On January 1, 2014, the long-awaited revision to the procedure for setting aside arbitral awards came into force. The previous legal framework required parties seeking to set aside an arbitral award in Austria to go through three levels of courts in order to receive a final and binding decision. This was considered as a burden in terms of both time and costs, and therefore made Austria arguably a less attractive place of arbitration. In addition, having to go through a lengthy court process might have discouraged some parties from challenging awards.
To address these issues, the Austrian legislator shortened the procedure. As of January 1, 2014 the Austrian Supreme Court (“OGH”) is the only court having jurisdiction over disputes on the setting aside of an arbitral award (in this context the OGH was also vested with the competence on additional issues related to arbitral proceedings). The OGH determines at its own discretion whether and by which means evidence is collected and whether an evidentiary hearing should be held.
In August 2014, the OGH rendered its first decisions under this new procedure; two of these judgments are discussed below.