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Introduction

The rules on arbitration embodied in the Italian Code of Civil Procedure (CCP) do not distinguish between domestic and international arbitration. The 2006 reform amending Articles 806 to 840 of the CCP unified the system by extending to all arbitration proceedings the rules previously applicable to international arbitration (see Section II.i). As a result, Italy has a modern and updated legal framework for arbitrating international disputes, which includes allowing for the conducting of hearings and other phases of proceedings abroad as well as for the signing of awards by arbitrators when abroad.2 The parties may agree to conduct an arbitration in any language.3

i Local institutions

The main international arbitration institution in Italy is the Chamber of Arbitration of Milan (CAM).4 It is internationally recognised as Italy's main player for institutional arbitration.

CAM is a branch of the Chamber of Commerce of Milan and was established in 1985 to provide arbitration services. Through Law No. 580 of 1993, regulatory market functions were attributed by law to the chambers of commerce and, as a result, CAM gained a further boost as an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) provider. In 1996, mediation services were introduced, and CAM now provides an array of ADR services and tools that are tailored to specific types of dispute and to the needs of the parties involved.

A special mention must also be made of the Italian Association for Arbitration (AIA),5 which is based in Rome. It was established in 1958 under the patronage of the Italian branch of the International Chamber of Commerce and was set up to promote the development of arbitration and other forms of ADR. AIA has played an important role in the study and modernisation of Italian arbitration and mediation law, as well as in Italy's compliance with international conventions. While from 2020 AIA is no longer active in the administration of arbitration proceedings, it publishes the authoritative arbitration journal Rivista dell'Arbitrato and, together with CAM, carries out joint projects to further promote arbitration and ADR in Italy, such as international conferences and training courses. Notably, in 2022 AIA and CAM have organised the first Italian Arbitration Day, a truly international event that in its inaugural session will discuss in depth the upcoming arbitration reform in a comparative perspective (see Section II.i 'The 2022 reform of the Italian Arbitration Law').

In addition to CAM, most of the main chambers of commerce administer arbitrations in accordance with their own rules, although only a few of these are international arbitrations.

ii Trends and statistics relating to arbitration

State court proceedings still remain the most commonly used means of dispute settlement in Italy. Despite that, problems related to the length of proceedings in the courts (studies have shown that the average time required to complete first instance civil and commercial proceedings is more than 500 days)6 and an increasing knowledge of ADR services have led to a recent increase in commercial arbitration. Accordingly, small and medium-sized companies have also started to make frequent use of both institutional and ad hoc arbitration, which was previously resorted to mainly by larger corporate players for reasons of confidentiality.

While there are no statistics on the use of ad hoc arbitration, based on our personal experience, this form of arbitration plays an important role, especially in high-value domestic disputes. Arbitration clauses referring to ad hoc arbitration are widely adopted by major industrial and construction companies, and there is a circle of well-known lawyers active in this area.

It is simpler to more closely monitor the development of arbitration administered by institutions. In this respect, a comprehensive study showed that, in 2017, 582 arbitration proceedings were administered by arbitration institutions in Italy (with a tangible increase from the average of about 500 arbitration proceedings per annum administered over the previous 15 years or so). In 2021, CAM alone received 123 requests for arbitration (with a slight increase with respect to the 120 requests filed in 2020), confirming the positive trend over recent years (in 1998, CAM only administered 39 cases). CAM's figures also show that many of its arbitrations involve at least one foreign party (that is, a party with its registered office abroad). Finally, with the aim of promoting greater transparency, since 2016 CAM has published the names of arbitrators appointed in the arbitral proceedings administered by the institution.

In 2008, a group of Italian practitioners specialising in international arbitration and ADR set up the Italian Forum for International Arbitration and ADR (ArbIt),7 an informal interest group aimed at promoting arbitration as an effective tool for resolving international disputes and to develop a culture and ethos of arbitration among Italian legal practitioners. ArbIt pursues its objectives through various initiatives, including organising conferences, courses and seminars focusing on the law and the practice of international commercial and investment arbitration, and developing relations with Italian and foreign arbitral institutions. Both the number of conferences organised or co-organised by ArbIt in Italy and abroad, as well as the number and arbitration experience of its members, are continuing to grow, and ArbIt is looked on as an authoritative group of arbitration practitioners. In the wake of such growth, in 2019 the Italian Under 40 Arbitration Group, AIA-ArbIt-40, was launched with the aim of developing the exchange of ideas and professional experiences among young practitioners, academics and students with an interest in arbitration and other ADR mechanisms.