Enforcement of Arbitral Awards (SAR) 1999-1
Kaj Hobér, partner Mannheimer Swartling, Stockholm and Moscow; Professor of East European Commercial Law at Uppsala University; Member of the Board of the Arbitration Institute of the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce.
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1. FINALITY AND ENFORCEABILITY OF ARBITRAL AWARDS
Arbitration has long been used to settle commercial disputes in Sweden. Arbitration has also become the preferred method of settling disputes at the international level: indeed in international transactions it is often the only realistic method of dispute resolution which the parties can agree to employ. One of the undisputed advantages of arbitration is that an arbitral award, in most legal systems, is final and binding when rendered. This means that an award is final and binding on the merits, i.e. it cannot be appealed and re-tried on the merits. On the other hand, most legal systems have rules allowing for the setting aside of arbitral awards on certain narrowly-defined procedural grounds. The efficiency and attraction of a country as a place for arbitration depends to a large extent on how restrictive its legislation is in this respect. Generally speaking, Swedish courts have traditionally been reluctant to set aside arbitral awards.
One of the cornerstones of modern arbitration, therefore, is the finality of the arbitral award. Another fundamental aspect – and often closely related to finality – is the enforceability of arbitral awards. At the international level, much has been achieved by the widespread acceptance of the 1958 New York Convention. Most important trading nations today, including Sweden, have acceded to the Convention. The rules and principles laid down in the New York Convention do however, leave room for significant differences in the enforcement procedures of different countries. Enforcement rules in national law do therefore continue to play an important role in international commercial arbitration. This article aims to address the two above-mentioned issues – finality and enforceability – against the background of the relevant provisions of the 1999 Arbitration Act (the "Act").