

An Italian court is not entitled to assist in the identification of a debtor’s assets. However, the Italian Code of Civil Procedure provides that the public official in charge of the enforcement is entitled to search a debtor’s assets to attach them. Moreover, a debtor shall declare to the public official in charge of the enforcement where the assets available for the attachment are located.