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Commercial Arbitration

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Slovakia

Martin Magál and Michal Porubsky
Allen & Overy Bratislava, s.r.o.

    Infrastructure

  1. 1.The New York Convention
    Is your state a party to the New York Convention? Are there any noteworthy declarations or reservations?
    1. Czechoslovakia signed the New York Convention in 1958, subject to the reciprocity reservation. Slovakia succeeded to the New York Convention as of 28 May 1993. Consequently, arbitral awards issued in non-contracting states will only be enforceable to the extent to which reciprocal treatment is granted to awards rendered in Slovakia by those states. 

  2. 2.Other treaties
    Is your state a party to any other bilateral or multilateral treaties regarding the recognition and enforcement of arbitral awards?
    1. Slovakia remains a party to the Geneva Convention on the Execution of Foreign Arbitral Awards 1927, despite its effective replacement by the New York Convention. Furthermore, Slovakia is a party to the ICSID Convention of 1965 and the European Convention on International Commercial Arbitration 1961. Other treaties include the Geneva Protocol on Arbitration Clauses 1923 and numerous bilateral investment treaties with other states concerning arbitration in investor-state disputes.

  3. 3.National law
    Is there an arbitration act or equivalent and, if so, is it based on the UNCITRAL Model Law? Does it apply to all arbitral proceedings with their seat in your jurisdiction?
    1. Commercial arbitrations seated in Slovakia are principally governed by Act No. 244/2002 Coll. on arbitration, as amended (the Arbitration Act). The Arbitration Act was substantially amended with effect from 1 January 2015 (the Amendment). Some sections of Act No. 99/1963 Coll, the Code of Civil Procedure, as amended (the Code of Civil Procedure) apply to the relationship between courts and tribunals, especially in terms of support for arbitration proceedings. The Code of Civil Procedure has been recently replaced by a new Act No. 160/2015 Coll, the Code of Civil Litigation (the Code of Civil Litigation). The Code of Civil Litigation is applicable from 1 July 2016 and, similarly as its predecessor, covers some sections of the relationship between courts and tribunals. Arbitration-like alternative dispute resolution methods applying to consumer contracts are governed by Act. No. 335/2014 Coll. on consumer arbitration (the Consumer ADR Act).

      The wording of the Arbitration Act is aligned with the 2006 version of the UNCITRAL Model Law and addresses, in particular, questions of the written form of arbitral agreements, interim measures and the grounds for setting aside. The Arbitration Act also contains a wide-ranging definition of arbitrability. It applies equally to domestic and international commercial disputes seated in Slovakia, as well as to recognition of foreign awards. In order to avoid restrictive jurisprudence of Slovak courts related to consumer disputes being applied to commercial arbitration cases, the arbitration-like ADR methods were carved out into a separate Consumer ADR Act. 

  4. 4.Arbitration bodies in your jurisdiction
    What arbitration bodies relevant to international arbitration are based within your jurisdiction? Do such bodies also act as appointing authorities?
    1. The leading arbitration institution in Slovakia is the Arbitration Court of the Slovak Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which also serves as the ICC National Committee. It manages to maintain a leading role despite its lack of transparency and a strict policy of forcing parties to appoint arbitrators only from its list of approved practitioners. Increasingly popular is the Slovak Banking Association Arbitration Court. Both of these institutions have produced their own sets of arbitration rules and may act as appointing authorities. 

      Despite not being based in Slovakia, due to its proximity and good reputation for effective and impartial case management, the Vienna International Arbitration Centre (VIAC) is often chosen by Slovak parties for resolving international as well as local disputes. ICC arbitration clauses are also widely used in practice.  

      Over the past several years, Slovakia has struggled with a high proliferation of permanent arbitral institutions of a doubtful quality. The recent amendment of the Arbitration Act purported to boldly tackle with the issue by allowing only several specifically listed institutions to establish arbitration bodies in Slovakia. As of 1 January 2017, the already existing arbitration bodies will cease to exist by the operation of law. The arbitration clauses vesting jurisdiction in any of the abolished institutions would either have to be amended or jurisdiction would automatically pass to general courts.  

  5. 5.Foreign institutions
    Can foreign arbitral providers operate in your jurisdiction?
    1. International arbitrations can be conducted in Slovakia under the rules of a foreign arbitral institution. 

      Nevertheless, only entities empowered by the Arbitration Act are allowed to establish permanent arbitration institutions in Slovakia (see question 4). It is therefore doubtful whether foreign institutions would be able to maintain a permanent presence in Slovakia. On the other hand, it should be perfectly fine for the foreign arbitral providers to administer arbitrations seated in Slovakia without being permanently established in Slovakia. The above-mentioned restriction only applies to Slovak institutions.   

  6. 6.Courts
    Is there a specialist arbitration court? Is the judiciary in your jurisdiction generally familiar with the law and practice of international arbitration?
    1. Jurisdiction over arbitral proceedings is exercised by general commercial courts which are improving their knowledge and understanding of commercial arbitration, both domestic and international. The Code of Civil Litigation vests jurisdiction in matters relating to commercial arbitration in just three general courts covering the western, central and eastern part of Slovakia respectively. The rationale of this division is to further increase the build-up of arbitration-specific know-how and consolidate case law related to arbitration.

