Dispute Resolution

Studio Legale Sutti is indisputedly the Italian international law firm the most oriented towards contentious and semi-contentious work. In this respect, it is in a position to represent final clients and assist foreign colleagues in Milan, Bergamo, Vigevano, Rome, Genoa, Monza & Brianza, through its local offices; and throughout Italy, profiting from an extensive network of local correspondents in all the other most important judicial centres of the country. Morever, after the establishment of our Sofia, Belgrade and Bucharest offices, our contentious practice has been extended to representation before all Bulgarian, Serbian and Romanian courts, where we rely on the presence of some of the very leading local counsel in our ranks.

Angelo Sutti, the founder – and senior partner until the early nineties – of the Firm was himself one of the most respected litigators of his generation in the courts of Milan and Bergamo, where he practised for more than forty years.

Litigation, arbitration, appeals and ADR are not managed by a separate department, because in Italy they are not considered, according to a very old tradition, an area of practice per se; but rather a supplementary, specific skill of lawyers who specialise in the area of the substantial law involved in the merits of each given case.

Moreover, we insist that even our partners and associates dealing mostly with transactional work actively participate in continuing education programs aimed at developing advocacy skills and an in-depth knowledge of the related procedural rules. Rethorics, neurolinguistic programming, morphopsychology, theory of games, comparative procedural law, elocution, presentation techniques, are also part of this training.

Litigation and dispute resolution work is tightly integrated with the rest of the Firm’s practice, in particular with services related to ADR, and to strategic business advice, in this area largely based upon the Harvard risk tree analysis, a process which is constantly revised and updated in cooperation with the client, and if possible with his in-house counsel department.

As a matter of fact, litigation and arbitration, besides being a metaphor of the entire legal profession (and perhaps of life), are in our view fundamental business tools, with respect to both the exploitation of opportunities and damage control. In this respect, the timely commencement of appropriate legal proceedings or a prompt reaction to the same – if possible also profiting from a creative use of provisional remedies, injunctive relief, and summary judgments – may indeed make the difference with regard to one’s survival and success in the market.

On the other hand, many disputes and criminal cases are won before the beginning of the trial, so that the utmost attention must be paid not only to performance in court, but to preparation and strategy, areas to which we devote all our efforts.

We also agree with Lao-Tzu and Miyamoto Musashi that even better than litigation and defences won before trial are those won without having to actually fight them. In this respect, while mediocre litigators rarely make good negotiators, in our experience the best litigators are often also excellent negotiators.

In addition to its traditional expertise in Corporate, Commercial and IP/Competition trials and appeals, the Firm provides as well representation:

  • in white collar crime cases, to both individual and corporate defendants, and to victims (who in Italy cannot privately prosecute, but play indeed an active role, and may be represented by counsel, in criminal proceedings, in order to obtain interim relief and damages in criminal courts themselves);
  • in all kind of arbitrations;
  • in Italian Regional Administrative Tribunals, Corte dei Conti (see for example the judgment published here) and Conseil d’Etat proceedings;
  • in Labour Courts;
  • in B2B debt recovery proceedings and in enforcements of foreign judgements and awards in Italy, Bulgaria, Serbia and Romania;
  • in EU Courts;
  • in Italian, Romanian and European antitrust investigations;
  • before the Italian Tax Courts (where Studio Legale Sutti’s Tax Department deals daily with several high-profile disputes on behalf of corporate clients);
  • and before other regulatory and disciplinary bodies, authorities and tribunals, such as the Italian Advertising Self-Discipline Tribunal, the Italian Industrial Designers’ Self-Discipline Tribunal, etc.

Several members of SLS hold academic and teaching position related to civil and criminal procedure and more in general to dispute resolution, namely in Rome, Milan, Turin, and in the new Master Course on International Litigation organised by the University of Padua, in the framework of its prestigious Law School, which is the second or third oldest in the world.

Ten SLS members are also admitted to, and involved with, the very particular area of practice represented by appeals before the Italian Court of Cassation – which are the main specialisation of Bruno Sassani, who coordinates such work from our office in Rome where he is also professor of Civil Procedure. A few other SLS members are active instead before the Court of Cassation of Bulgaria and the Romanian Supreme Court.

In addition, the Firm’s Patent & Trademark Agency Services include representation in contentious proceedings before the European Patent Office, and their personnel often serve as Consulenti Tecnici di Parte (party-appointed experts) in Italian civil and criminal proceedings.

Needless to say, SLS’s orientation to contentious and semi-contentious work also involves our London office, whose main purpose is precisely that of offering to local law firms and in-house counsel departments on-site barrister-like services for everything pertaining to the Italian law and jurisdiction, and especially representation in Italian courts and arbitrations for their clients and employers. Thus, in the survey by the International Centre for Commercial Law on “Foreign Law Firms in London”, published in the 2000 edition of Legal 500, SLS was already recommended, amongst Italian firms having an office in the United Kingdom for “Dispute Resolution”.

