The New Arbitration Acts in Germany and Sweden - Some Comparative Points - (SAR) 2000 -1
Christer Söderlund, partner, Vinge Law Office, Stockholm
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New arbitration acts have been introduced in Germany and Sweden more or less simultaneously. The German law was enacted on 1 January 1998 while the Swedish law - after a fairly protracted gestation process - entered into effect on 1 April 1999.
The underlying reasons behind the enactment of the new laws may be said to differ in degree rather than in kind. Both previous arbitration laws have suffered the vicissitudes of old age, in Germany only more so. The previous arbitration law in Germany dated as far back as 1877 and its regulatory approach has proven to be quite unsuitable to the requirements of modern international arbitration (one can only take the example of § 1028 of the Civil Procedural Code which foresees the constitution of a two-member arbitral tribunal)! It was noted in the context of preparing the new arbitration law that Germany was very rarely chosen as a place of arbitration but that this situation reasonably should be improved by a new up-to-date legislation in this area. Hence, the need was felt to enact a truly international, state-of-the-art arbitration statute. This is what has now come to pass and the result has been a modern arbitration law, which shares all of its fundamental features with the UNCITRAL Model Law.
In Sweden the scenario was somewhat different. The arbitration act, which has now been replaced, was enacted in 1929. Although of a venerable age it was therefore rather pristine in comparison with its German counterpart. The Act has therefore worked quite well also in a modern setting and its ailments have been of a less endemic nature. The consequence is that the new arbitration act in Sweden was subjected to a less pervasive remodelling than its German counterpart. This has meant that the new Swedish arbitration act has been more influenced by the previously existing legislation in this area. But still the UNCITRAL Model Law has to a large extent - but less than in the case of the German act - been used as a source of inspiration when formulating the new act.
Some salient points of the German and Swedish act are worth singling out for particular attention.