      At the moment, the familiarity with and understanding of international arbitration is higher at Regional Courts (second-level courts for arbitration matters) and the Supreme Court (a third-level court for arbitration matters), although with only three first-level courts empowered to hear arbitration related disputes, the situation is likely to change in the near future. 

      Unlike the situation in Austria and Switzerland, which apply a single-instance policy in relation to set aside and other arbitration-related court proceedings, Slovakia continues to operate a system of two regular instances, with the possibility of further extraordinary appeals being available in some cases to either or both the Supreme Court and the Constitutional Court.

    Agreement to arbitrate

  7. 7.Formalities
    What, if any, requirements must be met if an arbitration agreement is to be valid and enforceable under the law of your jurisdiction? Can an arbitration agreement cover future disputes?
    1. Whether concluded as a separate agreement or as a contractual clause, the arbitration agreement has to be in writing. The ‘writing’ requirement is regulated in liberal terms in order to reflect modern business usage. An agreement is considered to be in writing even if it is contained in the exchange of parties’ written communication or concluded by purely electronic means, provided that the content of the electronic exchange and the parties involved are identifiable.

      A freely negotiated arbitration agreement can cover future disputes. Furthermore, if both parties declare in front of an arbitrator, prior to the proceedings on merits, that they wish to subject themselves to tribunal’s jurisdiction, then the written form of an arbitration agreement is deemed to be maintained by the minutes of proceedings.

      The Arbitration Act contains an explicit acknowledgement that an agreement to arbitrate can also be incorporated by reference into a document neither directly attached to nor countersigned by the parties, as long as the reference to the document containing the arbitration clause is clear and specific. An example of such an agreement would be an arbitration clause included in a party’s general terms and conditions, which are referred to in the main contract. Even though general courts used to be reluctant to enforce arbitration agreements incorporated by reference, the statutory language is now set to override this line of case law.

      An arbitration agreement is also deemed validly concluded if it is included in the internal corporate documents of corporations. This allows for arbitrability of many corporate disputes. Arbitration clauses provided for in the corporate documentation are also, in principle, automatically binding on new shareholders in the company without the need for a separate accession or signature.  

  8. 8.Arbitrability
    Are any types of dispute non-arbitrable? If so, which?
    1. Arbitration as a form of dispute resolution is available in civil and commercial matters, including disputes on the existence of a legal relationship or legal title. The Arbitration Act thus allows almost all private law relationships, which do not involve a consumer contract, to be subjected to arbitration proceedings.

      The resolution of disputes involving consumer contracts was carved out from the scope of the Arbitration Act by the Amendment into a separate Consumer ADR Act, providing for a stricter regulatory and licensing regime.

      Furthermore, section 1 of the Arbitration Act contains an exhaustive list of non-arbitrable disputes, namely, personal status of physical persons including divorce, adoption etc.; ownership rights and other rights in rem in respect of immovable property; forced enforcement (execution) of court or administrative decisions, and disputes arising out of bankruptcy and work-out proceedings.

      Arbitrability used to be regulated stricter before the Amendment and the historical jurisprudence is rather rigid in its definition of arbitrable matters. It remains to be seen what jurisprudence will emerge on the question of arbitrability from the new liberal regime. 

  9. 9.Third parties
    Can a third party be bound by an arbitration clause and, if so, in what circumstances? Can third parties participate in the arbitration process through joinder or a third-party notice?
    1. The general rule is that an arbitration agreement cannot be invoked or enforced against a non-signatory. This rule does not hold true for legal successors of the original party to an arbitration agreement, unless it was explicitly specified in the arbitration agreement. Similarly, this rule is inapplicable in case of the arbitration clauses included in the founding documents of corporate entities (see question 7).

      Arbitration rules of some local institutions allow, subject to the tribunal’s approval, a third-party possessing a legal interest in the result of arbitration to join the proceedings as a new independent participant. If actions of the new party conflict with the actions of the original party holding the same litigation position either as a claimant or as a defendant then the arbitral tribunal would have to assess their validity in the light of all circumstances.

  10. 10.Consolidation
    Would an arbitral tribunal with its seat in your jurisdiction be able to consolidate separate arbitral proceedings under one or more contracts and, if so, in what circumstances?
    1. There is no express consolidation power of an arbitral tribunal under Slovak law. The arbitration rules of the Slovak Chamber of Commerce and the Slovak Banking Association do not address the issue either. Nevertheless, if a respondent purports to file a counterclaim against a claimant then he/she may do so with the same tribunal adjudicating on the original matter.
  11. 11.

    Groups of companies
    Is the 'group of companies doctrine' recognised in your jurisdiction?

    1. Slovak law does not recognise the “group of companies” doctrine as a means to bind associated corporate entities to an arbitration clause. As general courts tend to apply the ‘writing requirement’ very strictly, despite any specific case law, it is highly unlikely that a third-party group company would be forced to join the arbitration without previous express agreement.

  12. 12.Separability
    Are arbitration clauses considered separable from the main contract?
    1. Slovak Arbitration Act recognises the concept of separability of arbitration clauses. As specified in section 5 of the Arbitration Act, if an otherwise invalid contract contains an arbitration clause, such a clause would only be invalid if it suffers from the same reason for lack of validity as the rest of the contract. 

