Allen & Overy LLP
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Arbitration & ADR
The arbitration court of the Slovak Bar Association (SBA) recently adopted new corporate dispute resolution rules. The SBA arbitration court is one of the most prominent arbitral institutions in Slovakia and the first to adopt specific rules for corporate disputes. The new framework aims to pave the way for more effective and specialised resolution of corporate disputes.
In 2019 the Ministry of Finance issued guidelines on procedures for the effective application of rules on the freezing of financial assets of sanctioned persons in Slovakia. The guidelines answer some practical questions but leave many questions open. One such question concerns enforcement of arbitral awards affected by sanctions – in particular, under what conditions can an award creditor enforce such an award in Slovakia?
A recent Banska Bystrica Regional Court decision is one of many which give a positive outlook for arbitration in Slovakia and can be equated with court decisions in arbitration-friendly jurisdictions. A limited review of arbitral awards, with a focus on the procedural aspects of arbitration proceedings, reflects the aim of the Arbitration Act amendment of 2015; however, other court decisions have interpreted arbitration clauses more restrictively.
Section 17 of the Arbitration Act requires the equal treatment of parties in arbitration proceedings. Over the past year, the extent of this procedural safeguard has been tested before numerous Slovak courts, including the Supreme Court, the Bratislava Regional Court and the Banska Bystrica Regional Court. Notably, the courts seem to have avoided an extensive interpretation of Section 17 when reviewing awards.
In 2018 the Slovak courts addressed a number of issues while upholding arbitral awards, suggesting that the jurisdiction is becoming more arbitration friendly. This article explores two of these issues – namely, whether courts should review the application of substantive law and facts established by tribunals and the use of public policy as grounds for setting aside an award.
One of the main reasons for choosing arbitration as a method of dispute resolution has always been the finality of arbitral awards. However, in Slovakia, the finality of arbitral awards has often been called into question – even the Constitutional Court has assumed jurisdiction to review arbitral awards. While the country has come a long way in bringing the review of arbitral awards into line with international standards, there is still one stage where reviews of arbitral awards are somewhat unpredictable: enforcement.
The Ministry of Justice recently published its proposal for an amendment to the Arbitration Act which aims to strengthen consumer protection. This update looks at some of the key changes envisaged by the amendment and the effect that they might have on arbitration proceedings.
A recent amendment to the Slovak Civil Code has made it harder to arbitrate consumer disputes. Effective as of January 1 2008, the amendment makes all exclusive arbitration clauses within consumer contracts null and void. The amendment also appears to apply retroactively to all consumer contracts concluded before it came into force.
Corporate & Commercial
Within the framework of commercial relationships, the question has arisen as to whether the COVID-19 pandemic may be considered a force majeure event and, if so, what impact this could have on contractual obligations. Notably, the occurrence of a force majeure event does not automatically relieve the liability to fulfil an obligation.