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Starting an arbitration proceeding
What is needed to commence arbitration?
The parties are free to determine the procedure for the commencement of arbitration. It is generally sufficient for the claimant to notify the respondent of its request for arbitration, stating the name and details of its appointed arbitrator. Unless otherwise required under the arbitration agreement, the respondent must reply to this request within eight days of receipt, indicating the name and details of its own appointed arbitrator. If the request for arbitration also states the facts supporting the claims, the points at issue and the relief or remedy sought, the respondent should state its defence within 30 days of receipt of the request for arbitration.
Are there any limitation periods for the commencement of arbitration?
Depending on the content of the request for arbitration, as per the above, the limitation period for the commencement of arbitration may be either eight or 30 days from receipt of such request.
Are there any procedural rules that arbitrators must follow?
The arbitrators are bound by certain procedural rules which are considered essential to ensure that the parties to arbitration have the opportunity to present their case and answer the case against them (due process). No other mandatory procedural rules for arbitrators are provided for under Greek law.
Are dissenting opinions permitted under the law of your jurisdiction?
Yes. Although Greek law contains no provisions on dissenting opinions, such opinions are permitted and are often included in arbitration awards in practice, in both domestic and international arbitration.
Can local courts intervene in proceedings?
Yes. The Greek courts can intervene in the arbitration proceedings, but only following a request from a party or from the arbitral tribunal itself. For instance, a party may seek interim measures from the court either before or during the arbitration proceedings. In addition, the arbitral tribunal, or a party to arbitration with the approval of the tribunal, may request assistance with taking evidence from a court.
Can the local courts assist in choosing arbitrators?
At the request of a party to the arbitration, the competent court of first instance will intervene and assist in the composition of the arbitral tribunal. In this regard, few procedural differences and particularities exist, depending on whether the arbitration is national or international.
What is the applicable law (and prevailing practice) where a respondent fails to participate in an arbitration? Can they compel parties to arbitrate? Can they issue subpoenas to third parties?
Where a respondent fails to participate in arbitration, the claimant may request the competent court of first instance to take the necessary measures to secure the appointment of the arbitrators and the commencement of arbitration. The court’s decisions are not subject to appeal.
Any default of a party after the commencement of arbitration proceedings does not affect the proceedings: the tribunal has the power to continue the proceedings and issue an award on the evidence before it. Any measure taken by the arbitral tribunal may generally be ordered only against the parties to the arbitration agreement. However, third parties may be seized in certain circumstances with the intervention of the courts.
As a general rule, Greek arbitration law provides sufficient protection against parties reluctant to arbitrate.
In what instances can third parties be bound by an arbitration agreement or award?
Greek law contains no provisions on the instances in which third parties can be bound by an arbitration agreement or award. As a general rule, the arbitral award is bound on the parties to the arbitration agreement. In practice, the binding scope of an arbitration agreement or award with respect to third parties depends mainly on the facts of the dispute, the terms of the relevant various contracts, the relevant arbitration rules and the applicable law.
Default language and seat
Unless agreed by the parties, what is the default language and location for arbitrations?
Unless the parties have agreed otherwise, the choice of both the language and the seat of the arbitration is subject to the arbitrators’ discretion. That said, Greek Law 2735/1999 on international commercial arbitration specifies that the seat of arbitration must be located in Greece.
How is evidence obtained by the tribunal?
The parties are free to determine the evidentiary rules of the arbitration proceedings, either directly or by reference to a specific set of rules. Failing this, the issue is subject to the discretion of the arbitrators.
Greek law contains no provisions on the disclosure of documents before the commencement of arbitration (pre-arbitration disclosure). However, the arbitral tribunal may order the disclosure of specific documents during the arbitration proceedings, and may also take the necessary measures to preserve evidence, provided that these do not contradict with public policy and order.
The arbitral tribunal, or a party with the tribunal’s consent, may seek assistance from the competent court during the evidence-gathering procedure. The court may grant such request and provide such assistance pursuant to the Civil Procedure Code.
The IBA Rules on the Taking of Evidence in International Arbitration are a fairly common and rather acceptable set of rules, especially in the case of international commercial arbitrations in Greece.
What kinds of evidence are acceptable?
Depending on the parties’ or the arbitrators’ determination, witness evidence may be provided either orally or in writing, or through a combination thereof. Cross-examination of witnesses is also permissible.
The tribunal may appoint one or more experts to report to it on specific issues. It may also require either or both of the parties to produce or provide access to any relevant documents, goods or other property for inspection. After submission of the expert’s report, and at the request of either party, an oral hearing may take place, during which the parties can ask questions and call other witnesses. The arbitrators cannot use personal information as evidence.
Is confidentiality ensured?
Yes. Confidentiality is effectively ensured in the context of arbitrations taking place in Greece. In the case of domestic (national) arbitration, the parties should specifically stipulate whether they agree to have the arbitral award filed with the Registry of the Court of First Instance, thereby obtaining partial publicity (partial because parties must prove a legal interest in order to obtain a published arbitral award).
Can information in arbitral proceedings be disclosed in subsequent proceedings?
As a general rule, no information with regard to arbitration proceedings can be disclosed in subsequent proceedings without the parties’ consent.
What ethical codes and other professional standards, if any, apply to counsel and arbitrators conducting proceedings in your jurisdiction?
The Lawyer’s Code of Ethics is applicable to counsel and arbitrators if they are licensed attorneys at law in Greece.
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