24 October 2017

Legal control of international operations by Central Government

One question that comes up increasingly often is how a congregation’s central government can ensure control of a property or ministry (and international operations in general) located outside Italy when the local members left to do this work are not sufficient. This can happen, for instance, where a foundation house or shrine with important historical or religious value for the congregation risks being lost or abandoned for lack of sufficient local membership.

One possibility exists by using the Italian legal entity through which a congregation’s central government operates in Italy, i.e., the “Casa Generalizia” or the “Curia Generalizia”. These entities are ecclesiastical entities civilly recognized under Italian law and, consequently, automatically recognized in all of the European Union.

Taking all necessary precautions not to create tax or other complications for the Italian entity, it is possible for the Italian entity to create and control a local foundation, association or endowment fund which owns and/or operates the property in question. It is even possible, in certain circumstances, for the governing body of the foreign entity to be made up of members of the General Council of the Congregation thus ensuring effective central control of the foreign operation.

Another question which comes up is the control by the Central Government of important litigation outside Italy. This can involve the General House directly or a provincial or other entity. In important and delicate matters where the congregation wants possible controversies to be controlled by the Central Government in Rome it could be possible to provide for or agree on international arbitration under the auspices of the Italian Arbitration Association, with whom we are creating a collaboration (see this post).

The arbitration can be held in Rome in any language and under the legal and procedural rules which the parties decide. It is entirely confidential and reliable as to its professional qualities. Last but not least, it gives rise to an award which has the force of an Italian court judgment, and consequently fully executory in most countries of the world.


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