Commercial disputes in Italy can be efficiently resolved by Italian courts (either through ordinary or summary proceedings) or, if agreed upon by the parties, through arbitration.
The court usually decides a case – in first instance – in about three to four years and – in second instance – in about four to five years, while the length of arbitration proceedings is generally shorter (about one year), since it depends on the parties’ terms of engagement and the governing arbitration rules.
That said, the costs of arbitration proceedings are higher than the costs required for court proceedings, while timing of arbitration proceedings are generally faster, especially if the arbitration is carried out under the rules of an arbitration institution (e.g. The Milan International Chamber of Arbitration).
Enforcement of foreign judgments and international arbitration awards
Foreign judgments are recognised and enforced in Italy through different procedures depending on whether the judgment was issued by a court of an EU member state or by an extra-EU member state court.
In particular, any judgment, decision and measure which meets certain requirements, issued by a court of an EU member state and enforceable in that state is automatically recognised in the Italian jurisdiction without any special procedure and/or any declaration of enforceability being required, pursuant to the Regulation (EU) no 1215/2012, Regulation (EC) 44/2001 and the Brussels and Lugano II conventions, when applicable.
Furthermore, for judgments specifically issued by an extra-EU member state court, there are a number of bilateral conventions relating to the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil matters.
As for international arbitration awards, in 1969 Italy signed the New York Convention of 1958 on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards. As a consequence, Italy recognises foreign arbitral awards as binding and enforces them in accordance with Italian procedural law under the conditions laid down in the New York Convention.
Therefore, in order for a foreign arbitration award to be enforced in Italy, it must be filed with the Court of Appeal of the place of residence of the other party (if it is in Italy) or with the Court of Appeal in Rome (if the other party resides abroad). In this case, the Court of Appeal will only check that the formal requirements of the award are respected, without entering in the merits of the dispute. The court will then issue an enforcement order, where the award becomes equivalent to a judgment capable of enforcement.
Enforcement of Italian judgments and arbitration awards in other jurisdictions
The possibility to enforce Italian judgments and arbitral awards may vary based on the jurisdiction.
In particular, Italian judgments are enforceable abroad pursuant to the Brussels I bis EU Regulation, and to the Lugano Convention, when applicable.
As mentioned above, Italy is also party to the 1958 New York Convention, which is based on the reciprocity principle for the recognition and enforcement of arbitration awards made in the territory of another contracting state. Therefore, an award rendered in Italy is enforceable in foreign jurisdictions that are party to the New York Convention.