Answer ... Although consolidation of separate arbitrations into a single proceeding is not covered by the Code of Civil Procedure (CCP), it is generally deemed acceptable upon the parties’ agreement and provided that the arbitration agreement, the parties and the arbitrators are all the same.
Most rules of arbitration institutions deal with this issue. For example, the rules of the Milan Chamber of Arbitration (one of the main Italian arbitral institutions) empower the arbitrators to decide whether to consolidate related arbitral proceedings.
Answer ... Joinder of additional parties to a pending arbitration is regulated under Article 816-quinquies of the CCP. Provided that the ‘original’ parties, the arbitrators and the third party are in agreement, a third party is entitled to join pending arbitral proceeding either voluntarily or upon the request of another party. However, any third party with an interest in the dispute is always entitled to join the proceedings to support the position of a party; and similarly, the parties are always entitled to require any necessary co-party to be part of the proceedings.
Concerns have been raised in this regard, based on the fact that the third party cannot appoint an arbitrator of its choice; as it will have had no input in the appointment of the arbitrators, this might affect the integrity of the arbitral tribunal. This is still an open point.
The rules of the Milan Chamber of Arbitration delegate any decision on the joining of a third party to the arbitral tribunal, which will take due account of the position of each party, as well as all relevant circumstances of the case.
Answer ... Generally speaking, third parties are not bound by an arbitration agreement.
The extension of arbitration agreements to third parties (including assignees of contracts) is possible only if provided for by law, either expressly or pursuant to interpretation by the courts.
As an example of this, statutory arbitration clauses bind shareholders and corporate bodies according to Italian Legislative Decree 5 of 17 January 2003. It might be argued that the shareholders have implicitly agreed on the arbitration clause included in the articles of association, but this argument is much weaker for corporate bodies which have simply accepted an appointment.
Insofar as the assignment of a contract is concerned, according to case law, the assignee is bound by the arbitration clause only in case of express agreement, as the arbitration clause is separate from the contract in which it is included. If the assignment concerns a debt, the rules vary: the debtor is entitled to file arbitral proceedings against the assignee (otherwise, the debtor would be deprived of the right to start arbitral proceedings, based on an agreement between the assignee and the original creditor to which the debtor is not a party); whereas the assignee is not bound by the arbitration clause.