The Italian Parliament Extends Emergency Measures to Arbitration

May 5, 2020

On 24 April 2020, with Law No. 27 (the “Conversion Law”) the Italian Parliament converted into law the Law Decree No. 18 of 17 March 2020 (“Cura Italia Decree”) adopted by the Italian Government in the aftermath of the COVID-19 outbreak.

The Conversion Law, among other things, extended the emergency measures introduced for judicial proceedings with the Cura Italia Decree to arbitrations governed by the Italian Code of Civil Procedure, “to the extent compatible”.

These emergency measures notably include the suspension of all procedural deadlines until 11 May 2020 and affect the conduct of arbitration hearings until 30 June 2020, including with respect to the possibility to hold virtual hearings.

The choice to retroactively extend the emergency measures to arbitration “to the extent compatible” at this late point in time raises several questions, particularly with respect to (i) the practical implications of such extension, (ii) its interplay with the principle of party autonomy and (iii) the impact that such extension may have on the enforceability and the validity of awards issued in Italy under the new legal framework.

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