Commercial Arbitration

Last verified on Wednesday 5th May 2021

Commercial Arbitration: Slovakia

Martin Magal and Michal Porubsky

Allen & Overy LLP

Infrastructure

1. Is your state a party to the New York Convention? Are there any noteworthy declarations or reservations?

Slovakia

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.

Answer contributed by Martin Magal and Michal Porubsky

2. Is your state a party to any other bilateral or multilateral treaties regarding the recognition and enforcement of arbitral awards?

Slovakia

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.

Answer contributed by Martin Magal and Michal Porubsky

3. 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?

Slovakia

Commercial arbitrations seated in Slovakia are principally governed by Act No. 244/2002 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. 160/2015, the Code of Civil Litigation (the Code of Civil Litigation) apply to the relationship between courts and tribunals, especially in terms of support for arbitration proceedings. The Code of Civil Litigation came into force on 1 July 2016, replacing its predecessor, the Act No. 99/1963, the Code of Civil Procedure, as amended (the Code of Civil Procedure). Arbitration-like alternative dispute resolution methods applying to consumer contracts are governed by Act. No. 335/2014 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. 

Answer contributed by Martin Magal and Michal Porubsky

4. What arbitration bodies relevant to international arbitration are based within your jurisdiction? Do such bodies also act as appointing authorities?

Slovakia

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.

Among the most prominent local arbitration bodies are the Arbitration Court of the Slovak Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Arbitration Court of the Slovak Bar Association. Over the past several years, Slovakia has struggled with a high proliferation of permanent arbitral institutions of a doubtful quality. The Amendment solved this issue by allowing only several specifically listed institutions to establish new arbitration bodies in Slovakia. As of 1 January 2017, the existing arbitration bodies that do not fulfil the requirements stipulated by the Amendment 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.

Answer contributed by Martin Magal and Michal Porubsky

5. Can foreign arbitral providers operate in your jurisdiction?

Slovakia

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.   

Answer contributed by Martin Magal and Michal Porubsky

6. Is there a specialist arbitration court? Is the judiciary in your jurisdiction generally familiar with, and supportive of, the law and practice of international arbitration?

Slovakia

The Code of Civil Litigation vests jurisdiction in matters relating to commercial arbitration in three district courts (courts of first instance) 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 the practice of international arbitration is higher at the level of regional courts (courts of second instance) and the Supreme Court (a cassation court), although now with only three courts of first instance empowered to hear arbitration related disputes, the situation is likely to change in the near future. The courts of all instances, including the Constitutional Court, seem to be increasingly more supportive of arbitration recently.

Answer contributed by Martin Magal and Michal Porubsky

Agreement to arbitrate

7. 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?

Slovakia

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.

Answer contributed by Martin Magal and Michal Porubsky

8. Are any types of dispute non-arbitrable? If so, which?

Slovakia

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. The Supreme Court of the Slovak Republic further opined that employment matters are non-arbitrable in Slovakia.  

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.

Answer contributed by Martin Magal and Michal Porubsky

9. 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?

Slovakia

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.

Answer contributed by Martin Magal and Michal Porubsky

10. 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?

Slovakia

The Arbitration Act does not expressly provide for a general power of an arbitral tribunal to consolidate separate arbitral proceedings into one. However, this power is recognised in the arbitration rules of some local arbitral bodies. Pursuant to the Rules of Procedure of the Arbitration Court of the Slovak Bar Association, the proceedings may be consolidated only upon the party’s request and after having considered the compatibility of the arbitration agreements and the composition of the arbitral tribunals.

Further, it is generally recognised that if a respondent purports to file a counterclaim against a claimant then he or she may do so with the same tribunal adjudicating on the original matter.

Answer contributed by Martin Magal and Michal Porubsky

11. Is the "group of companies doctrine" recognised in your jurisdiction?

Slovakia

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.

Answer contributed by Martin Magal and Michal Porubsky

12. Are arbitration clauses considered separable from the main contract?

Slovakia

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. 

Answer contributed by Martin Magal and Michal Porubsky

13. 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 tribunals jurisdiction and competence?

Slovakia

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.

One of the amendments brought by the recent Code of Civil Litigation is the recognition of the ‘negative effect’ of the competence-competence principle. If the arbitration has already commenced, a court is not able to hear a claim for invalidity, non-existence or termination of an agreement to arbitrate if the same question is pending before an arbitral tribunal. If the arbitration has not yet commenced, a court may be able to determine an issue relating to the tribunal’s jurisdiction, particularly if (i) the recognition of a foreign award in the same matter has been refused in Slovakia, (ii) the dispute is non-arbitrable under Slovak law or (iii) the tribunal has declined jurisdiction.    

