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Arbitration agreements

Validity

What are the validity requirements for an arbitration agreement?

The validity and scope of an arbitration agreement, as well as the authority of the parties to enter into such an agreement, is determined according to the substantive law selected by the parties to govern their legal relationship.

An arbitration agreement must be in writing. The lack of this formality is remedied when the parties participate in arbitral proceedings without reservation. An arbitration agreement is valid when invoked in a pleading communicated to the other party in the context of arbitral proceedings and the recipient of the pleading does not object. Further, an arbitration agreement is valid if:

  • it is mentioned in a document communicated by one party to the other or both parties by a third party; and
  • none of the document’s recipients raise any objections within a reasonable period.

In this context, to enter into an arbitration agreement validly, a representative must always be empowered by a written authorisation. 

Enforcement of agreements

How are arbitration agreements enforced in your jurisdiction? What is the attitude of the national courts towards arbitration agreements?

The Code of Civil Procedure and Law 2735/1999, which incorporates the UN Commission on International Trade Model Law, fully recognise arbitration agreements as a means of resolving disputes.

Greek courts will not hear a case for which arbitration is agreed. If a party brings an action before ordinary courts and the counterparty timely and specifically invokes the arbitration agreement as a defence to such judicial action, the court must stay the proceeding and refer the parties to arbitration, provided that the dispute falls within the scope of the arbitration agreement.

Greek courts tend to enforce arbitration agreements for future disputes when they are in writing and refer to a specific legal relationship under which disputes will arise. The courts will also give effect to arbitration agreements that are drafted broadly to capture all disputes that arise under the main contract, in which case the parties can refer to:

  • arbitration claims relating to the interpretation and performance of the main contract; and
  • non-contractual (eg, tort) claims relating to or arising from the main contract.

Consolidation

Can an arbitral tribunal with its seat in your jurisdiction consolidate separate arbitral proceedings under one or more contracts, and, if so, in what circumstances?

There is no specific provision under the Code of Civil Procedure or Law 2735/1999 preventing an arbitral tribunal from consolidating separate arbitral proceedings. Provided that the seat of arbitration is in Greece and Greek procedural law therefore applies, such consolidation would be feasible where the disputes at stake have similar legal and factual elements and a high correlation exists between the different claims pursued through the separately initiated arbitral proceedings.

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?

The substantive law of the dispute is determined by the parties. If the parties have not opted for a specific substantive law to govern their contractual relationships and any disputes arising therefrom, the following shall apply:

  • In domestic arbitration and international disputes of a non-commercial nature, the tribunal will apply the substantive provisions of Greek law.
  • In international commercial arbitration, the tribunal will apply the law which it considers applicable to the case in line with the International Private Law rules.

In cases with a lack of clarity, the arbitral tribunal will determine the applicable substantive law on the basis of the contractual terms and related commercial practices. According to Law 2735/1999, the tribunal will act as amiable compositeur (ie, not bound by strict rules of law, but will resolve the dispute on the basis of equity and fairness) when determining the applicable substantive law, provided that the parties have expressly authorised the tribunal to act in this way.

Separability

Are there any provisions on the separability of arbitration agreements?

According to Law 2735/1999, an arbitration agreement will be expressly treated as an independent agreement. This independence is further reinforced, albeit implicitly, by the Code of Civil Procedure. An arbitration agreement may be considered valid even if the rest of the contract in which it is contained is invalid. 

Multiparty agreements

Are multiparty agreements recognised?

The Code of Civil Procedure and Law 2735/1999 are silent on multi-party agreements. Given that there is no relevant restriction, multi-party agreements are recognised by the Greek courts.

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