  13. 13.Competence-competence
    Is the principle of competence-competence recognised in your jurisdiction? Can a party to an arbitration ask the courts to determine an issue relating to the tribunal’s jurisdiction and competence?
    1. The doctrine of competence-competence is specifically recognised under section 21 of the Arbitration Act. The arbitral tribunal is authorised to decide on its own jurisdiction, including on challenges to the existence or validity of the arbitration agreement. Questions of competence are usually dealt with at the outset of the proceedings and if the tribunal decides it has no jurisdiction on merits, it is obliged to dismiss the claim and terminate the proceedings.

      The Amendment to the Arbitration Act also necessitated changes to the Slovak Code of Civil Procedure. One of the amendments reinforces the competence-competence principle by clearly recognising its ‘negative effect’ in relation to general courts. Under the new regime, a court is not able to continue hearing a claim for invalidity, non-existence or termination of an agreement to arbitrate if the same question is pending before an arbitral tribunal. This applies regardless of whether arbitral proceedings have been initiated before or after the general court proceedings. The new Code of Civil Litigation implemented all the above-mentioned Code of Civil Procedure novelties. 

      If the tribunal confirms its jurisdiction by way of a preliminary arbitral resolution despite a challenge posed by one of the parties, under the Arbitration Act, the challenging party may, within 30 days of obtaining such decision, ask the court to decide on the issue of jurisdiction. Should the court decide against the arbitral tribunal’s jurisdiction, the decision may be appealed by the other party. No appeal is possible where the first-instance court sides with the arbitral tribunal on the question of jurisdiction. Meanwhile, the arbitral tribunal may continue with proceedings and issue a final award. 

  14. 14.Drafting
    Are there particular issues to note when drafting an arbitration clause where your jurisdiction will be the seat of arbitration or the place where enforcement of an award will be sought?
    1. As long as the arbitration clause complies with the writing requirement as defined in the Arbitration Act, then there are no further requirements to be complied with. Should the question of validity of a certain arbitration clause arise, it would be for the arbitral tribunal to assess the issue.

  15. 15.Institutional arbitration
    Is institutional international arbitration more or less common than ad hoc international arbitration? Are the UNCITRAL Rules commonly used in ad hoc international arbitrations in your jurisdiction?
    1. Institutional arbitration is the norm and ad hoc arbitration a rare exception in Slovakia, as far as we know.
  16. 16.Multi-party agreements
    What, if any, are the particular points to note when drafting a multi-party arbitration agreement with your jurisdiction in mind? In relation to, for example, the appointment of arbitrators.
    1. There are no particular points to note except for the general requirements of arbitral agreements having to grant equality between the parties.

    Commencing the arbitration

  17. 17.Request for arbitration
    How are arbitral proceedings commenced in your jurisdiction? Are there any key provisions under the arbitration laws of your jurisdiction relating to limitation periods of which the parties should be aware?
    1. In the absence of an agreed procedure for commencement of an arbitral proceedings, the Arbitration Act sets out following possibilities which are applicable at different points in time. In ad hoc arbitrations, before establishment of a tribunal, proceedings are commenced by delivery of a written notice to the other party. If the tribunal is to be composed of more than one arbitrator, the proceedings are commenced by delivery of a claim to the chairman of the tribunal (alternatively, if the chairman has not yet been appointed, to any of arbitrators). Similarly, if the tribunal is composed of one arbitrator only then proceedings are commenced by delivery of the claim to this arbitrator. Where the arbitration is institutional, arbitration is initiated by delivery of the claim to the relevant institution.

      Both the Arbitration Act and the Code of Civil Procedure contain mirroring provisions that provide that where an arbitral tribunal or court make a ruling that they have no jurisdiction to hear a dispute (on the basis of the existence or non-existence of an agreement to arbitrate), limitation periods that would otherwise have elapsed because a claim was initially brought to the wrong forum, shall continue for another 30 days to allow the relevant party to bring the same claim to the competent court or arbitral tribunal.

    Choice of law

  18. 18.Choice of law
    How is the substantive law of the dispute determined? Where the substantive law is unclear, how will a tribunal determine what it should be?
    1. First and foremost, substantive law is determined by the arbitration agreement and choice made by the parties. After the Amendment, the Arbitration Act refers to the parties’ ability to also choose a set of legal principles to govern their dispute. This wording indicates that parties are free to choose even country-non-specific rules of law such as the UNCSG Convention or UNIDROIT principles. Any reference to a substantive law in an arbitration agreement excludes renvoi.

      In the absence of choice or agreement, the arbitral tribunal is free to apply rules of law which it considers appropriate under the conflict of law rules of its choice. At the same time, the arbitral tribunal is required to take into consideration commercial realities of the business relationships at hand and generally apply respective lex mercatoria. Parties may empower any tribunal to decide their dispute on the grounds of fairness, however, without such explicit empowerment, arbitrators must only decide on the basis of law.

      The regime for purely domestic arbitrations resembles more a standard court litigation procedure. The parties, as well as the arbitral tribunal, are free to choose applicable law to the extent permitted by domestic conflict of law rules, namely the Rome I Regulation. At the same time, non-country specific rules of law are not permitted as substantive law for purely domestic disputes.

