ARBITRATION IN DENMARK - Vol. 1 No. 1 Aria 1990
Allan Philip - Member of the Danish Bar and the Institut du Droit International
Originally from American Review of International Arbitration - ARIA
Arbitration has been accepted in Denmark as a means of settling disputes since 1683, the date of the Code of Christian the Fifth.1 It has never been a subject of doubt that parties were free to settle their disputes through the intermediary of persons chosen by them and that arbitral awards would be enforced by the courts.
Apart from the above-mentioned provision in the old Code and minor legislation on specialized subjects such as disputes involving domestic animals and labor relations, no legislation on arbitration existed until 1972. In that year, a bill regulating arbitration2 was passed providing for the ratification of a number of international conventions that had come into existence in the fifties and sixties, beginning with the New York Convention of 1958.
The Act on Arbitration of May 24, 1972, contains only the absolute minimum of regulation, mostly codifying the body of judicial practice in existence and leaving the remainder of such practice untouched. It builds to a large extent upon the New York Convention and provides for the assistance of the ordinary courts — where needed — to set the arbitral process in motion or to, authorize the arbitral tribunal to continue its work.
The Act gives priority to the arbitral process over the courts in most cases, and prevents intervention by the courts except in extraordinary circumstances. The courts must dismiss claims which the parties in their agreement designate as subject to arbitration.3 Once an arbitral proceeding has begun, the courts must normally await its outcome before it may decide on any challenge to the jurisdiction of the arbitral tribunal.