National arbitration laws
What legislation applies to arbitration in your jurisdiction?
Parties involved in international commercial arbitration proceedings in the Greek territory can apply the Law on International Commercial Arbitration (2735/1999), which incorporates – with minor amendments – the UNCITRAL Model Law, which was in force at the time of Law 2735/1999’s adoption. Law 2735/1999 secures consistency with international arbitration standards and makes Greece an attractive arbitration forum for international arbitration disputes. In fact, the Greek legal regime on arbitration is dualistic. Domestic arbitrations or arbitrations of a non-commercial nature (ie, arbitrations to which Law 2735/1999 does not apply) are regulated by the Code of Civil Procedure (Articles 687 to 903). The Code of Civil Procedure may also apply directly or indirectly to international commercial arbitration if an issue is not specifically governed by Law 2735/1999 and vice versa.
Arbitration is considered to be ‘international’ if:
- the parties’ seats are in different countries when they enter into the arbitration agreement;
- the location of the arbitration or where the contractual obligations should be fulfilled is in a different country to that in which the parties have their registered seat; or
- the parties have expressly agreed that the arbitration agreement’s subject matter is connected to several countries.
There is no universally accepted definition as to the commercial aspect of an international commercial arbitration. As such, arbitration is mainly considered to be commercial when the dispute in question involves a transactional or economic matter.
Are there any mandatory laws?
There are mandatory rules which cannot be deviated from, including those which:
- set out the arbitrability of disputes; and
- provide that the implementation of public policy provisions cannot be excluded by virtue of an arbitration agreement.
The Code of Civil Procedure and Law 2735/1999 provide mandatory judicial prerequisites, mainly reflecting the principles of a fair trial, namely:
- the equal treatment of the parties;
- the opportunity for each party to present their case fully;
- the right of defence of each party; and
- due process.
For example, the resolution of employment disputes through arbitration or the application for interim measures are not permitted under the code.
New York Convention
Is your country a signatory to the New York Convention? If so, what is the date of entry into force?
Greece signed and ratified the New York Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards 1958 pursuant to Legislative Decree 4220/1961. The convention entered into force in Greece on 14 October 1962.
Are there any reservations to the general obligations of the convention?
Greece has made the following reservations under Article 1(3) of the New York Convention:
- The convention applies exclusively with respect to arbitral awards issued in another contracting state.
- The convention applies only to awards issued on disputes of commercial nature.
Treaties and conventions
What other treaties and conventions in relation to arbitration is your jurisdiction party to?
Greece has adopted:
•the Geneva Protocol on Arbitration Clauses 1923;
•the Geneva Convention on the Execution of Foreign Arbitral Awards 1927; and
•the Convention on the Settlement of Investment Disputes between States and Nationals of Other States 1966;
Further, Greece ratified the Energy Charter Treaty 1994 through Law 2476/1997 (in force since 4 September 1997) and is listed in Annex ID, referred to in Article 26(3)(b)(i) of the treaty. Greece has also been a member of the World Bank’s Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency Convention since 30 August 1993 and signed several bilateral investment treaties.
Has your jurisdiction adopted the UNCITRAL Model Law?
Yes – by means of Law 2735/1999, with limited variations emanating from Greek statutory and case law. The UNCITRAL Model Law amendments of 2006 are not yet reflected in Law 2735/1999.
Are there any impending plans to reform the arbitration laws in your jurisdiction?
As far as is known, there is no impending plan that will change the arbitral legislative landscape.
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.
The written form of an arbitration agreement is the only formality expressly required by Greek law.
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 incorporating the UNCITRAL Model Law fully recognise arbitration agreements as a means of resolving disputes. Greek Law ensures the strict enforcement of arbitration agreements.
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 proceedings 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 adopt a wide view on the interpretation of the scope of application of arbitration clauses. They will 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.
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. In the absence of a specific substantive law being chosen by the parties 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.
Are there any provisions on the separability of arbitration agreements?
The separability or autonomy of an arbitration agreement is the principle that the arbitration clause survives the termination, voidance or invalidity of the main contract. Under Greek law, the separability doctrine stands.
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. In practice, this means that an arbitral tribunal can uphold jurisdiction over a dispute, even if it finds that the contract containing the arbitration clause is invalid.
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.
Criteria for arbitrators
Are there any restrictions?
Without prejudice to mandatory national rules, parties are, in principle, free to select arbitrators in both international commercial and domestic arbitrations. In the former, the arbitrators’ selection procedure is set out in Law 2735/1999, which basically reflects the United Nations Commission on International Trade Model Law. In domestic arbitration, Article 871A of the Code of Civil Procedure designates a specific procedure for the selection and appointment of judges as arbitrators.