    Appointing the tribunal

  19. 19.Choice of arbitrators
    Does the law of your jurisdiction place any limitations in respect of a party’s choice of arbitrator?
    1. The Arbitration Act contains a liberal approach towards a party’s choice of arbitrator.  An appointed person must be over the age of 18 years with a full legal capacity and must not have any prior criminal conviction for a wilful crime. 

  20. 20.Foreign arbitrators
    Can non-nationals act as arbitrators where the seat is in your jurisdiction or hearings are held there? Is this subject to any immigration or other requirements?
    1. Nationality of arbitrators does not play any role in selection of a tribunal, nor does it place any limitation on parties in terms of their appointments. If a non-national purports to act as an arbitrator in Slovakia, standard travel or visa requirements may apply to him/her. Citizens from the EU member states may act freely within the single market area.

  21. 21.Default appointment of arbitrators
    How are arbitrators appointed where no nomination is made by a party or parties or the selection mechanism fails for any reason? Do the courts have any role to play?
    1. Parties to arbitration are free to design a mechanism for the selection of arbitrators in their respective dispute. If a selection mechanism has not been agreed then the Arbitration Act prescribes that for a tribunal with three arbitrators, each party is to select one arbitrator and the two appointed will subsequently decide on the third one. If one of the parties fails to make any nomination within 15 days of the other party’s request or if the two appointed arbitrators fail to nominate a chair within 30 days of their nomination then an arbitrator will be selected by a court. Where a tribunal is to be composed of a sole arbitrator then the requesting party may go directly to a court.

      The above rules would in practice apply only to ad hoc arbitrations as institutional rules would always provide for a mechanism of appointing arbitrators.

  22. 22.Immunity
    Are arbitrators afforded immunity from suit under the law of your jurisdiction and, if so, in what terms?
    1. Arbitrators are afforded no special immunity for their function as adjudicators. Once arbitrators accept a nomination, they are bound to exercise their function in good faith and with professional care.
  23. 23.Securing payment of fees
    Can arbitrators secure payment of their fees in your jurisdiction? Are there fundholding services provided by relevant institutions?
    1. Slovak law does not provide for any specific rules in relation to arbitrators’ power to secure their fees. For securing payment of costs in general see below. In domestic institutional arbitrations, arbitrators are paid directly by the relevant institution, which in turn collects ad valorem fees from the claimant.

    Challenges to arbitrators

  24. 24.Grounds of challenge
    On what grounds may a party challenge an arbitrator? How are challenges dealt with in the courts or (as applicable) the main arbitration institutions in your jurisdiction? Will the IBA Guidelines on Conflicts of Interest in International Arbitration generally be taken into account?
    1. Every arbitrator has a duty to inform the parties about any circumstances that may have an impact on his or her impartiality. Parties may object to an arbitrator nominated by them or an arbitrator in whose nomination they participated, only in relation to grounds of challenge which they became aware of after the appointment was made. There is no specific guidance to assist in the interpretation of these grounds, nor is there any guideline for arbitrators as to which matters should be disclosed.

      A mechanism for the resolution of challenges may be agreed on by the parties. In the absence of such an agreement, if there are legitimate concerns about the impartiality of an arbitrator and the arbitrator concerned does not resign, any of the parties may ask an arbitral institution to remove the arbitrator from his or her function. The arbitration institution must decide on the challenge within 60 days.

      A party wishing to challenge an arbitrator must do so within 15 days of becoming aware of any grounds of challenge. If a challenge of an arbitrator is unsuccessful, the challenging party may, within 30 days following the delivery of the decision dismissing the challenge, request a court to decide on the challenge. A decision of the general court dismissing the challenge of the arbitrator cannot be appealed. While such a request is pending, the arbitral tribunal may continue the arbitral proceedings and render an award.

      It is unlikely that IBA Guidelines would be used in Slovakia for the resolution of challenges to arbitrators, as they remain largely unknown to the domestic arbitration community.

    Interim relief

  25. 25.

    Types of relief
    What main types of interim relief are available in respect of international arbitration and from whom (the tribunal or the courts)? Are anti-suit injunctions available where proceedings are brought elsewhere in breach of an arbitration agreement?

    1. Both general courts and arbitral tribunals are permitted to issue interim measures in support of arbitration. Following the Amendment, Slovak arbitration law reflects in principle the provisions on interim measures contained in the 2006 UNCITRAL Model Law.

      Arbitral tribunals may grant interim measures, inter alia: (i) prohibiting the disposal of some assets or funds; (ii) ordering a party to perform an action or refrain from doing so; (iii) ordering the disclosure of evidence; or (iv) depositing financial security with the arbitral tribunal.

      The Arbitration Act recognises two types of interim measures available to parties: (i) standard interim measures and ex parte interim measures. The arbitral tribunal may grant an ex parte interim measure without prior notice to the affected party if authorised to do so in the arbitration agreement, but such measures will not be immediately enforceable by Slovak courts. Once served with an ex parte measure, the affected party may file an objection with the arbitral tribunal within 15 days. If the objection is unsuccessful at the level of the arbitral tribunal, the interim measure will become a standard interim measure and, therefore, will be enforceable by courts. The affected party will have the opportunity to submit a further objection with a general court.

