Parliament recently passed a law regulating the procedure for the divestment of approximately 40% of Public Power Corporation's (PPC) lignite-fired production units and lignite exploitation rights. The aim of the law is to increase competition in the Greek electricity market. Currently, over 60% of the electricity produced in Greece is generated through the combustion of locally extracted lignite, while PPC accounts for 98% of all lignite production in the country.
The Greek energy sector is expected to expand over the next few years as a result of, among other things, the optimisation of the energy mix – which consists of a reduction in fossil fuel-generated electricity and an increase in energy from renewable energy sources (RES) – and the liberalisation of the electricity and natural gas markets. Greece is also expected to create energy investment opportunities due to the availability of RES potential in the country and ongoing substantial infrastructure projects.
The Supreme Court recently ruled that the provisions that require arbitrators' details to be included in the award also apply by analogy to tribunal secretaries. Following the judgment, arbitrators should always refer in detail to the particulars of the secretary employed in the arbitration (which is always a best practice) in order to avoid unnecessary complications that may lead to the setting aside of the award.
During 2017, a group of experts worked on the modelling and organisation of the Energy Exchange with the intention that it would be established and begin operating in the first half of 2018. As such, the Ministry of Energy and Environment recently presented, through a public consultation, the draft Energy Exchange Law, which would amend the Target Model Law and the Energy Law.
In 2016 Law 4389/2016 introduced the sale by auction of electricity forward products with physical delivery by the Greek vertically integrated Public Power Corporation (PPC) to eligible electricity suppliers. The purpose of these auctions is to reduce the PPC's retail market share in the interconnected system, enhance competition and provide better quality products and lower prices to consumers.
In international trade, a general reference is sufficient to validly incorporate an arbitration clause contained in another document under Article II(2) of the New York Convention, provided that the clause is common and known to those engaged in a particular trade. The Piraeus Single-Member First-Instance Court recently ruled on a dispute regarding the enforcement of an arbitral award in Greece under the New York Convention.
Two international tenders granting exploration and exploitation rights for the block areas of Southwest and West Crete, as well as the Ionian Sea, were recently published in the Official Gazette. This publication follows the expressions of interest by the consortium Total-ExxonMobil-Hellenic Petroleum for Southwest and West Crete and Energean Oil and Gas for the Ionian Sea. The expected announcement by the Official Journal of the European Union will also allow other interested stakeholders to submit offers.
Decision 51 of the Government Council for Economic Policy was recently published, approving the process for a new international tender for the acquisition of a 66% stake in the national natural gas transmission system operator. The new tender was launched by the Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund on June 26 2017 and will remain open to receive respective expressions of interest until August 7 2017.
Third-party funding is uncommon in Greece and, to date, there is no known or recorded precedent of an arbitration funded by a third party. Although Greece has no specific regulation for third-party funding, it does not prohibit third-party funding in arbitration either. As such, those intending to engage in third-party funding are strongly advised to address potential risks (especially issues of financial interests) in carefully drafted funding agreements and other matters in the arbitration agreement itself.
The Ministry of Environment and Energy recently launched a public consultation on the draft Law on Energy Communities. Given the large range of activities and numerous incentives that the draft law proposes for energy communities, these communities may become an important vehicle for developing business activities and increasing energy efficiency in local communities.
The First-Instance Court of Athens recently found an ophthalmologist liable for injury suffered by his patient when the latter lost vision from one eye following the intraocular administration of the medicine Avastin, which had no regulatory approval for intraocular use. This case is special because the off-label use of Avastin is based on financial considerations, a parameter which is not perceived as acceptable by medical or regulatory guidelines in most countries.
In a recent case, the Supreme Court held that the requirement that specific authorisation be obtained for the person acting as a legal representative for the valid conclusion of an arbitration agreement refers only to a person acting as a proxy or an agent of the legal entity and does not refer to an organ of the legal entity – the very function of which is to represent the entity, such as the board of directors or its substitute.
After several years of preparation and analysis of different solutions for the reform of the electricity wholesale market and its harmonisation with the European Union, a new law has been enacted to implement the agreement on fiscal goals and corrective reform. Before the law was enacted, studies of the Greek electricity market were carried out while the Regulatory Energy Agency conducted public consultations on the implementation of the target model.
The most contentious energy projects have centred on the extraction of lignite and hydrocarbons, the installation of renewable resource power plants and the development of the electricity grid. While the extraction of hydrocarbons has raised questions about the environmental effects of this activity and the consequences of oil extraction, these projects have significant support from local communities, since they promise sizeable increases in employment.
The Supreme Court recently ruled that a violation of the burden of proof rules did not constitute grounds to set aside an arbitral award. This ruling is consistent with the court's previous stance when deciding whether violations of the res judicata effect could form grounds to set aside an arbitral award. It is also in line with the legislature's clear intention to limit state court control in arbitration in order to enhance its effectiveness and finality.
The Athens First Instance Court recently heard a case involving a law firm which sought to be indemnified from its professional indemnity underwriter. The policy covered a lawyer's professional liability while providing services within Greece and under Greek law. The insured claimed that he was entitled to indemnity not because the policy provided such cover, but rather because, among other things, he had requested such cover and the insurer had failed to include it in the policy.
Unlike in most other EU countries, natural gas became part of the Greek market only recently following the launch of organised commercial import of natural gas at the end of 1996. Until then, gas was mainly used for electricity generation. Although the Greek supply and transmission of natural gas has not yet reached maturity, there have been significant attempts to liberalise the market in the past decade, particularly in the past couple of years.
Law 4414/2016, which reforms the renewable resources (RES) and co-generated heat and power (CHP) support scheme, was recently published in the Government Gazette. The law aims to bring the existing support mechanism for RES electricity and CHP into line with EU guidelines and address the insufficient funds in the RES account. Further, it aims to integrate RES electricity and CHP with the interconnected system and develop a sustainable investment environment for the future.
A recent Supreme Court decision held that an arbitration agreement may validly refer to future disputes; in such cases, the agreement must determine the definite legal relationship out of which such disputes will arise, but it is not necessary to refer to specific disputes. Further, the court held that an arbitration agreement does not extend its scope to disputes arising out of a subsequent agreement between the same parties, even if the subject matter concerns the initial agreement.
The Hellenic Association of Insurance Companies recently hosted the 18th Hydra Insurance and Reinsurance Meeting. At the meeting, insurers and reinsurers from 24 countries around the world discussed specific concerns and issues that directly affect the industry, including how technological advancements have affected motor and health insurance and may do so in the future and how the vast majority of the population is unprotected against financial losses from catastrophic risks.