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.

Answer contributed by Martin Magal and Michal Porubsky

14. 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?

Slovakia

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.

Answer contributed by Martin Magal and Michal Porubsky

15. 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?

Slovakia

The institutional arbitration is the predominant choice in Slovakia. There are no data available regarding the rules under which the ad hoc arbitrations are conducted in Slovakia.

Answer contributed by Martin Magal and Michal Porubsky

16. 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.

Slovakia

There are no particular points to note except for the general requirements of arbitral agreements having to grant equality between the parties.

Answer contributed by Martin Magal and Michal Porubsky

Commencing the arbitration

17. 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?

Slovakia

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.

Answer contributed by Martin Magal and Michal Porubsky

Choice of law

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

Slovakia

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.

Answer contributed by Martin Magal and Michal Porubsky

Appointing the tribunal

19. Does the law of your jurisdiction place any limitations in respect of a partys choice of arbitrator?

Slovakia

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. 

Answer contributed by Martin Magal and Michal Porubsky

20. 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?

Slovakia

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 or her. Citizens from the EU member states may act freely within the single market area.

Answer contributed by Martin Magal and Michal Porubsky

21. 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?

Slovakia

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, the Arbitration Act prescribes that for a tribunal with three arbitrators, each party is to select one arbitrator and the two appointed arbitrators 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, an arbitrator may be selected by a court. The court will only step in upon the request of a party, which allows parties to agree to on a longer period for the appointments if needed. Where a tribunal is to be composed of a sole arbitrator then the requesting party may go directly to a court.    

Arbitrators can also be selected by the court if the parties had agreed that an arbitrator will be appointed by a natural or a legal person selected by the parties (the Appointing Authority), and at the moment of an arbitrator’s appointment, (i) the Appointing Authority does not exist; (ii) the Appointing Authority does not have the power to appoint an arbitrator or (iii) the Appointing Authority fails to appoint an arbitrator within the agreed time period.

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

Answer contributed by Martin Magal and Michal Porubsky

22. Are arbitrators afforded immunity from suit under the law of your jurisdiction and, if so, in what terms?

Slovakia

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. Shall arbitrators breach relevant standards of conduct imposed by law, they can be liable for damages in accordance with the Civil Code of the Slovak Republic and face criminal sanctions in accordance with the Criminal Code of the Slovak Republic.

Answer contributed by Martin Magal and Michal Porubsky

23. Can arbitrators secure payment of their fees in your jurisdiction? Are there fundholding services provided by relevant institutions?

Slovakia

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.

Answer contributed by Martin Magal and Michal Porubsky

Challenges to arbitrators

24. 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?

Slovakia

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.

Answer contributed by Martin Magal and Michal Porubsky

Interim relief

25. 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?

Slovakia

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 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 Litigation is wide enough to encompass injunctive relief if a party to an arbitration pursues such claim.

Answer contributed by Martin Magal and Michal Porubsky

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

Slovakia

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.

Answer contributed by Martin Magal and Michal Porubsky

Procedure

27. 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)?

Slovakia

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.

Answer contributed by Martin Magal and Michal Porubsky

28. What is the applicable law (and prevailing practice) where a respondent fails to participate in an arbitration?

Slovakia

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.

Answer contributed by Martin Magal and Michal Porubsky

29. What types of evidence are usually admitted, and how is evidence usually taken? Will the IBA Rules on the Taking of Evidence in International Arbitration generally be taken into account?

Slovakia

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.

Due to geographical proximity the Prague Rules received a lot of attention in Slovakia when published. As the Prague Rules follow a civil law perception of arbitration, their local reach may be higher than with the IBA Rules. Nevertheless, neither the IBA Rules nor the Prague Rules are expected to be dominant in assessing the admissibility of evidence in Slovakia-seated arbitrations.

Answer contributed by Martin Magal and Michal Porubsky

30. Will the courts in your jurisdiction play any role in the obtaining of evidence?

Slovakia

Exceptionally, when it would not be possible for an arbitral tribunal to obtain specific evidence, the arbitral tribunal may seek the assistance of the civil court.

Answer contributed by Martin Magal and Michal Porubsky

31. What is the relevant law and prevailing practice relating to document production in international arbitration in your jurisdiction?

Slovakia

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 that are known to exist and that are 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.

Answer contributed by Martin Magal and Michal Porubsky

32. Is it mandatory to have a final hearing on the merits?

Slovakia

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.   

Answer contributed by Martin Magal and Michal Porubsky

33. If your jurisdiction is selected as the seat of arbitration, may hearings and procedural meetings be conducted elsewhere?

Slovakia

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 and the parties consider appropriate.