      Interim measures issued by arbitral tribunals with prior notice having been given to the affected party are capable of court enforcement. The arbitral tribunal is also permitted to order the requesting party to provide security to the affected party, which is aimed at covering any potential damages that could be caused by the interim measures.

      General courts are allowed to apply interim relief in accordance with the Code of Civil Procedure or the Code of Civil Litigation, which lists available interim measures encompassing a broad category of actions. A party to arbitration may only request an interim measure from the general court before the commencement of arbitral proceedings, or after the commencement, but before the appointment of the arbitral tribunal. Once the arbitral tribunal is established, it has sole jurisdiction to decide on measure of interim relief.  

      Anti-suit injunctions are unknown to Slovak jurisprudence and the courts are unlikely to issue them. Nevertheless, the provision on interim measures in the Code of Civil Procedure is wide enough to encompass injunctive relief if a party to an arbitration pursues such claim. 

  26. 26.Security for costs
    Does the law of your jurisdiction allow a court or tribunal to order a party to provide security for costs?
    1. Unless the parties have agreed otherwise, an arbitral tribunal may, in accordance with section 18(6) of the Arbitration Act, order a claimant to make an advance payment covering the expected costs of proceedings and set a time limit for compliance with such a duty. If the claimant fails to provide requested costs, the tribunal would dismiss the claim and stay proceedings.

    Procedure

  27. 27.

    Procedural rules
    Are there any mandatory rules in your jurisdiction that govern the conduct of the arbitration (eg, general duties of the tribunal and/or the parties)?

    1. The Arbitration Act being drafted in very liberal terms, parties are to a large extent free to agree on the specific procedural rules governing the arbitral proceedings. In general, rules which may not be derogated from include, inter alia, equal treatment and equality of parties, including a right to counterclaim and a response to a claim; right to present evidence; duty of the parties to cooperate with the arbitral tribunal; time limits set for challenge of certain actions in the proceedings; duty of arbitrators to act in a good faith and expeditiously.

      Where institutional or other rules agreed by the parties are silent on an issue of procedure, the arbitrators are free to manage the proceedings as they consider appropriate, nevertheless, always ensuring that the parties are treated equally. 

  28. 28.Refusal to participate
    What is the applicable law (and prevailing practice) where a respondent fails to participate in an arbitration?
    1. If a respondent fails to provide a response to a claim then an arbitral tribunal is allowed to continue with the proceedings, but without treating the respondent’s failure to act as an admission of the claimant’s allegations. Furthermore, if a party fails to appear at a hearing or present evidence, the arbitral tribunal shall proceed with the arbitration and issue an award on the basis of evidence before it. 

  29. 29.Admissible evidence
    What types of evidence are usually admitted, and how is evidence usually taken? Will the IBA Rules on the Taking of Evidence in International Commercial Arbitration generally be taken into account?
    1. In Slovakia, seated arbitrations the arbitral tribunal may only take into account evidence presented by the parties. The arbitral tribunal has discretion as to which evidence it will take and in which way this evidence will be utilised. The tribunal’s consideration of evidence shall depend on the extent to which the evidence at hand can contribute to the clarification of a dispute. An arbitral tribunal may ask a general court for assistance in matters of evidence. All the evidence can be freely, but at all times impartially, evaluated by an arbitral tribunal.

      The parties may decide on the procedure for the taking of evidence. There is no data available whether IBA Rules are used by arbitral tribunals.

  30. 30.Court assistance
    Will the courts in your jurisdiction play any role in the obtaining of evidence?
    1. In a case where an arbitral tribunal is unable to obtain evidence directly, it may ask a general court for assistance.
  31. 31.Document production
    What is the relevant law and prevailing practice relating to document production in international arbitration in your jurisdiction?
    1. There is no specific power of an arbitral tribunal to order document production in arbitral proceedings. It is usual for the arbitral tribunal to order document production only in relation to specific documents which are known to exist and being in the possession of the other party. The arbitral tribunal may order document production also in the form of interim relief, making such order directly enforceable by a court.

  32. 32.Hearings
    Is it mandatory to have a final hearing on the merits?
    1. Final hearings on the merits are not mandatory under Slovak arbitration law. In the absence of an express agreement it is up to the arbitral tribunal whether to order hearings or decide on the basis of written documents only. The arbitral tribunal shall hold a hearing at an appropriate stage of the proceedings, if so requested by a party, however parties may agree otherwise.   

  33. 33.Seat or place of arbitration
    If your jurisdiction is selected as the seat of arbitration, may hearings and procedural meetings be conducted elsewhere?
    1. According to section 23 of the Arbitration Act, it is accepted that arbitral proceedings may physically take place in a different state from the seat of arbitration and that procedural meetings and other actions may be conducted at any place which the arbitral tribunal or parties consider appropriate.

    Award

  34. 34.Majority decisions
    Can the tribunal decide by majority?
    1. At least a majority vote is required, and consequently sufficient, for every arbitration with three or more arbitrators. Where there are an equal number of votes, the chairman’s vote would be decisive.