There are no legal restrictions as to who may act as an arbitrator, apart from the general requirements that any such person must have the capacity to enter into a contract and not to have been deprived of their civic rights following a criminal conviction. Judges may assume the role of an arbitrator, but active ones may be appointed only on the basis of a rotation system applied in each court and are subject to fees restrictions
Parties can freely agree on the qualifications of arbitrators, restrict the eligibility criteria and enjoy autonomy in selecting arbitrators, as long as both parties have the right to select the same number of arbitrators. Provisions stipulating that one party can select more arbitrators than the other or that one party is precluded from selecting an arbitrator are invalid.
Before the appointment of an arbitrator, they must disclose all facts and circumstances that would trigger reasonable doubts as to their impartiality or independence. The arbitrator bears the aforementioned obligation from the time of their appointment until the completion of the arbitral proceedings.
In the event that the parties wish to appoint judges as members of the arbitral tribunal, the Code of Civil Procedure provides a specific procedure for their selection and appointment.
What can be stipulated about the tribunal in the agreement?
Provided that the impartiality and independence of the tribunal is fulfilled, the parties are free to agree on:
- the procedure for the appointment of arbitrators;
- the number of arbitrators and their nationalities;
- the procedure for challenging or removing an arbitrator; and
- any other issue falling within the scope of their freedom to choose (eg, the denomination of individual arbitrators in the actual arbitration agreement before proceedings are initiated).
Are there any default legal requirements as to the selection of a tribunal - for example, concerning the number of arbitrators or their characteristics?
According to Law 2735/1999, which incorporates the UN Commission on International Trade Model Law, an arbitral tribunal will comprise three arbitrators, unless the parties have decided otherwise. Each party must appoint one arbitrator and the two party-appointed arbitrators will appoint the third arbitrator.
Under the Code of Civil Procedure, the arbitrators must have full contractual capacity and must not be deprived of their civil rights. The code establishes certain requirements for when a member of the Greek judiciary is appointed as an arbitrator – namely, that such person:
- can be appointed as sole arbitrator or chair of the arbitration tribunal; and
- must have completed at least five years’ service.
Challenging the appointment of an arbitrator
Can the appointment of an arbitrator be challenged? Can an arbitrator be disqualified? What is the procedure for this?
In international commercial arbitration, an arbitrator can be challenged:
- in circumstances that give rise to justifiable doubts as to their impartiality or independence; or
- when they fail to meet the requirements agreed on by the parties to the arbitration agreement.
An arbitrator can be challenged by the party who appointed them or participated in their appointment only for reasons that came to the party’s attention after the arbitrator’s appointment.
The parties can agree in their contract on the process for the challenge and removal of arbitrators. If there is no such agreement, either party can file its request for the removal of an arbitrator to the arbitral tribunal within 15 days from the date on which the party was notified of the arbitral tribunal’s constitution or any fact giving rise to the request for removal. If the arbitrator refuses to resign or the other party does not agree to such removal, the tribunal will decide on the request for removal within 30 days from receipt of the request. If the tribunal rejects the request for removal or fails to reach a decision within 30 days, the party that filed the request for removal can file the same request with the single-member first-instance court. The court’s decision will be final and non-appealable (Articles 6, 12 and 13 of Law 2735/1999). An arbitrator who cannot perform their duties due to physical or legal incapacity or who otherwise fails to fulfil their functions within a reasonable period will be disqualified on agreement by the parties or the decision of the single-member first-instance court (Article 14 of Law 2735/1999).
In domestic arbitration, arbitrators can be challenged in accordance with the specific Code of Civil Procedure provisions.
How should an objection to jurisdiction be raised?
In international commercial arbitration, the competence-competence principle aims to allow arbitrators to examine and decide on any objection to their jurisdiction in the first instance, irrespective of the contents of the arbitration agreement. The arbitral tribunal can rule on an objection to its jurisdiction in a preliminary or the final award. The parties cannot validly restrict or eliminate such power of the arbitral tribunal. Prior to the commencement of the arbitration (ie, before a party receives the other party’s request for arbitration), a party can request that the court issues a declaratory judgment on the existence and validity of the arbitration agreement. To hear the case, a Greek court must have international jurisdiction over the matter and the litigants. Following the filing of a case resulting in the commencement of arbitration, no challenges to the arbitral tribunal’s jurisdiction before a court are allowed. The parties can challenge the arbitral tribunal’s jurisdiction in court only after the arbitral award has been rendered.