Answer contributed by Martin Magal and Michal Porubsky

Award

34. Can the tribunal decide by majority?

Slovakia

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.

Answer contributed by Martin Magal and Michal Porubsky

35. Are there any particular types of remedies or relief that an arbitral tribunal may not grant?

Slovakia

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. 

Answer contributed by Martin Magal and Michal Porubsky

36. Are dissenting opinions permitted under the law of your jurisdiction? If so, are they common in practice?

Slovakia

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.

Answer contributed by Martin Magal and Michal Porubsky

37. What, if any, are the legal and formal requirements for a valid and enforceable award?

Slovakia

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.

Answer contributed by Martin Magal and Michal Porubsky

38. 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?

Slovakia

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.

Answer contributed by Martin Magal and Michal Porubsky

Costs and interest

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

Slovakia

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 in Slovakia.

Nevertheless, legal fees in Slovakia are often awarded on the basis of a legal decree which sets out an exact amount for each action undertaken in the court or in the arbitration and usually does not reflect real expenditures of the parties. In such case, the recovery of fees paid and costs incurred in the arbitration might be subject to the proportionality requirement and be limited.

Answer contributed by Martin Magal and Michal Porubsky

40. Can interest be included on the principal claim and costs? Is there any mandatory or customary rate?

Slovakia

Arbitral tribunal may award interest on the principal amount awarded in the decision on merits. Slovak law provides for a default statutory interest rate which varies depending on the subject matter. It is unlikely that interest on costs of arbitration would be ordered.

Answer contributed by Martin Magal and Michal Porubsky

Challenging awards

41. Are there any grounds on which an award may be appealed before the courts of your jurisdiction?

Slovakia

An appeal of the award, as opposed to seeking its annulment, is not available. A limited form of review of the award by the courts, primarily in terms of its objective arbitrability and compliance with public policy, occurs at the enforcement stage.

Answer contributed by Martin Magal and Michal Porubsky

42. Are there any other bases on which an award may be challenged, and if so what?

Slovakia

Section 40 of the Arbitration Act contains an exhaustive list of grounds on which the award may be challenged, which mimics article 5 of the New York Convention. There are no other grounds for challenge except those referred to in the Arbitration Act.

Answer contributed by Martin Magal and Michal Porubsky

43. 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?

Slovakia

Parties are not permitted to waive the right to seek the annulment of the award at the outset. Only after a specific default has occurred, and that default is not subject to an ex offo review by the courts, parties may waive their right to seek the annulment of the award on the basis of that specific default. The general court shall also not take into account the reasons for setting aside of an arbitral award if the challenging party has not raised them during the arbitration.

Answer contributed by Martin Magal and Michal Porubsky

Enforcement in your jurisdiction

44. Will an award that has been set aside by the courts in the seat of arbitration be enforced in your jurisdiction?

Slovakia

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. 

Answer contributed by Martin Magal and Michal Porubsky

45. What trends, if any, are suggested by recent enforcement decisions? What is the prevailing approach of the courts in this regard?

Slovakia

More than four years after the Model Law was fully reflected in Slovak arbitration framework, a pro-arbitration and pro-enforcement stance can be observed among 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. The public policy exception is rarely used and there have been some encouraging enforcement decisions that emphasise that the notion of “public policy” is ought to be interpreted in a narrow sense and in accordance with international standards.   

Answer contributed by Martin Magal and Michal Porubsky

46. To what extent might a state or state entity successfully raise a defence of state or sovereign immunity at the enforcement stage?

Slovakia

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.

Answer contributed by Martin Magal and Michal Porubsky

Further considerations

47. To what extent are arbitral proceedings in your jurisdiction confidential?

Slovakia

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.

Answer contributed by Martin Magal and Michal Porubsky

48. 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)?

Slovakia

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. Any further evaluation of evidence must be performed by the arbitral tribunal in a way that preserves the statutory-imposed duty of confidentiality of the parties.

Answer contributed by Martin Magal and Michal Porubsky

49. What ethical codes and other professional standards, if any, apply to counsel and arbitrators conducting proceedings in your jurisdiction?

Slovakia

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.

Answer contributed by Martin Magal and Michal Porubsky

50. 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?

Slovakia

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.

Answer contributed by Martin Magal and Michal Porubsky

51. Is third-party funding permitted in your jurisdiction? If so, are there any rules governing its use?

Slovakia

In principle, nothing in Slovak law prohibits third-party funding agreements concerning arbitration. Nevertheless, it is unlikely that such agreement would be concluded in respect of any Slovakia seated arbitration as the amounts in disputes being adjudicated in Slovakia do not support third-party funding arrangements. There are no specific rules governing the third party funding.

Answer contributed by Martin Magal and Michal Porubsky

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