June 1, 2007
Arbitration in the Baltics: Contemporary Issues
On June 1, 2007 the Riga Graduate School of Law (RGSL) held an international conference entitled “Arbitration in the Baltics: Contemporary Issues”. More than 60 participants took part in the event. The participants were coming from all three countries under consideration, that is, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, as well as from Sweden, Russia, Byelorussia, Hungary, United Kingdom, Austria and Italy.
The theme of the conference was carefully chosen. Nowadays arbitration has become an extremely popular tool of dispute settlement all around the globe. The Baltic States are not an exception to this trend. New arbitration procedures were put in place in the last decade or so, whereas the reality calls for further adjustments of the legal framework, which would meet current needs.
The conference brought together both practitioners, ministry employees and academicians, who are interested and working in the field of ADR (Alternative Dispute Resolution). The fact that the Minister of Justice of the Republic of Latvia, Mr. Gaidis Bērziņš, opened the Conference, as well as that the event was sponsored by such prominent law firms as "Sorainen Law Offices", "Skudra & Ūdris" and "Liepa, Skopiņa / BORENIUS, together with the Latvian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the European Branch of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, speaks in favour of the great importance of the topic.
The Conference consisted of four panels.
Panel I was called “Legal Framework”. Speakers from all three Baltic countries briefed the participants about the legal acts governing the arbitration in each respective country, the popularity and spread in use of arbitration, as well as (e.g., in the case of Latvia) about the planned amendments to the current law.
Discussion in Panel II concentrated around the questions related to the arbitration agreement as such. How should the arbitral clause be drafted in order to minimize the possible future divergencies in the parties’ opinions at a later stage, how to address the parties’ protests arising during the proceedings, etc., were some of the questions on which the presenters focused their attention.
Panel III looked at the enforcement of the arbitral awards. Prof. Kalvis Torgāns spoke about the grounds for refusing enforcement of arbitral awards, making a comparison between the relevant provision in the Civil Procedure Law, the draft text prepared by the Ministry of Justice, and the corresponding provisions of the foreign laws (France, Sweden, etc.). Renata Berzanskiene and Agne Jonaityte from the Sorainen Law Offices in Vilnius looked at the powers of the domestic courts in arbitration proceedings. In it sown turn, Hans Bagner from the Vinge law office in Stockholm briefed on appeal procedures in the arbitral process.
Lastly, in contrast to the previous panels, which were mainly concerned with the domestic and international commercial arbitration, Panel IV looked at the investment arbitration. Ieva Kalniņa (currently the trainee at the ICC in Paris) shared with the public her thoughts on how to ensure the quality of awards. Mārtiņš Paparinskis (PhD candidate, Oxford University) spoke about the corporate nationality and protection of shareholders in investment arbitration.
The materials of the Conference will appear in the Baltic Yearbook of International Law, Volume 2008.