In domestic arbitration and international disputes of a non-commercial nature, the tribunal can rule on its own jurisdiction, unless the parties to the arbitration agreement have agreed otherwise.
Replacement of an arbitrator
Why and how can an arbitrator be replaced?
According to the Code of Civil Procedure and Law 2735/1999, an arbitrator can be replaced in the case of:
- their resignation;
- an agreement by the parties;
- a decision of the arbitral tribunal regarding a request for their removal (eg, due to conflict of interest or a lack of impartiality or independence); or
- a decision of the single-member first-instance court for reasons detailed above.
Under Law 2735/1999, the new arbitrator will be appointed by the party which appointed the arbitrator being replaced, in accordance with the applicable rules for the appointment of arbitrators. Failing that, the single-member first-instance court will intervene in the selection of a substitute arbitrator.
Powers and obligations
What powers and obligations do arbitrators have?
Arbitrators have the power to decide on their jurisdiction and, subject to the arbitration agreement and mandatory law provisions, to determine the applicable law and rules of the arbitration proceedings by setting the terms of reference. Arbitrators can conduct hearings, examine witnesses and appoint experts. They also have the power to grant interim measures under Law 2735/1999, which is not an option under the Code of Civil Procedure.
In accordance with the principles of equal treatment of parties and due process, arbitrators must be impartial.
Liability of arbitrators
Are arbitrators immune from liability?
No – Article 881 of the Code of Civil Procedure provides that arbitrators are liable only for wilful misconduct or gross negligence in the exercise of their duties. Arbitrators must:
- perform their duties in good faith;
- display due diligence; and
- render the award in compliance with the formal requirements provided by Law 2735/1999 and the purpose of receptum arbitri (ie, commitment to make a decision in a dispute).
If the arbitrators violate any of their contractual obligations, intentionally breach any of their duties or commit a tort, they will be liable for damages towards the litigant parties.
Communicating with the tribunal
How do the parties communicate with the tribunal?
Parties are free to agree on the arbitral proceedings, including communication with the tribunal. If no agreement is concluded between the parties, the tribunal will determine the appropriate process. The established practice is for parties to communicate with the tribunal in writing.
Is unanimous agreement of the tribunal required? If there is disagreement, does the will of the majority suffice? What are the implications of this?
If there is more than one arbitrator, they must decide by majority vote (unless the parties have agreed otherwise). If the arbitral tribunal is evenly split, the chair’s vote will be considered decisive. The parties can agree that the arbitration award be issued on a unanimous decision.
Are there any disputes incapable of being referred to arbitration?
With respect to domestic arbitration, Greek law provides in principle that any private law dispute, the subject matter of which can be freely disposed of by the parties, is arbitrable (Article 867 of the Code of Civil Procedure).
Consequently, any type of dispute failing to fulfil these prerequisites is not arbitrable.
Non arbitrable disputes include those:
- relating to the personal status of individuals (eg, marital disputes and disputes between parents and children);
- that fall under the exclusive jurisdiction of other adjudication bodies (eg, cases concerning the violation of competition rules will be heard by the Competition Commission); and
- that arise:
- between employers and employees;
- from collective bargaining agreements;
- between professionals and small and medium-sized industries or between these entities and their clients regarding work performed or goods manufactured; and
- between social security institutions and the insured, unless such disputes are of a commercial nature (to be determined on a case-by-case basis).
Disputes concerning intellectual property, antitrust, competition, securities and intracompany issues to the extent that they relate to matters that cannot be freely disposed of by the parties (eg, registering a trademark or patent) are not arbitrable, but are in other respects (eg, claims for compensation).
There are also special statutory provisions, especially in investment incentive laws, that allow matters which cannot otherwise be freely disposed of by the parties to be submitted to arbitration (eg, tax disputes between the state and the investor).
Under Law 2735/1999, the above rule also applies to international commercial arbitration.
Can the arbitrability of a dispute be challenged?
A dispute’s arbitrability can be challenged and the arbitral tribunal is competent to rule ipso jure (ie, by the operation of law) on this matter in a preliminary or final award.
Jurisdiction and 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?
A tribunal’s jurisdiction to rule on its own jurisdiction (competence-competence) is expressly recognised in both domestic and international arbitration. A tribunal award ruling against its own jurisdiction cannot be set aside and is binding for the state courts. This is not the case in the opposite occasion where the award is ruling in favour of the tribunal’s own jurisdiction (ie, is not binding for the state courts); a court ruling to the contrary will prevail.