  35. 35.Limitations to awards and relief
    Are there any particular types of remedies or relief that an arbitral tribunal may not grant?
    1. The Arbitration Act states that the arbitral tribunal must decide all the issues presented in the statement of claim or counterclaim, nevertheless, it must ensure that it does not exceed its mandate. 

  36. 36.Dissenting arbitrators
    Are dissenting opinions permitted under the law of your jurisdiction? If so, are they common in practice?
    1. Dissenting opinions are permitted under Slovak law and every arbitrator is allowed to attach his/her dissent to the award. Dissenting opinions are not common in practice.

  37. 37.Formalities
    What, if any, are the legal and formal requirements for a valid and enforceable award?
    1. The default position for Slovak seated arbitrations under the Arbitration Act is that an award must be in writing (hard copy) and signed by a majority of the arbitrators, with a stated reason for any absent signature. It must further identify the arbitral institution, names of the arbitrators, names of the parties, place of arbitration and the date on which it was made. An arbitration award shall contain a decision and, if the parties have not agreed otherwise, reasons for the decision. An arbitral tribunal must advise the parties about the possibility to initiate set aside proceedings before general courts. A decision on costs of arbitration may be included in a separate award.

  38. 38.Time frames
    What time limits, if any, should parties be aware of in respect of an award? In particular, do any time limits govern the interpretation and correction of an award?
    1. There are no time limits imposed on arbitrators to render an award. A challenge to the award must be filed with the relevant court within 60 days of a delivery of an award to the challenging party.

      Correction of the award in terms of typos, miscalculations and other obvious errors in writing must be performed by the arbitral tribunal on its own initiative or on the application of a party within 60 days of the award’s delivery.

      Each party may, within 30 days of the arbitral award’s delivery, ask the tribunal to provide an interpretation of any part of the decision.

      If the parties have agreed in their arbitration agreement that a new arbitrator may assess the arbitral award then a party must file such a request within 15 days of the issuance of the award. 

    Costs and interest

  39. 39.

    Costs
    Are parties able to recover fees paid and costs incurred? Does the "loser pays" rule generally apply in your jurisdiction?

    1. In the absence of an agreement of parties or a choice of arbitral institution’s rules, the Arbitration Act leaves the decision on costs allocation entirely with the arbitral tribunal. Generally the ‘the loser pays’ rule is applicable, nevertheless, costs of proceedings are sometimes determined in accordance with rules applicable to proceedings before general courts. Legal fees in Slovakia are almost always awarded on the basis of a legal decree which sets out an exact amount for each action undertaken in the court and usually does not reflect real expenditures of the parties.

  40. 40.Interest on the award
    Can interest be included on the principal claim and costs? Is there any mandatory or customary rate?
    1. Arbitral tribunal may award interest on the principal amount awarded in the decision on merits. Slovak substantive law contains a statutory limit on the amount of interest. It is unlikely that interest on costs of arbitration would be ordered.

    Challenging awards

  41. 41.Grounds for appeal
    Are there any grounds on which an award may be appealed before the courts of your jurisdiction?
    1. Section 40 of the Arbitration Act contains an exhaustive list of grounds on which an arbitration award may be challenged and mimics article 5 of the New York Convention. 

  42. 42.Other grounds for challenge
    Are there any other bases on which an award may be challenged, and if so what?
    1. There are no other grounds for challenge except those referred to in the Arbitration Act.

  43. 43.Modifying an award
    Is it open to the parties to exclude by agreement any right of appeal or other recourse that the law of your jurisdiction may provide?
    1. Parties are not permitted to exclude by agreement appeal or any other recourse. The general court shall not take into account the reasons for setting aside of an arbitral award if the challenging party has not raised them during the arbitration.

    Enforcement in your jurisdiction

  44. 44.Enforcement of set-aside awards
    Will an award that has been set aside by the courts in the seat of arbitration be enforced in your jurisdiction?
    1. There is no specific case law available on this topic. Nevertheless, the Arbitration Act transposed provisions of the New York Convention in their entirety and accordingly a general court may, but is not obliged to, refuse the enforcement of an award that has been set aside at the seat. It is further stated that if an award has been challenged in the country of origin, a Slovak court may upon motion of a party stay the enforcement of such award in Slovakia. 

  45. 45.Trends
    What trends, if any, are suggested by recent enforcement decisions? What is the prevailing approach of the courts in this regard?
    1. Slowly but steadily, a pro arbitration and pro enforcement attitude of the Slovak courts is beginning to emerge. The public policy exception is rarely used and there have been some encouraging enforcement decisions recently that emphasise that the term “public policy” ought to be interpreted in a narrow sense and in accordance with international standards.

      In addition, recent case law of the Constitutional Court of the Slovak Republic has criticised the nonchalant approach adopted by certain Slovak courts which has led to numerous refusals of enforcement of arbitral awards on the basis that the arbitration clause is allegedly invalid, but without an underlying analysis of the grounds for such invalidity. The Constitutional Court of the Slovak Republic has recently published an opinion purported to serve as a unifying interpretation of some of the controversial arbitration-related questions. The opinion follows the pro-arbitration movement ignited by the Amendment in 2015. It is expected that the general Slovak commercial courts would follow this unifying opinion in their future decisions.

