Equality of the Parties - Chapter 18 - Arbitration Law of Czech Republic: Practice and Procedure
Alexander J. Bělohlávek, Univ. Professor, Dr.iur., Mgr., Dipl. Ing. oec/MB, Dr.h.c. Lawyer admitted and practising in Prague/CZE (Branch N.J./US), Senior Partner of the Law Offices Bělohlávek, Dept. of Law, Faculty of Economics, Ostrava, CZE, Dept. of Int. and European Law, Faculty of Law, Masaryk University, Brno, CZE (visiting), Chairman of the Commission on Arbitration ICC National Committee CZE, Arbitrator in Prague, Vienna, Kiev etc. Member of ASA, DIS, Austrian Arb. Association. The President of the WJA – the World Jurist Association, Washington D.C./USA.
18.I. SECTION 18 OF THE ARBACT
The principle of the equal treatment of parties, which is a manifestation, at a procedural level, of the equality of the parties as laid down in Section 18 of the ArbAct, is one of the essential principles not only of arbitration, but also of any adversary civil proceeding; compliance with this principle is essential at every stage of proceedings. The Arbitration Act emphasizes this principle by enshrining it in a separate provision, while most other principles applicable to the procedure in proceedings are contained in Sections 19 and 20 of the ArbAct. That is not to say that other principles are of a different “weight”. The criterion of proportionality should apply to any conflict between the effects of a specific principle on the procedural situation. Equal treatment should also be grasped as a principle which is always interpreted according to the specific conditions and circumstances of the proceedings. Nevertheless, equal standing cannot be confused with the like assessment of motions on procedure insofar as their content is identical. A typical example is a situation where it is impossible to accept an interpretation declaring that a party’s motion for the adjournment of a hearing or for the taking of further evidence must be heeded simply because a motion of the counterparty has been complied with, even though the sole apparent purpose of that motion was to cause unjustified delay in proceedings, or in cases where the taking of evidence would be entirely superfluous from the perspective of the evaluation thereof by the arbitrators. Equal treatment in this case means that the same abstract standards, tailored to specific proceedings and the circumstances of the relevatn procedural motion, are used to assess motions of the same content. In this case, it is fundamentally necessary to consider, as a basis, the reasons that prompted the party to bring the motion and whether such reasons are adequately corroborated.