The jurisdiction and competence of an arbitral tribunal can be challenged before the courts where:
- a claim is brought by a party invoking the existence of an arbitration agreement excluding the competence of the court in favour of an arbitral tribunal; or
- a party to the arbitral proceedings submits an application to the court to set aside the arbitral award or declare it null and void due to the arbitral tribunal’s lack of jurisdiction or competence.
Starting an arbitration proceeding
What is needed to commence arbitration?
Pursuant to Law 2735/1999, arbitral proceedings commence on the date of receipt of the request for by the respondent, unless otherwise agreed by the parties. If the request for arbitration also states the remedy sought and facts supporting the claims, the respondent should submit its defence within 30 days of receipt of the request for arbitration.
The Code of Civil Procedure provides no mechanism as to the commencement of the arbitral proceedings. However, it is common practice for the claimant to notify the respondent of its request for arbitration, stating the name and details of its appointed arbitrator. If any of the parties is a legal entity, a specific authorisation by means of a board resolution is required before entering into the arbitration agreement. Lack of such authorisation will render an arbitration agreement invalid.
Should the parties refer the dispute to institutional arbitration, the commencement of arbitral proceedings will be determined on the basis of the rules that the relevant institution applies to the arbitral proceedings.
Are there any limitation periods for the commencement of arbitration?
The right to arbitrate per se is not subject to limitation under the Code of Civil Procedure or Law 2735/1999.
A party’s right to resort to arbitration and the period within which such recourse should be made are determined by the substantive law of the case. Where Greek law applies, typical statutory limitation periods apply – namely:
- five years for claims arising from commercial relations;
- twenty years for claims arising from contracts; and
- five years for tort claims.
However, Greek law stipulates various exceptions from the above rules.
- The filing of a request for arbitration interrupts the substantive limitation period.
Are there any procedural rules that arbitrators must follow?
Law 2735/1999 provides that parties can agree on the rules of procedure to be followed by the arbitral tribunal while conducting the proceedings. If the parties have not reached such an agreement, the arbitral tribunal will determine:
- the rules and steps of the procedure;
- the place and language of the arbitration;
- whether there will be oral hearings or arbitral proceedings conducted on the basis of documents; and
- the appointment of expert witnesses.
In any event, the parties should be treated equally and given the opportunity to present their case fully.
The Code of Civil Procedure provides that the parties should:
- have equal rights and obligations;
- receive equal treatment; and
- be properly invited to present their arguments and defence before the tribunal.
Are dissenting opinions permitted under the law of your jurisdiction?
Both domestic and international arbitrations do not require a unanimous vote with respect to decisions. The latter are made by a majority of all members of the arbitration panel. Lacking a majority, the presiding arbitrator has the casting vote, unless otherwise agreed by the parties. Dissenting opinions are implicitly permitted in both domestic and international commercial arbitration.
Can local courts intervene in proceedings?
Local courts can intervene in arbitral proceedings on a party’s or the arbitral tribunal’s request. More specifically, under the Code of Civil Procedure and Law 2735/1999, the single-member first-instance court can be called on to rule or assist in the appointment, challenge and replacement of arbitrators for the purposes of hearing evidence and granting interim measures. Parties can also resort to the courts for preliminary relief in respect of the subject matter of the dispute, before or after the arbitration’s commencement.
Can the local courts assist in choosing arbitrators?
According to the Code of Civil Procedure and Law 2735/1999, the single-member first-instance court will assist parties in choosing the members of the arbitral tribunal following a request by the parties.
What is the applicable law (and prevailing practice) where a respondent fails to participate in an arbitration? Can the courts compel parties to arbitrate? Can they issue subpoenas to third parties?
If a party is called to participate and fails to do so, the arbitration will take place in the party’s absence.
If one party refuses to participate in the arbitral proceedings, the other party can file an application before the first-instance court requesting that it take the necessary measures, unless the arbitration agreement provides otherwise.
The Code of Civil Procedure warrants the advancement of arbitration proceedings in cases where defendants are unwilling to participate. The claimant can request that the single-member first-instance court take the necessary measures to secure the appointment of the arbitrators and commence arbitration.
The Greek courts have no jurisdiction to hear a dispute that is subject to a valid arbitration agreement. If proceedings are initiated by a party before a court in breach of an arbitration agreement, the court will refer the case to arbitration only if the other party raises an objection to the court’s jurisdiction by invoking the arbitration agreement at the first court hearing.
The Greek courts can order measures, but only against the parties to an arbitration agreement. Subpoenas to third parties can be issued only under specific circumstances.
In what instances can third parties be bound by an arbitration agreement or award?