Conversely, the excellent relationships our Tokyo office entertains with leading Japanese bengoshi in each given area of the law, and it constant monitoring of the Japanese business Bar, makes it a good point of contact for disputes in that country.

Lastly, Studio Legale Sutti was appointed in 2000 as the Italian counsel for the American State Capital Law Firm Group, an alliance of independent leading US law firms based in each State, and in the country, capitals, and involved in both business and administrative law litigation (i.e., challenges to the validity of regulations and governmental or municipal measures before special administrative courts).

Studio Legale Sutti has been along the years nominated as Global Law Experts‘ Dispute Resolution Law Firm of the Year in Italy (2015), Lawyers World‘s Law Firm of the Year in Italy for Dispute Resolution (2011).

Much of the media coverage obtained over the years by our practice is related to high-profile cases before Italian and other courts, tribunals and authorities, in very different kinds of disputes, from complex corporate cases (especially M&A-related) to appeals on fine points of law, to IP-related matters and patent enforcement campaigns, to antitrust and antidumping proceedings, to Y2K actions, to challenges of administrative measures and disputes against public bodies to the occasional defence of individuals in civil and criminal proceedings, often pro bono. Details and links are provided all over the site.

International disputes are however the field where today Studio Legale Sutti’s reputation is more widespread.

In this respect, the role that Studio Legale Sutti members play in the only existing European Master Course on International Litigation is eloquent. The Masters, the first edition of which is taking place in 2004 under the aegis of the University of Padua, the second oldest law school of the world, has been put under the direction of Tito Ballarino, and sees among the faculty Stefano Sutti himself (Strategy and Comparative Procedure; member of the Steering Comittee), Simona Cazzaniga (International IP Enforcement Campaigns), Eleonora Ballarino (International Private Law). This has not gone unnoticed by press agencies and specialised media: see Yahoo News, 26/11/2003, “Tito Ballarino Direttore Master Universitario a Padova su International Litigation”; Mondaq Business Briefing, “Tito Ballarino Appointed Coordinator of the First European Master in International Litigation (Italy) “; Studio Celentano Law, Web & Zine!, “Studio Legale Sutti partecipa al primo Master in International Litigation”; Italia Oggi 08/12/2003, “Un Master in International Litigation”; Notiziario Giuridico Telematico, “Master in International Litigation”; La Bacheca dello Studio Tommasi 15/11/2003 “Master Universitario di II Livello in International Litigation”; Associazione Culturale per lo Studio del Diritto, “Masters in Diritto della Rete e in Litigation”; Altalex, 15/11/2003 “Master di II livello in International Litigation”; Excite 26/11/2003, “SLS impegnato nel primo Master in Litigation”; itLOOKS, 26/11/2003, “Nomine: Ballarino dello Studio Legale Sutti Direttore del Master in Litigation dell’Università di Padova”.

Thus, we were so requested to present the two Italian reports in the recent seminar organised on 12-15/11/2003 in Salzburg by CILS in Salzburg, entitled respectively “The Internationalisation of Italian Summary Proceedings” and “Provisional Remedies in Italy: The State of the Art”; and accepted the appointment as responsibles for the Serbian and Bulgarian sections of International Recognition and Enforcement of Money Judgments and of International Attachments of Assets, two collective works published and periodically updated by Juris Publishing, Inc., the leading publisher in the field of comprehensive international legal guides.

Our especial focus on international disputes has similarly been recognised by the invitation extended again to Prof. Ballarino to chair the Conference on the EU Regulations on International Litigation (Cassamarca) which took place in Treviso on 10/03/2001. Actually, the Italian judiciary itself, and namely its National Council (CSM, Ufficio dei Referenti per la formazione decentrata – Distretto di Milano) has recently profited in its professional updating programs from his well-known expertise on the interferences between national proceedings and the EU courts (namely, he lectured on “La Corte Europea di Giustizia e il rinvio pregiudiziale” in the seminar Diritto interno e diritto comunitario which took place in Milan on 25/10/2003).

Similarly, SLS litigation, arbitration and ADR specialists are often invited to speak at international seminars, such as that organised by CILS on 12-15/11/2003 in Salzburg, where Eleonora Ballarino and Francesca Ferrero discussed respectively “Provisional Remedies in Italy: The State of the Art” and “The Internationalisation of Italian Summary Proceedings”.

Studio Legale Sutti has also a recognised expertise in corporate defence against consumer actions. Thus, we were invited to discuss defence strategy in Italian cases concerning product liability and the new statute on vendor’s liability in two conferences organised by CEGOS on 12/12/2002 and 09/05/2003.

Speaking of specialist press and surveys, if in 2000 ILFR’s 1000 – The Guide to the World’s Leading International Business Law Firms recommended Studio Legale Sutti for contentious matters, namely in the area of Intellectual Property, Y2K and business crime, in the 2001 edition of the same publication, now online at the address of The Legal Media Group, we are proud to be the Italian law firm unconditionally recommended for “commercial litigation”. The 2002 edition confirms that, mentioning Stefano Sutti and Livia Oglio as the “leading lawyers” in this area and citing our expertise in arbitrations related to “international trade agreements, construction contracts, and project finance operations”. Our recognised leadership in this field also led the same publication to invite us to author the Litigation Guide which was contained in both its paper and Web editions and adds to the numerous other articles and essays on the subject which SLS members have signed over the years.

