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Alexandre Khrapoutski,
Advocate, partner

Valeryia Silchanka,
Associate

Recognition and enforcement of foreign arbitral awards rendered at the Arbitration Institute of the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce in the Republic of Belarus

14.03.2020
The Arbitration Institute of the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce (SCC) is by far one of the most attractive for Belarusian business. Most likely, historical reason of it is that in 1970s Stockholm was recognized as a neutral place for resolving disputes arising from Soviet-American trade treaties. Since that time, SCC, founded in 1917, has become one of the leading arbitration institutions.
According to information provided by the official SCC website [1], during the period between 2010 and 2017, the statistics of cases involving belarusian side looked as follows:
According to data statistics on Belarusian courts of general jurisdiction activities for the first half of 2018, 408 applications were submitted to economic courts on appeals against decisions of international arbitration courts and on the issuance of enforcement document, nine of which were returned without consideration [2].

Currently, most applications for the recognition and enforcement of foreign arbitral awards are being returned without consideration for reasons related to the (non)provision of an original arbitration award / agreement or its duly certified copy, as well as confirmation of payment of the state fee.

Thus, the Economic (before January 1, 2014 - Economic [3]) court of Minsk by its court ruling returned the claimant's application for recognition and enforcement of the SCC decision without consideration, indicating that the applicant had not submitted to the court a genuine agreement on arbitration or its proper manner certified copy.

At the hearing, the court shall establish the presence or absence of grounds for refusing recognition and enforcement of the foreign arbitral award. These grounds are provided by Art. V of the New York Convention: grounds of a private nature (paragraph 1 of article V) and grounds of a public nature (paragraph 2 of article V).

The public grounds deserve special attention. Such grounds may be applied at initiative of the economic court, regardless of whether there is a request from the party against which the arbitral award has been issued. Public order is a fairly popular reason for refusing to recognize and enforce a foreign arbitral award, and the legislation of the Republic of Belarus does not fix the list of disputes that cannot be the subject of arbitration. Each time, the question of the arbitrability of the dispute must be soluted by the court.

At the same time there is a positive trend regarding the recognition and enforcement of foreign arbitral awards rendered by the SCC in the Republic of Belarus.

Particularly the economic court allowed the enforcement of the SCC decision in one of the court ruling. The defendant's arguments that the SCC, which have considered the dispute between the parties to the contract, are not the competent authority, were recognized as unfounded.

As in one arbitration clause mentioned, the parties determined that the competent arbitration body would be not the state, but the international arbitration court and that this arbitration court should be permanent and located in Stockholm (Sweden). Since the defendant did not provide evidence that another permanent international court exists in Stockholm, the inaccurate name of the arbitration clause regarding the reference to arbitral tribunal cannot raise doubts that the parties at the conclusion of contract had in mind the Arbitration Institute of the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce [4] .

In another case the court of the first instance, following the norms of international agreements and the legislation of the Republic of Belarus and satisfying application for recognition and enforcement of the SCC decision, reasonably concluded that submitted documents showed that there were no grounds for refusing recognition and enforcement the specified decision, and the arbitration process took place in accordance with SCC [5].

The economic courts of Grodno and Brest regions examined three applications for recognition and enforcement of three decisions on recover debts for delivered goods, interest and other expenses from residents of the Republic of Belarus on territory of the Republic of Belarus made by the SCC. In all three cases the courts granted the application and issued judicial orders for the enforcement of the awards in the territory on the Republic of Belarus on the basis of the EPC of the Republic of Belarus and the New York Convention [6].

It can be argued that the courts of the Republic of Belarus are actively working to consider applications for recognition and enforcement of foreign arbitral awards, including those rendered by SCC.
[1] https://sccinstitute.com/statistics/

[2] http://www.court.gov.by/ru/justice_rb/statistics/

[3] Since January 1, 2014, the Republic of Belarus has a unified system of courts of general jurisdiction, which combines general and commercial courts. The latter were renamed the economic courts of the regions of the country and the city of Minsk. The Supreme Economic Court of the Republic of Belarus has joined the Supreme Court of the Republic of Belarus. The whole system of courts of general jurisdiction is headed by the Supreme Court of the Republic of Belarus.

[4] Kolbasov R. A. Commentary on judicial practice in cases of recognition and enforcement of decisions of foreign courts and foreign arbitral awards, on appeal against decisions of international arbitration courts located on the territory of the Republic of Belarus and on the issuance of a writ of execution // Consultant Plus: Belarus [ Electronic resource] / LLC "YurSpektr", National. legal inform center. The Republic of Belarus. - Minsk, 2019.

[5] Decision of the cassation board of the Supreme Economic Court of the Republic of Belarus of January 10, 2007 (case No. 2-4 / Ikh / 2006 / 1226K).

[6] Kamenkov V. S. Experience of economic courts of the Republic of Belarus in recognition and enforcement of decisions of foreign courts and foreign arbitral awards (as of November 10, 2006) // ConsultantPlus: Belarus [Electronic resource] / LLC YurSpektr, National legal inform center. The Republic of Belarus. - Minsk, 2019.
* This article was prepared for Arbitration.ru as of March 14, 2020.

** This article provides general information and should not be considered as legal consultation.

Alexandre Khrapoutski, Advocate, partner - Lex Torre Law Office. Head of the international arbitration practice
Alexandre Khrapoutski,
Advocate, partner
Valeryia Silchanka, Associate - Lex Torre Law Office
Valeryia Silchanka,
Associate
info@lextorre.com
+375 17 25 090 26
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