      More than a year after the Model Law inspired a change to the Slovak lex abitri, it still remains to be seen whether the new pro-arbitration stance will be embraced by general courts and practitioners. Since consumer ADR is now clearly separated from the provisions on commercial arbitration, there are arguably no other major hindrances to the development of sound commercial arbitration case law by Slovak courts. 

  46. 46.State immunity
    To what extent might a state or state entity successfully raise a defence of state or sovereign immunity at the enforcement stage?
    1. There is an express prohibition on execution of state’s property in the Slovak Execution Code. Enforcement of an award against a state party might, consequently, be prejudiced by this provision. In relation to foreign states’ immunity, this issue is not regulated in Slovak law and would be dealt with under general rules of public international law.

    Further considerations

  47. 47.Confidentiality
    To what extent are arbitral proceedings in your jurisdiction confidential?
    1. Slovak seated arbitrations are private under the Arbitration Act. Arbitrators are bound by law to keep confidential all the information they came across during the arbitral proceedings. This duty of confidentiality is not, however, extended to parties or their representatives. The Arbitration Act further provides for a possibility of waiving the arbitrators’ duty of confidentiality by an agreement of the parties. 

  48. 48.Evidence and pleadings
    What is the position relating to evidence produced and pleadings filed in the arbitration? Are these confidential? Is there any way that they might be relied on in other proceedings (whether arbitral or court proceedings)?
    1. Subject to confidentiality agreements made between the parties and the relevant arbitral institution or arbitrators, evidence produced in arbitration proceedings may be used in other proceedings as well. Slovak law operates under the doctrine of free evaluation and utilisation of evidence. Thus, a new tribunal or court would not be obliged to place the same evidentiary value on evidence produced previously in different arbitration/court proceedings. The evaluation of evidence must be performed by the arbitral tribunal in a way that preserves any statutory-imposed duty of confidentiality of the parties. 

  49. 49.Ethical codes
    What ethical codes and other professional standards, if any, apply to counsel and arbitrators conducting proceedings in your jurisdiction?
    1. Lawyers acting as counsel or arbitrators are generally bound by ethical and professional codes of the Slovak Bar Association. Furthermore, as stated in the Arbitration Act, arbitrators are required to act in a good faith on bona fide terms and in the interest of justice.

  50. 50.Procedural expectations
    Are there any particular procedural expectations or assumptions of which counsel or arbitrators participating in an international arbitration with its seat in your jurisdiction should be aware?
    1. Some Slovak courts still have a tendency to interpret the concept of arbitrability in a narrow way, so that they would regard disputes on the validity of a contractual document as non-arbitrable, due to them not being capable of settlement before general courts.

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GAR know-how provides reliable cross-jurisdictional insight to help cement the building blocks of international practice. In this section, select experienced practitioners answer commonly asked questions for key jurisdictions so allowing readers to be better-placed to solve the challenges of their working days.

Questions

    Infrastructure

  1. 1.The New York Convention
    Is your state a party to the New York Convention? Are there any noteworthy declarations or reservations?
  2. 2.Other treaties
    Is your state a party to any other bilateral or multilateral treaties regarding the recognition and enforcement of arbitral awards?
  3. 3.National law
    Is there an arbitration act or equivalent and, if so, is it based on the UNCITRAL Model Law? Does it apply to all arbitral proceedings with their seat in your jurisdiction?
  4. 4.Arbitration bodies in your jurisdiction
    What arbitration bodies relevant to international arbitration are based within your jurisdiction? Do such bodies also act as appointing authorities?
  5. 5.Foreign institutions
    Can foreign arbitral providers operate in your jurisdiction?
  6. 6.Courts
    Is there a specialist arbitration court? Is the judiciary in your jurisdiction generally familiar with the law and practice of international arbitration?
  7. Agreement to arbitrate

  8. 7.Formalities
    What, if any, requirements must be met if an arbitration agreement is to be valid and enforceable under the law of your jurisdiction? Can an arbitration agreement cover future disputes?
  9. 8.Arbitrability
    Are any types of dispute non-arbitrable? If so, which?
  10. 9.Third parties
    Can a third party be bound by an arbitration clause and, if so, in what circumstances? Can third parties participate in the arbitration process through joinder or a third-party notice?
  11. 10.Consolidation
    Would an arbitral tribunal with its seat in your jurisdiction be able to consolidate separate arbitral proceedings under one or more contracts and, if so, in what circumstances?
  12. 11.

    Groups of companies
    Is the 'group of companies doctrine' recognised in your jurisdiction?


  13. 12.Separability
    Are arbitration clauses considered separable from the main contract?
  14. 13.Competence-competence
    Is the principle of competence-competence recognised in your jurisdiction? Can a party to an arbitration ask the courts to determine an issue relating to the tribunal’s jurisdiction and competence?
  15. 14.Drafting
    Are there particular issues to note when drafting an arbitration clause where your jurisdiction will be the seat of arbitration or the place where enforcement of an award will be sought?
  16. 15.Institutional arbitration
    Is institutional international arbitration more or less common than ad hoc international arbitration? Are the UNCITRAL Rules commonly used in ad hoc international arbitrations in your jurisdiction?
  17. 16.Multi-party agreements
    What, if any, are the particular points to note when drafting a multi-party arbitration agreement with your jurisdiction in mind? In relation to, for example, the appointment of arbitrators.
  18. Commencing the arbitration

