During 2017, a group of experts worked on the modelling and organisation of the Energy Exchange with the intention that it would be established and begin operating in the first half of 2018. As such, the Ministry of Energy and Environment recently presented, through a public consultation, the draft Energy Exchange Law, which would amend the Target Model Law and the Energy Law.
In 2016 Law 4389/2016 introduced the sale by auction of electricity forward products with physical delivery by the Greek vertically integrated Public Power Corporation (PPC) to eligible electricity suppliers. The purpose of these auctions is to reduce the PPC's retail market share in the interconnected system, enhance competition and provide better quality products and lower prices to consumers.
In international trade, a general reference is sufficient to validly incorporate an arbitration clause contained in another document under Article II(2) of the New York Convention, provided that the clause is common and known to those engaged in a particular trade. The Piraeus Single-Member First-Instance Court recently ruled on a dispute regarding the enforcement of an arbitral award in Greece under the New York Convention.
Two international tenders granting exploration and exploitation rights for the block areas of Southwest and West Crete, as well as the Ionian Sea, were recently published in the Official Gazette. This publication follows the expressions of interest by the consortium Total-ExxonMobil-Hellenic Petroleum for Southwest and West Crete and Energean Oil and Gas for the Ionian Sea. The expected announcement by the Official Journal of the European Union will also allow other interested stakeholders to submit offers.
Decision 51 of the Government Council for Economic Policy was recently published, approving the process for a new international tender for the acquisition of a 66% stake in the national natural gas transmission system operator. The new tender was launched by the Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund on June 26 2017 and will remain open to receive respective expressions of interest until August 7 2017.
The Ministry of Environment and Energy recently launched a public consultation on the draft Law on Energy Communities. Given the large range of activities and numerous incentives that the draft law proposes for energy communities, these communities may become an important vehicle for developing business activities and increasing energy efficiency in local communities.
In a recent case, the Supreme Court held that the requirement that specific authorisation be obtained for the person acting as a legal representative for the valid conclusion of an arbitration agreement refers only to a person acting as a proxy or an agent of the legal entity and does not refer to an organ of the legal entity – the very function of which is to represent the entity, such as the board of directors or its substitute.
After several years of preparation and analysis of different solutions for the reform of the electricity wholesale market and its harmonisation with the European Union, a new law has been enacted to implement the agreement on fiscal goals and corrective reform. Before the law was enacted, studies of the Greek electricity market were carried out while the Regulatory Energy Agency conducted public consultations on the implementation of the target model.
The Supreme Court recently ruled that a violation of the burden of proof rules did not constitute grounds to set aside an arbitral award. This ruling is consistent with the court's previous stance when deciding whether violations of the res judicata effect could form grounds to set aside an arbitral award. It is also in line with the legislature's clear intention to limit state court control in arbitration in order to enhance its effectiveness and finality.
Unlike in most other EU countries, natural gas became part of the Greek market only recently following the launch of organised commercial import of natural gas at the end of 1996. Until then, gas was mainly used for electricity generation. Although the Greek supply and transmission of natural gas has not yet reached maturity, there have been significant attempts to liberalise the market in the past decade, particularly in the past couple of years.
Law 4414/2016, which reforms the renewable resources (RES) and co-generated heat and power (CHP) support scheme, was recently published in the Government Gazette. The law aims to bring the existing support mechanism for RES electricity and CHP into line with EU guidelines and address the insufficient funds in the RES account. Further, it aims to integrate RES electricity and CHP with the interconnected system and develop a sustainable investment environment for the future.
A recent Supreme Court decision held that an arbitration agreement may validly refer to future disputes; in such cases, the agreement must determine the definite legal relationship out of which such disputes will arise, but it is not necessary to refer to specific disputes. Further, the court held that an arbitration agreement does not extend its scope to disputes arising out of a subsequent agreement between the same parties, even if the subject matter concerns the initial agreement.
Greek courts have consistently held that arbitrators sitting under the rules of the Technical Chamber of Greece do not have jurisdiction to decide non-technical disputes; if they do so, their awards may be set aside for exceeding the jurisdiction that was conferred on them by law. A recent judgment of the Supreme Court qualifies this rule by clarifying the position with respect to incidental matters that are of a legal nature.
Parliament recently approved a law that introduces significant changes to the Greek electricity market. The law aims to reduce the share of the Power Public Corporation (PPC) in the electricity supply market, unbundle the transmission system operator from the PPC (while partially privatising it) and regulate the temporary capacity mechanism.
When a national legal provision is fixed by means of a stabilisation clause in a concession agreement, it becomes a contractual term of the agreement. Thus, any dispute relating to the application of the provision will fall under the scope of the agreement's arbitration clause. Contrary to case law, the Supreme Administrative Court recently held that the provision need not be directly incorporated into the contract; an express reference is sufficient.
In a recent decision the Supreme Court held that the place of arbitration and the law governing the main contract are important factors for determining whether the parties made a tacit choice as to which law applies to an arbitration agreement. The court also held that, in the absence of a choice of law by the parties, Greek law governs the validity of arbitration agreements relating to international commercial arbitrations held in Greece.
The Supreme Court recently settled a longstanding debate over public policy as it relates to arbitration, holding that the concept of public policy as grounds to set aside domestic arbitral awards is that of international public policy that serves the public interest, not simply individual public policy provisions that serve private interests. The judgment strengthens the pro-arbitration stance of the Greek courts.
The Supreme Court has confirmed that the principle that a valid waiver of setting-aside proceedings before an award is rendered can be implied when it is contained in an agreement ratified by law does not apply to the state, which is subject to additional requirements. The case involved a dispute between the government and a concessionaire over the construction of part of a motorway.
In a recent decision the Athens Court of Appeal held that a valid waiver of setting-aside proceedings before an award is rendered can be implied, provided that it is contained in an agreement that is ratified by law and thus acquires legal force. The case dealt with domestic arbitration law, so it remains to be seen whether such a waiver will be held valid under Greek international arbitration law.
The non-existence or invalidity of an arbitration agreement cannot be raised as grounds to challenge an arbitral award if a court has previously issued a final decision in favour of the agreement's existence or validity in the course of staying court proceedings and referring the dispute to arbitration. The Supreme Court provided clarification on this principle in a recent case arising from a construction contract.