In 2019 the Ministry of Finance issued guidelines on procedures for the effective application of rules on the freezing of financial assets of sanctioned persons in Slovakia. The guidelines answer some practical questions but leave many questions open. One such question concerns enforcement of arbitral awards affected by sanctions – in particular, under what conditions can an award creditor enforce such an award in Slovakia?
A recent Banska Bystrica Regional Court decision is one of many which give a positive outlook for arbitration in Slovakia and can be equated with court decisions in arbitration-friendly jurisdictions. A limited review of arbitral awards, with a focus on the procedural aspects of arbitration proceedings, reflects the aim of the Arbitration Act amendment of 2015; however, other court decisions have interpreted arbitration clauses more restrictively.
Section 17 of the Arbitration Act requires the equal treatment of parties in arbitration proceedings. Over the past year, the extent of this procedural safeguard has been tested before numerous Slovak courts, including the Supreme Court, the Bratislava Regional Court and the Banska Bystrica Regional Court. Notably, the courts seem to have avoided an extensive interpretation of Section 17 when reviewing awards.
In 2018 the Slovak courts addressed a number of issues while upholding arbitral awards, suggesting that the jurisdiction is becoming more arbitration friendly. This article explores two of these issues – namely, whether courts should review the application of substantive law and facts established by tribunals and the use of public policy as grounds for setting aside an award.
One of the main reasons for choosing arbitration as a method of dispute resolution has always been the finality of arbitral awards. However, in Slovakia, the finality of arbitral awards has often been called into question – even the Constitutional Court has assumed jurisdiction to review arbitral awards. While the country has come a long way in bringing the review of arbitral awards into line with international standards, there is still one stage where reviews of arbitral awards are somewhat unpredictable: enforcement.
The Anti-monopoly Office recently found that by informing an external lawyer, Tesco had violated its obligation to cooperate. For this and other violations in this regard, the Anti-monopoly Office fined Tesco approximately €1.6 million. Tesco appealed. Although the appeal decision set boundaries on the Anti-monopoly Office's use of this practice, it confirms that the practice is not in contradiction of the law – especially the right to defence.
The Supreme Court recently held that a dawn raid carried out by the Competition Authority was unlawful. The court held that the authorisation to carry out the raid lacked justification and proportionality and that the scope of the raid was excessive, causing the whole raid to be unlawful. As a result the court ordered the Competition Authority – for the first time – to destroy all data obtained during the raid.
Anti-monopoly Office inspectors have recently been criticised for allowing undertakings subject to a dawn raid to call their attorneys to come to the premises in order to provide legal aid during the inspection, but expressly prohibiting them from informing their attorneys as to why they should come. This practice is arguably harmful to undertakings subject to dawn raids and breaches their basic rights – particularly the right of defence.
The Competition Authority recently presented plans for future reform to the public. According to the plans, the authority's main strategy for the near future focuses on building a modern authority with meaningful policies that will result in clear benefits to the consumer. The most significant measure by which the authority hopes to achieve these aims is a draft amendment to the Competition Act.
The Competition Authority recently adopted a new law amending the Slovakian merger regime. The new merger control regulation, in line with the EU Merger Regulation (139/2004), abandons the dominance test as the substantive test for merger clearance and adopts the substantive impediment of effective competition test. The amendment also revises the thresholds for merger review.
Merger control proceedings in Slovakia are time consuming. Even in straightforward concentrations, the parties must be prepared to face lengthy proceedings before the Competition Authority. As a result, the Slovak merger control rules constitute an inappropriate administrative burden for competitors. However, the Competition Authority is aware of the complications and is willing to amend the existing rules.
The Anti-monopoly Office of the Slovak Republic has imposed a fine of €48,373 on Natur-Pack and 14 waste collection companies for entering into an agreement that restricted competition. The Bratislava Regional Court has also rejected the action of funeral undertaking Marianum against the office's June 2008 decision. By this decision the office had imposed a fine of €237,668.46 on Marianum for abuse of its dominant position.
The Ministry of Justice recently published its proposal for an amendment to the Arbitration Act which aims to strengthen consumer protection. This update looks at some of the key changes envisaged by the amendment and the effect that they might have on arbitration proceedings.
Including: Legal Framework; Use of Commercial Arbitration; Principal Institutions; Arbitrability and Jurisdiction; Recognition and Enforcement; Challenging Awards; Outlook.
A recent amendment to the Slovak Civil Code has made it harder to arbitrate consumer disputes. Effective as of January 1 2008, the amendment makes all exclusive arbitration clauses within consumer contracts null and void. The amendment also appears to apply retroactively to all consumer contracts concluded before it came into force.
On May 1 2006 amendments to the Banking Act came into force imposing new information duties on banks. For example, a bank must now display on its website and in its branches intelligible information for the public regarding the terms and costs of any banking service.
A new law aims to strengthen the rights of creditors in bankruptcy proceedings involving financial institutions, including Slovak banks and branches of foreign banks. However, a bank may be declared bankrupt only by the relevant supervisory body or by a special administrator, and Slovak courts have no jurisdiction to declare bankruptcy in the case of a bank based in another EU member state.
A recent amendment to the Securities and Investment Services Act has created a select group of entities, including banks, which enjoy privileged status when a pledge over securities is created in their favour. In particular, enforcement of the pledge is more flexible.
Under the Banking Act, banks and branches of foreign banks can establish a Joint Banking Register that will facilitate the preparation, conclusion and performance of clients' trades, and evidence the activities of banks and branches of foreign banks. After the register is established, banks and branches of foreign banks will be authorized to exchange information on clients and their trades.
A 1998 government goal to attract foreign capital by stimulating investment has led to a rapid increase in investment flowing into various sectors of the Slovak economy. Slovakia has now become one of the most attractive countries for investment in Central and Eastern Europe.