Arbitration agreements

What are the formal requirements for an enforceable arbitration agreement?

The arbitration agreement needs to be in writing and must be contained either in a written document signed by both parties or in letters, telefaxes and emails or other means of transmitting messages between the parties, which provide a record of the agreement. The reference in a contract complying with these formal requirements to a document containing an arbitration agreement (eg, in general terms and conditions) constitutes an arbitration agreement, provided that the reference is such as to make that arbitration agreement part of the contract.

Arbitral procedure

Does the domestic law contain substantive requirements for the procedure to be followed?

The arbitral tribunal adjudicates the dispute pursuant to the statutory provisions or rules of law as agreed upon by the parties. Unless the parties have expressly agreed otherwise, any agreement as to the law or the legal system of a given state shall be construed as directly referring to the substantive law of that state and not to its conflict of laws rules (section 620(1) ZPO). In the absence of a choice of law, the arbitral tribunal will apply the statutory provisions or rules of law it considers appropriate; that is, the provisions that have the closest connection to the dispute (section 620(2) ZPO).

Subject to the mandatory provisions of section 611 et seq ZPO, the parties are free to agree on the rules of procedure. Section 611 para 2, which provides that the parties are to be treated fairly and that each party shall be granted the right to be heard, is mandatory, for example.

The parties may also refer to other rules of procedure. Failing such agreement, the arbitral tribunal, subject to the provisions of the applicable law, must conduct the arbitration in such manner as it considers appropriate (section 611(1) ZPO).


When and in what form must the award be delivered?

Once the arbitral tribunal is satisfied and finds that the factual basis of the case is duly presented and the matter ready for taking a decision, it will close the proceedings and render the arbitral award.

The award has to be made in writing and must be signed by the arbitrator or arbitrators. Unless otherwise agreed by the parties, in arbitral proceedings with more than one arbitrator, the signatures of the majority of all members of the arbitral tribunal suffice, provided that the reason for any omitted signature is stated on the arbitral award. If the parties have not agreed otherwise, the award needs to give the reasons that form the basis of the decision. Furthermore, the award must state the date on which it was rendered and the seat of the arbitral tribunal as determined in section 612(1) ZPO.

A signed copy of the award needs to be served to each party. The award and the documentation on its service are joint documents of the parties and the arbitrators. The arbitral tribunal has to discuss possible safekeeping of the award and the documentation of its service with the parties. Upon request of a party, the chairman (or, in case of his or her inability, another arbitrator) is obliged to confirm the res judicata effect and the enforceability of the award (section 623 ZPO).


On what grounds can an award be appealed to the court?

An appeal to a court against an arbitral award (including arbitral awards by which the arbitral tribunal has ruled on its own jurisdiction) may only be made in the form of an action for setting aside pursuant to section 628 ZPO. Such action has to be brought to the OG within four weeks. The time period begins on the day on which the claimant receives the award.

For actions for setting aside arbitral awards, the OG has jurisdiction as first and last instance, notwithstanding the possibility of an extraordinary appeal to the StGH for alleged violation of constitutional rights.

The grounds for setting aside an arbitral award are:

  • a valid arbitration agreement does not exist, or the arbitral tribunal has denied its jurisdiction despite the existence of a valid arbitration agreement, or a party was incapable of concluding a valid arbitration agreement under the law governing its personal status;
  • a party was not given proper notice of the appointment of an arbitrator or of the arbitral proceedings or was for other reasons unable to present its case;
  • the award deals with a dispute not covered by the arbitration agreement, or contains decisions on matters beyond the scope of the arbitration agreement or the plea of the parties for legal protection; if the default concerns only a part of the award that can be separated, only that part of the award shall be set aside;
  • the constitution of the arbitral tribunal was not in accordance with a provision of section 594 et seq ZPO or with an admissible agreement of the parties;
  • the arbitral proceedings were conducted in a manner that conflicts with the fundamental values of the Liechtenstein legal system (ordre public);
  • the requirements according to which a court judgment can be appealed by an action for revision under section 498(1) numbers 1 to 5 ZPO have been met;
  • the subject matter of the dispute is not arbitrable under Liechtenstein law; and
  • the arbitral award conflicts with the fundamental values of the Liechtenstein legal system (ordre public).

What procedures exist for enforcement of foreign and domestic awards?

Since Liechtenstein adopted the New York Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards of 1958 (New York Convention), arbitral awards that have been obtained before arbitration panels and in proceedings in accordance with the New York Convention constitute executory titles and can be enforced in Liechtenstein without re-examination of the merits of the case.