  19. 17.Request for arbitration
    How are arbitral proceedings commenced in your jurisdiction? Are there any key provisions under the arbitration laws of your jurisdiction relating to limitation periods of which the parties should be aware?
  20. Choice of law

  21. 18.Choice of law
    How is the substantive law of the dispute determined? Where the substantive law is unclear, how will a tribunal determine what it should be?
  22. Appointing the tribunal

  23. 19.Choice of arbitrators
    Does the law of your jurisdiction place any limitations in respect of a party’s choice of arbitrator?
  24. 20.Foreign arbitrators
    Can non-nationals act as arbitrators where the seat is in your jurisdiction or hearings are held there? Is this subject to any immigration or other requirements?
  25. 21.Default appointment of arbitrators
    How are arbitrators appointed where no nomination is made by a party or parties or the selection mechanism fails for any reason? Do the courts have any role to play?
  26. 22.Immunity
    Are arbitrators afforded immunity from suit under the law of your jurisdiction and, if so, in what terms?
  27. 23.Securing payment of fees
    Can arbitrators secure payment of their fees in your jurisdiction? Are there fundholding services provided by relevant institutions?
  28. Challenges to arbitrators

  29. 24.Grounds of challenge
    On what grounds may a party challenge an arbitrator? How are challenges dealt with in the courts or (as applicable) the main arbitration institutions in your jurisdiction? Will the IBA Guidelines on Conflicts of Interest in International Arbitration generally be taken into account?
  30. Interim relief

  31. 25.

    Types of relief
    What main types of interim relief are available in respect of international arbitration and from whom (the tribunal or the courts)? Are anti-suit injunctions available where proceedings are brought elsewhere in breach of an arbitration agreement?


  32. 26.Security for costs
    Does the law of your jurisdiction allow a court or tribunal to order a party to provide security for costs?
  33. Procedure

  34. 27.

    Procedural rules
    Are there any mandatory rules in your jurisdiction that govern the conduct of the arbitration (eg, general duties of the tribunal and/or the parties)?


  35. 28.Refusal to participate
    What is the applicable law (and prevailing practice) where a respondent fails to participate in an arbitration?
  36. 29.Admissible evidence
    What types of evidence are usually admitted, and how is evidence usually taken? Will the IBA Rules on the Taking of Evidence in International Commercial Arbitration generally be taken into account?
  37. 30.Court assistance
    Will the courts in your jurisdiction play any role in the obtaining of evidence?
  38. 31.Document production
    What is the relevant law and prevailing practice relating to document production in international arbitration in your jurisdiction?
  39. 32.Hearings
    Is it mandatory to have a final hearing on the merits?
  40. 33.Seat or place of arbitration
    If your jurisdiction is selected as the seat of arbitration, may hearings and procedural meetings be conducted elsewhere?
  41. Award

  42. 34.Majority decisions
    Can the tribunal decide by majority?
  43. 35.Limitations to awards and relief
    Are there any particular types of remedies or relief that an arbitral tribunal may not grant?
  44. 36.Dissenting arbitrators
    Are dissenting opinions permitted under the law of your jurisdiction? If so, are they common in practice?
  45. 37.Formalities
    What, if any, are the legal and formal requirements for a valid and enforceable award?
  46. 38.Time frames
    What time limits, if any, should parties be aware of in respect of an award? In particular, do any time limits govern the interpretation and correction of an award?
  47. Costs and interest

  48. 39.

    Costs
    Are parties able to recover fees paid and costs incurred? Does the "loser pays" rule generally apply in your jurisdiction?


  49. 40.Interest on the award
    Can interest be included on the principal claim and costs? Is there any mandatory or customary rate?
  50. Challenging awards

  51. 41.Grounds for appeal
    Are there any grounds on which an award may be appealed before the courts of your jurisdiction?
  52. 42.Other grounds for challenge
    Are there any other bases on which an award may be challenged, and if so what?
  53. 43.Modifying an award
    Is it open to the parties to exclude by agreement any right of appeal or other recourse that the law of your jurisdiction may provide?
  54. Enforcement in your jurisdiction

  55. 44.Enforcement of set-aside awards
    Will an award that has been set aside by the courts in the seat of arbitration be enforced in your jurisdiction?
  56. 45.Trends
    What trends, if any, are suggested by recent enforcement decisions? What is the prevailing approach of the courts in this regard?
  57. 46.State immunity
    To what extent might a state or state entity successfully raise a defence of state or sovereign immunity at the enforcement stage?
  58. Further considerations

  59. 47.Confidentiality
    To what extent are arbitral proceedings in your jurisdiction confidential?
  60. 48.Evidence and pleadings
    What is the position relating to evidence produced and pleadings filed in the arbitration? Are these confidential? Is there any way that they might be relied on in other proceedings (whether arbitral or court proceedings)?
  61. 49.Ethical codes
    What ethical codes and other professional standards, if any, apply to counsel and arbitrators conducting proceedings in your jurisdiction?
  62. 50.Procedural expectations
    Are there any particular procedural expectations or assumptions of which counsel or arbitrators participating in an international arbitration with its seat in your jurisdiction should be aware?