The arbitral tribunal cannot assume jurisdiction over third parties which are not parties to the arbitration agreement unless they have been joined to the arbitration proceedings, as arbitration is primarily a contractual method for the settlement of disputes and, in principle, only signatories or parties which have been bound by a written consent are bound by an arbitration agreement.
Nevertheless, the sole category of third parties to be bound includes those bound by the res judicata of a court decision.
Instances where third parties are bound by an arbitration agreement include:
- succession of a natural person;
- merger of a company;
- assumption of debt;
- guarantee; and
- subrogation of an insurer.
The question of whether a third party should be bound by an arbitration agreement should strictly be examined from both sides: can the party be sued and can the same party resort to arbitration?
Default language and seat
Unless agreed by the parties, what is the default language and location for arbitrations?
Unless otherwise agreed by the parties, arbitrators will choose the default language and location for arbitrations. According to Law 2735/1999, the seat of arbitration must be in Greece.
How is evidence obtained by the tribunal?
Unless the parties to an arbitration agreement have agreed otherwise, the arbitral tribunal will establish the rules for the collection and submission of evidence at the pleading stage and at the hearing in arbitral proceedings in Greece.
The International Bar Association (IBA) Rules on the Taking of Evidence in International Arbitration can be used as a guidance mechanism for arbitrators. Further, the arbitral tribunal can request the assistance of local courts in the gathering of evidence. The court can satisfy the request within its jurisdiction and according to the Code of Civil Procedure’s rules of evidence. The court in its capacity as arbitrator or the magistrates’ court, following a request by the arbitrators, can order compulsory measures for the collection of evidence.
What kinds of evidence are acceptable?
In domestic arbitration, the burden and standard of proof are determined by the type of evidentiary procedure to be followed by the tribunal. With respect to witnesses and experts, the civil law tradition is followed – that is, parties cannot testify as witnesses and experts are appointed by the tribunal. The means of evidence provided in the Code of Civil Procedure are also available in arbitration (ie, confession, inspection, expert reports, witness testimony, examination of parties, party oath, documentary evidence and presumptions). Summary or injunction proceedings are usually preferred, which is generally indulgent in the admissibility of evidence.
In international arbitration, the default rules provide that the tribunal will determine the admissibility, relevance, materiality and weight of any evidence. Further, experts are appointed by the tribunal.
Is confidentiality ensured?
Greek law is silent on the issue of confidentiality as neither the Code of Civil Procedure nor Law 2735/1999 expressly provides therefor. However, the private nature of arbitration tends to favour both confidentiality and the secrecy of hearings, submissions, notes, evidence and awards, which, in principle, are not accessible to third parties. If the parties wish to secure confidentiality, it is advisable to include a confidentiality clause in the arbitration agreement.
If an arbitral award is to be enforced in Greece, the sole arbitrator or the arbitrator designated by a multi-member tribunal must file an original copy of the award with the secretariat of the single-member first-instance court of the place of arbitration unless the parties have agreed otherwise. This filed award is not publicly available.
In any event, the data protection law applies. Any person or entity without a lawful interest cannot request a copy of the award by the single-member first-instance court – even after the award’s publication.
Can information in arbitral proceedings be disclosed in subsequent proceedings?
Arbitral proceedings in Greece are not publicly accessible, unless the parties have agreed otherwise. Consequently, no information regarding arbitral proceedings can be disclosed in subsequent proceedings without the parties’ consent. Arbitral proceedings in Greece are not publicly accessible, unless the parties have agreed otherwise. Consequently, no information regarding arbitral 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?
Although the law provides an ethical code for mediators in Greece, this is not the case for arbitrators. In permanent arbitrations administered and conducted on an institutional basis in Greece, individual codes of conduct regarding the behaviour of arbitrators will be implemented. The Lawyers’ Code of Ethics applies to counsel and arbitrators who are licensed as attorneys at law in Greece. In case of arbitrators who are not attorneys at law, the relevant professional standards apply.
The IBA Rules of Ethics for International Arbitrators, though not binding, can serve as guidance regarding the appropriate behaviour of an arbitrator.
Estimation & allocation
How are the costs of arbitration proceedings estimated and allocated?
All costs relating to the proceedings (eg, arbitrator fees, legal fees, expert fees, administrative fees – in cases of an institution – and travel expenses) can be awarded.
According to Law 2735/1999, which incorporates the UN Commission on International Trade Model Law, unless the parties have agreed otherwise, the tribunal will decide on the allocation of costs, taking into account the circumstances of the case and – in particular – the outcome of the proceedings. In general, arbitral tribunals have discretion to fix the costs of the arbitration, allocate them among the parties and award interest to the winning party.
