by Alfonso López-Ibor, Pablo Henríquez de Luna and Virginia Jover, Ventura Garcés & López-Ibor Abogados
A Q&A guide to arbitration law and practice in Spain.
The country-specific Q&A guide provides a structured overview of the key practical issues concerning arbitration in this jurisdiction, including any mandatory provisions and default rules applicable under local law, confidentiality, local courts' willingness to assist arbitration, enforcement of awards and the available remedies, both final and interim.
To compare answers across multiple jurisdictions visit the Arbitration procedures and practice Country Q&A tool.
This Q&A is part of the multi-jurisdictional guide to arbitration. For a full list of jurisdictional Q&As visit www.practicallaw.com/arbitration-guide.
Use of arbitration and recent trends
1. How is commercial arbitration used and what are the recent trends?
Use of commercial arbitration and recent trends
The Arbitration Act 60/2003 entered into force in 2004. It represents a leap forward in the development of the arbitration system as a method of resolving disputes over commercial contracts.
The Arbitration Act is based on the UNCITRAL Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration 1985 (UNCITRAL Model Law). It seeks to:
The introduction of arbitration in Spain is slower in comparison with the rest of Europe and in many other countries, but is progressive. As an alternative to court litigation, it aims to offer an expeditious, effective and cheaper resolution of disputes, interpretations, breaches or non-performances.
The disadvantages of arbitration in Spain are higher costs, the fact that the potential outcome is non-challengeable, the difficulty in ensuring that truly impartial arbitrators are appointed, among others.
2. What legislation applies to arbitration? To what extent has your jurisdiction adopted the UNCITRAL Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration 1985 (UNCITRAL Model Law)?
The Spanish legislator follows the recommendations of UNCITRAL, under the UNCITRAL Model Law, and takes into account UNCITRAL's work incorporating technical advances and meeting the new needs of arbitration practices, particularly with regard to the requirements of arbitration agreements and the adoption of precautionary measures.
The UNCITRAL Model Law is specifically designed for international arbitration; but its purposes and solutions are valid, in the vast majority of cases, for domestic arbitration.
The principal legislation that governs arbitration in Spain is:
Mandatory legislative provisions
3. Are there any mandatory legislative provisions? What is their effect?
The Arbitration Act includes several mandatory provisions, such as:
4. Does the law prohibit any types of disputes from being resolved via arbitration?
Only disputes relating to matters with free disposal of the parties can be settled by arbitration (Article 2, Arbitration Act). This means that criminal, tax, labour or family issues cannot be submitted for arbitration. However, industrial property and issues subject to company bye-laws are eligible for arbitration.
5. Does the law of limitation apply to arbitration proceedings?
The law of limitation applies to both arbitration and judicial proceedings. In commercial disputes, the legal statute of limitations for:
However, this period can be interrupted by the claiming party through a judicial or extrajudicial action which will restart the statute of limitations period. Finally, there are other limitations under the Commercial Law or the Corporation Law.
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