Arbitration agreement


Are there any types of disputes that are not arbitrable?

In principle, any proprietary claim is arbitrable. Non-proprietary claims are still arbitrable if the law allows the dispute to be settled by the parties.

There are some exceptions in family law or cooperative apartment ownership.

Consumer and employment-related matters are only arbitrable if the parties enter into an arbitration agreement once the dispute has arisen.


What formal and other requirements exist for an arbitration agreement?

An arbitration agreement must:

  • sufficiently specify the parties (they must at least be determinable);
  • sufficiently specify the subject matter of the dispute in relation to a defined legal relationship (this must at least be determinable and it can be limited to certain disputes, or include all disputes);
  • sufficiently specify the parties’ intent to have the dispute decided by arbitration, thereby excluding the state courts’ competence; and
  • be contained in either a written document signed by the parties or in telefaxes, emails or other communication exchanged between the parties, which preserve evidence of a contract.


A clear reference to general terms and conditions containing an arbitration clause is sufficient.


In what circumstances is an arbitration agreement no longer enforceable?

Arbitration agreements and clauses can be challenged under the general principles of contract law, in particular, on the grounds of error, deceit or duress, or legal incapacity. There is controversy over whether such a challenge should be brought before the arbitral tribunal or before a court of law. If the parties to a contract containing an arbitration clause rescind their contract, the arbitration clause is deemed to be no longer enforceable, unless the parties have expressly agreed on the continuation of the arbitration clause. In the event of insolvency or death, the receiver or legal successor is, in general, bound by the arbitration agreement. An arbitration agreement is no longer enforceable if an arbitral tribunal has rendered an award on the merits of the case or if a court of law has rendered a final judgment on the merits and the decision covers all matters for which arbitration has been agreed on.


Are there any provisions on the separability of arbitration agreements from the main agreement?

According to the UNCITRAL Model Law, the separability of the arbitration agreement from the main agreement is valid as a rule of law. Under Austrian law, such separability is derived from the parties´ intentions.

Third parties – bound by arbitration agreement

In which instances can third parties or non-signatories be bound by an arbitration agreement?

As a general principle, only the parties to the arbitration agreement are bound by it. Courts are reluctant to bind third parties to the arbitration agreement. Thus, concepts such as piercing the corporate veil and groups of company typically do not apply.

However, a legal successor is bound by the arbitration agreement in which his or her predecessor has entered into. This also applies to the insolvency administrator and to the heir of a deceased person.

Third parties – participation

Does your domestic arbitration law make any provisions with respect to third-party participation in arbitration, such as joinder or third-party notice?

Normally, joinder of a third party to an arbitration requires the corresponding consent of the parties, which can be either express or implied (eg, by reference to arbitration rules that provide for joinder). Consent can be given either at the time the request for joinder is made or at an earlier stage in the contract itself. Under the law, the issue is largely discussed in the context of an intervention by a third party that has an interest in the arbitration. Here, it is argued that such a third-party intervener must be a party to the arbitration agreement or otherwise submit to the jurisdiction of the tribunal, and that all parties, including the intervener, must agree to the intervention.

The Supreme Court has held that the joining of a third party in arbitral proceedings against its will, or the extension of the binding effect of an arbitration award on a third party, would infringe article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights if the third party was not granted the same rights as the parties (eg, the right to be heard).

Groups of companies

Do courts and arbitral tribunals in your jurisdiction extend an arbitration agreement to non-signatory parent or subsidiary companies of a signatory company, provided that the non-signatory was somehow involved in the conclusion, performance or termination of the contract in dispute, under the ‘group of companies’ doctrine?

The group of companies doctrine is not recognised in Austrian law.

Multiparty arbitration agreements

What are the requirements for a valid multiparty arbitration agreement?

Multiparty arbitration agreements can be entered into under the same formal requirements as arbitration agreements.


Can an arbitral tribunal in your jurisdiction consolidate separate arbitral proceedings? In which circumstances?

Consolidation of arbitral proceedings is not expressly governed by Austrian law. In doctrine, however, it is argued that it is permissible, provided that the parties and the arbitrators consent.

Law stated date

Correct on:

Give the date on which the information above is accurate.

06 October 2020