In domestic arbitration, arbitrators’ fees are estimated as a percentage of the value of the dispute. The arbitral tribunal has discretion to allocate the arbitration costs. If one party does not agree with the allocation of costs, it can challenge it before the single-member first-instance court within three months following the filing of an arbitration award.
Security for costs
Can the national court or tribunal order security for costs under the law in your jurisdiction?
While national courts generally have the power to order security for costs in ordinary proceedings ex officio, there is no provision permitting them to do so in arbitration proceedings.
There is also no such provision in international commercial arbitration. Therefore, only arbitrators have the power to order security for costs.
In domestic arbitration, the claimant must pay half of the arbitrators’ fees in advance. The exact pre-payment fee will be determined by the arbitral tribunal.
What legal requirements are there for recognition of an award? Must reasons be given for the award? Does the award need to be reviewed by any other body?
According to the Code of Civil Procedure and Law 2735/1999, which incorporates the UN Commission on International Trade Model Law, an award must be in writing and signed by all arbitrators. When the arbitral tribunal has more than one arbitrator, the signatures of the majority of the tribunal are sufficient, provided that the award states the reason for the missing signatures. The award must state the place and date of the arbitration and will be deemed to have been made at that place. It must also include:
- the names of the arbitrators and parties;
- the arbitration agreement; and
- the arbitral tribunal’s decision.
The award must include reasoning, unless the parties agreed that this is unnecessary or the tribunal issues an award that records the settlement terms.
Arbitral awards are not subject to review, unless the parties have agreed otherwise.
Timeframe for delivery
Are there any time limits on delivery of the award?
An arbitral award should be rendered according to the time specified within the arbitration agreement, in the absence of which it should be completed within a reasonable period.
According to the Code of Civil Procedure, if there is a delay in the issuance of the award, either party can file a request to the single-member first-instance court to issue a decision imposing a reasonable deadline on the arbitral tribunal to deliver the award. This decision is not subject to appeal.
Does the law impose limits on the available remedies? Are some remedies not enforceable by the court?
There are no restrictions on the remedies to be awarded by an arbitral tribunal. The remedies that can be sought are similar to those pursued before a Greek court (eg, damages, specific performance and performance in kind).
What interim measures are available? Will local courts issue interim measures pending constitution of the tribunal?
Interim measures include:
- the granting of a guarantee;
- the conservatory attachment of assets; and
- any other type of appropriate injunction or application for the production of certain documents.
In international commercial arbitration, state courts and arbitral tribunals have concurrent jurisdiction to order interim measures. Unless the parties have agreed otherwise, the tribunal can, on the request of either party, order the interim measures that it deems necessary in connection with the subject matter of the arbitration. Such interim measures are enforced by state courts.
In domestic arbitration, arbitrators cannot order interim measures or modify or revoke provisional remedies granted by the courts. Only state courts can order such measures.
Can interest be awarded?
Interest is a matter of substantive law and will be granted in an award.
At what rate?
An award regarding interest should be cognisant of the interest rate limitations imposed by the substantive law chosen by the parties or, if there is no agreement by the parties, the tribunal.
Is the award final and binding?
Arbitral awards are final and binding and cannot be appealed against (ie, they cannot be challenged on the merits). In domestic arbitration, the award becomes final and binding on its filing with the secretariat of the single-member first-instance court, unless the parties have agreed otherwise.
What if there are any mistakes?
The correction of any written mistakes is permissible without altering the operative part of the award. In international commercial arbitration, the interested party must file the request within 30 days of notification of the award.
Can the parties exclude by agreement any right of appeal or other recourse that the law of your jurisdiction may provide?
Before the issuance of an arbitral award, the parties cannot validly waive their right to file a claim for the setting aside of an arbitral award in court. Such waiver is void because it is a matter of public policy for arbitral awards to be subject to judicial review. A waiver of the right to challenge an arbitral award is valid when given after the issuance of the award, provided that the required corporate authorisations have been adopted in relation to legal entities waiving such right.
On what grounds can parties appeal an award?
In the case of annulment of an arbitration award, the parties can file for recourse against the award on the basis of flaws emanating from the arbitration agreement or procedural flaws in the arbitral proceedings or award. The court will set aside an arbitral award if the party challenging the award proves that:
- a party to the arbitration agreement lacked the legal capacity to enter into such an agreement validly, pursuant to the substantive law; or
- the arbitration agreement is invalid pursuant to the substantive law.