SLS is among the very few Italian firms recommended for their litigation expertise by the Dispute Resolution Contacts Handbook 1999 (published by Euromoney). Again, Studio Legale Sutti, and more specifically Stefano Sutti, its current Managing Partner, are cited in the 2000 edition of the same publication for their strong reputation in this area.

In fact, Stefano Sutti is consistently mentioned during last years in both the Guide to the World’s Leading Litigation Lawyers (published by the Euromoney Legal Media Group, which also contains brief biographical details) and in European Legal Experts 2001, “Litigation” section (Legalease).

Again, according to InBrief (“Zoe Campbell asks UK lawyers to reccomend Italy’s leading law firms and top lawyers”, June 2002), “Studio Legale Sutti is recommended [in the Italian jurisdiction] for contentious work, arbitration, civil litigation and white collar crime”, Stefano Sutti also obtaining a personal mention.

In this respect, the firm was “highly recommended” by the 1998 and 1999 edition of European Counsel 3000 (published by L&C Publishing Ltd) for commercial litigation and business criminal defense and prosecution. Global Counsel 3000, the new annual practice survey of the same publisher, in its 2000 edition mentioned Cesare Bulgheroni, the head of SLS’s criminal law practice, among the four or five top white collar crime defense and prosecution specialists in Italy, as it also does in its 2001, 2002 and 2003 edition, which indicates us for “dispute resolution”, and where SLS and Bulgheroniare “highly recommended”.

His election, after a long collaboration with SLS, to partnership, a status which he has been the first member of the Italian criminal Bar to attain in an international law firm, had in fact already been largely discussed by the media, again stressing the particular emphasis of SLS on all kinds of contentious work (see Italia Oggi, 07/03/2001; Il Mondo, 09/03/2001, “Bulgheroni, penalista per caso”; European Legal Business, April 2001, “Sutti tackles crime”). Actually, as soon as 1998 Studio Legale Sutti was already recognised by Legal 500 in Europe as “one of the few major firms to offer a specialism in white-collar crime”. Similarly, the 1999 edition of the same publication, notes that SLS “is the only major Italian firm to operate a high-profile white-collar crime department”. Again, for, in an article published on 08/11/2000, Mr. Bulgheroni is “among the top four or five white-collar crime lawyers in Italy acting for both prosecution and defense” and is “particularly well-known for his work in famous patent and counterfeiting cases”. His position in this respect has also been recognised by the Guide to the World’s Leading White Collar Crime Lawyers (published by Euromoney Legal Media Group), as its more general reputation as a litigator has again been reflected in 2003 by Il Mondo 03/04/2003.

Lastly, our specialisation in appeals before the Italian Court of Cassation was again noted by Global Counsel 3000, 2002-2003, and by The Lawyer, on 24/09/2002, where Prof. Sassani has been mentioned as the “leading Italian Supreme Court litigator”.

Studio Legale Sutti has extensive experience in both ad hoc arbitration and institutional arbitrations (including ICC, AAA, WIPO, HKIAC, Chambre Arbitrale de Paris, etc., flavours), and as such is the Official Contributor for the Italian jurisdiction of the relevant International Law Office newsletter, where we discuss on a regular basis arbitration-related Italian and international trends, case law, judgments and awards. Several other articles on strategy in arbitration and legal updates have been published by Mondaq Business Briefing and in The European Lawyer. The European Legal 500 , moreover, has specifically reccommended us (and our Sofia office) in 2002 for arbitrations related to the Bulgarian jurisdiction. Similarly, the financial weekly magazine Il Mondo (03/10/2003, “Se gioca l’arbitro”) mentions SLS and Cesare Bulgheroni among the “the top Italian specialists in arbitrations”.

Part of our arbitration and ADR practice is the assistance lent through our London office to English solicitors – whenever issues related to the Italian or South-Eastern Europe jurisdictions are involved -, in the field of English court-mandated mediation under the Woolf Reform.

Another specific expertise which deserves to be mentioned here is that related to the brand-new legal rules on the resolution of Italian corporate disputes through By-laws-regulated arbitration. This was in particular the subject of the report presented by Prof. Sassani in the conference Dispute Management and New Corporate Dispute Procedural Rules organised in Milan on 15/05/2003 by Il Sole 24Ore Business Conference.

Further information on our arbitration and ADR practice may also be found on the Martindale-Hubbell International Arbitration and Dispute Resolution Directory (published by Martindale-Hubbell).

Our contentious and semi-contentious work is discussed in detail in our entries in the relevant Mondaq’s directories (a free registration is needed to access them), and in particular:

  • Litigation
  • Arbitration
  • Administrative Law
  • Antitrust Law


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