The Effects of Insolvency on International Arbitration – the EU Perspective

By Matteo Zanotelli, SLT Strategy Legal Tax

The relationship between pending arbitral proceedings and the insolvency of one of the parties involved is a matter for study and discussion.

It is well known that where one party has been declared insolvent in a State other than the one where the arbitral proceedings are being held, a conflict of laws may occur and, as a consequence, the arbitral tribunal shall need to ascertain the effects of the insolvency on the pending arbitration.

The EU has issued a specific conflict rule, under art. 18 EC Reg. 848/2015 (former art. 15 Reg. 1346/2000) to uniformly regulate the issue: ‘The effects of insolvency proceedings on a pending lawsuit or pending arbitral proceedings concerning an asset or a right which forms part of a debtor’s insolvency estate shall be governed solely by the law of the Member State in which that lawsuit is pending or in which the arbitral tribunal has its seat’.

Consequently, the Arbitral Tribunal shall verify the effect of one party’s insolvency on the pending arbitration according to the lex arbitri applicable, even if those rules differ from the corresponding rules, according to the lex concursus.

For example, it may be the case that, according to the applicable lex concursus rules, the arbitration would ordinarily have been suspended/ terminated, but according to the insolvency law of the State where the Arbitral Tribunal sits (ex art. 18 EC Reg. 848/2015 ), the arbitral proceeding proceeds instead (see the leading case of Elektrim v. Vivendi).

As a further example, in a case recently handled by the author, the Arbitral Tribunal correctly applied the above mentioned EC Regulation and ordered a temporary suspension of the proceeding, with the possibility of resumption thereof, derogating from the otherwise applicable lex concursus.


Matteo Zanotelli

Matteo Zanotelli

SLT Strategy Legal Tax, Verona, Italy
T: +39 045 806 51 51
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SLT Strategy Legal Tax is a Veronabased firm that provides both legal and accounting services to a national and international clientele. The firm can count on the experience of over 40 professionals whose experience covers many areas of expertise, ranging from commercial, insolvency and banking law to criminal, family and labour law.

Matteo Zanotelli is a lawyer and member of the Professional Lawyers’ Association of Verona as well as a Senior Partner at SLT Strategy Legal Tax. His professional activity encompasses assistance to companies and other economic operators, mostly handling insolvency procedures, international trade law and banking law matters. He specialises in international contract consultancy and drafting, operations of company reorganisation and internationalisation, international litigation and banking litigation. He is a published author and speaker at events of a scientific and academic nature.


Published: Winter 2017 l Photo: cge2010 - Fotolia.com

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