Further, the award can be set aside if it is proven that:
- a party was not duly notified of an arbitrator’s appointment or the arbitral proceedings;
- a party was otherwise unable, without being at fault, to present its case;
- the award deals with a dispute that was not contemplated by or falls outside the arbitration agreement’s terms; or
- the tribunal’s composition or the arbitral process breached the rules of arbitration, the parties’ agreement or Law 2735/1999.
When reviewing an application for setting aside an arbitral award, the court will also examine whether:
- the dispute’s subject matter is arbitrable; and
- the arbitral award conflicts with public policy or is contra bonos mores (ie, against good morals).
The annulment of an arbitral award differs from its declaration as inexistent (please see question 6.7.5).
What is the procedure for challenging awards?
The annulment of an arbitration award is permitted in exceptional circumstances. A petition seeking to set aside an award must be filed with the court of appeal of the place of arbitration within three months from the date on which the arbitral award was received by the party filing the claim.
An arbitral award is not subject to appeal. However, in domestic arbitration cases the parties can foresee in the arbitration agreement their right to challenge the arbitral award before a different arbitral tribunal, provided that they determine the conditions, time limits and procedure applicable to the submission and examination of such a challenge.
What steps can be taken to enforce the award if there is a failure to comply?
An award will be considered final, binding and enforceable and will give rise to res judicata on its filing in the single-member first-instance court (as per the Code of Civil Procedure) and publication (as per Law 2735/1999). Enforcement of the award in case of failure to comply will be conducted on the basis of the code’s specific provisions that provide for compulsory enforcement.
Can awards be enforced in local courts?
An arbitral award issued in Greece gives rise to res judicata and is enforceable in Greece as of the date of the award. Res judicata is determined in accordance with the provisions of the Code of Civil Procedure and concerns the merits of the dispute and the procedural issues that were finally adjudicated by the arbitral tribunal. Res judicata extends over the parties to the dispute and their successors. The only formality that must be observed for the enforcement of an arbitral award is the filing of the award with the secretariat of the single-member first-instance court in the place where the arbitration was held.
How enforceable is the award internationally?
An arbitral award issued in Greece can be enforced internationally, in accordance with the New York Convention 1958. Greece will apply the convention only to the enforcement of:
- awards made in the territory of another contracting state; and
- disputes arising out of legal relationships that are considered commercial under Greek law.
To what extent might a state or state entity successfully raise a defence of state or sovereign immunity at the enforcement stage?
A common issue for commercial parties seeking to arbitrate disputes with states and state-controlled entities is that these state parties often attempt to raise the defence of sovereign immunity to challenge the jurisdiction of the arbitral tribunal and avoid the enforcement of an arbitral award.
The principle of sovereign immunity raised as a defence of state at the enforcement stage is determined by the Greek courts in an ad hoc procedure.
According to the Code of Civil procedure, an arbitral award against a foreign state can be enforced in Greece only once the minister of justice has authorised such enforcement.
Are there any other bases on which an award may be challenged, and if so, by what?
An arbitral award can be challenged by the parties only on the grounds concerning a claim to set aside an award.
Following the filing of a suit with a court of appeal, an arbitral award can be declared inexistent if:
- no arbitration agreement has been concluded;
- the award was rendered in relation to a non-arbitrable dispute; and
- the award was rendered in the context of arbitration proceedings initiated against a non-existent person or legal entity.
How enforceable are foreign arbitral awards in your jurisdiction?
Foreign arbitral awards issued in other countries that are signatories of the New York Convention are recognised and enforced in Greece in accordance with Decree-Law 4220/1961, through the enactment of which the New York Convention was ratified by Greece, subject to the rules and procedures of the Code of Civil Procedure. The enforcement of foreign arbitral awards must be sought before the single-member first-instance court of the district where the debtor’s domicile is located. Where no party is domiciled in Greece, the Single-Member Court of Athens is competent to exercise jurisdiction.
The party opposing the recognition and enforcement of a foreign arbitral award must prove that:
- the arbitration agreement is invalid under the law chosen by the parties or the law of the state in which the arbitration was held;
- the arbitral award-adjudicated dispute falls outside or transcends the arbitration agreement;
- the party against which the enforcement of the awards is being sought was not duly notified of the appointment of arbitrators or the arbitration, and it was thus impossible for that party to participate in the arbitral proceedings, prepare its defence and produce evidence;
- the arbitral proceedings or the formation of the arbitral tribunal conflict with the arbitration agreement or, absent such an agreement, the law of the place of the arbitration; or
- the arbitral award is not yet binding on the parties or has been set aside or suspended by an authority having jurisdiction in the country under the law of which the award was issued.
A court can also reject a request for the recognition and enforcement of a foreign arbitral award if it determines that the subject matter of the dispute is not arbitrable, or that the recognition and enforcement of the arbitral award would clash with public policy. The court will examine these two factors regardless of whether they are raised.
The recognition and enforcement procedure does not involve a review of the merits of the dispute by the court.
Foreign arbitral awards issued in countries that are not signatories of the New York Convention will be recognised and enforced in Greece without a review of the merits of the dispute if the Greek court determines that:
- the arbitration agreement is valid under the applicable law;
- the subject matter of the dispute is subject to arbitration under Greek law;
- the arbitral award is not subject to appeal or other means of redress or there is no pending request to set aside the award;
- the party that lost in arbitration was not deprived of its right to defend itself during the arbitral proceedings;
- the arbitral award is not contrary to a Greek court decision issued in the same case or does not give rise to res judicata; and
- the arbitral award does not contravene Greek public policy or bonos mores (ie, good morals).
Will an award that has been set aside by the courts in the seat of arbitration be enforced in your jurisdiction?
An arbitral award that has been set aside by the competent courts in the seat of arbitration cannot be enforced in Greece.
Rules and restrictions
Are there rules or restrictions on third-party funders?
The notion of third-party funding is unpopular, but some insurers offer legal expenses protection that covers the cost of litigation. At present, there are no rules or restrictions on the funders.
Class-action or group arbitration
Is there a concept in your jurisdiction providing for class-action arbitration or group arbitration? If so, are there any limitations to the arbitrability of such claims or requirements that must be met before such claims may be arbitrated?
Class actions are uncommon in Greece, but there are no restrictions regarding the arbitrability of such claims.
Are there any hot topics or trends emerging in arbitration in your jurisdiction?
With regard to domestic practice, the number of domestic arbitrations in Greece has been steadily rising in recent years, which demonstrates sophisticated commercial parties’ preference for the resolution of disputes by alternative adjudicating bodies, rather than the courts. It is in this context that new entities are being founded in Greece in order to provide mediation and arbitration services. The enactment of Law 4512/2018 (incorporating EU Directive 2008/52/EC on certain aspects of mediation in civil and commercial matters), which provides for mandatory mediation in civil and commercial matters, aimed to relieve the courts from the overwhelming majority of cases. However, instead of stimulating the trend of alternative methods being chosen over traditional litigation and promoting the existing pro-arbitration culture, the introduction of an obligation to choose alternative dispute resolution generated such heated debate among local practitioners that the legislative initiative’s implementation was suspended until 16 September 2019. However, Greek practice shows that some corporate parties are not discouraged by the developments and are still opting for mediation.
Moreover, Greece accepts binding international arbitration of investment disputes between foreign investors and the Greek government, and foreign firms have generally found satisfaction through arbitration. In addition, there is an obvious move by the Greek state towards alternative dispute resolution procedures, reflecting an environment where investors could avoid the traditional court route.
An additional trend noted in Europe during 2018 was the increasing use of third-party funding by large and well-funded corporates. In previous years, small or medium-sized companies mainly used third-party funding services in order to initiate proceedings. Third-party funding has become a feature of the litigation and arbitration landscape in several jurisdictions and although there is no known or recorded precedent of an arbitration funded by a third party in Greece, the trend in Europe could potentially have an impact in Greece as well. As legislation in Greece remains silent on the legality of third-party funding, it will be interesting to see whether the courts will strike down or uphold a particular funding agreement.
Further, a global trend appears to be the introduction of measures specifically designed to promote the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of arbitral references, including:
- provisions enabling tribunals to convene a meeting at any time to discuss the procedures that will be the most efficient and appropriate for the case; and
- guidance rules on the expeditious determination of manifestly unmeritorious claims or defences.
Finally, we note a recent case specific development involving the implementation of the bilateral investment treaty signed by Greece and Serbia is the Mytilineos Holdings SA v Republic of Serbia case, where the tribunal awarded Mytilineos compensation and determined that Serbia:
- indirectly expropriated Mytilineos’s investment without compensation; and
- frustrated Mytilineos’s legitimate and reasonable expectations as an investor to be afforded fair and equitable treatment by the Serbian state.
Investment arbitration cases resolved through the application of bilateral investment treaties signed by Greece are uncommon. The dispute was subject to the UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules and concerned an investment in state-owned copper giant RTB BOR. The award is of particular interest due to the uniqueness and complexity of the factual matrix, as well as the difficulty that exists when a private company has recourse to arbitral tribunals against a sovereign state (particularly a European state). The final settlement of the compensation that derived from the International Arbitral Tribunal’s award was signed on 6 February 2018 by the Mytilineos representative and the Serbian government.