Austria: Arbitration - A General Overview

Originally published by European Law Office.

1. Introduction – Legal framework

In Austria, arbitration is mainly governed by the fourth chapter of the Code on Civil Procedure (ZPO). The law defines the limits of arbitration – e.g. the validity of arbitration agreements or the minimum standards of a fair trial – and in addition to this it provides procedural rules which apply in the absence of a respective agreement between the parties. As of today, Austrian arbitration law is not based on the UNCITRAL Model Law, but a working group recently proposed draft legislation to change the respective chapter, adapt it to the Model Law, and provide an even better environment for arbitration than it is right now.

2. The Arbitration Agreement

2.1 Subject matter

Arbitration agreements can generally be concluded in all civil matters, either for present disputes or for future disputes concerning a sufficiently determined legal relationship between the parties (Section 577 (2) ZPO). Exceptions include marital and family law matters or disputes on the termination of contracts regarding the lease of apartments, claims for the contribution of the share capital of a limited liability company, and future employment law disputes, except disputes arising from employment contracts of managing directors of limited liability companies and stock corporations.

2.2 Required form

The arbitration agreement must be concluded in writing, but electronic data transmission such as e-mail or fax fulfills the requirement (Section 577 (3) ZPO). A reference to general business terms is insufficient, unless these documents are attached to the signed contract and there is a special reference to the arbitration clause in the contract. The signing of the arbitration agreement by agents or attorneys-at-law requires a special power of attorney.

3. The Arbitrators

The arbitrators can be freely chosen, but active judges must not accept appointment as arbitrators (Section 578 ZPO). If there are no relevant rules in the arbitration agreement, each party must appoint one arbitrator. These two arbitrators then appoint a third person as the chairman of the arbitral tribunal (Section 580 ZPO).

If the parties fail to appoint an arbitrator or the arbitrators fail to appoint the chairman, the arbitrator or the chairman will be appointed by the court (Section 582 (1) ZPO).

At the VIAC, the arbitrators can also be chosen by the parties (Art 5 (1) Vienna Rules). The parties can agree on a sole arbitrator or an arbitral tribunal consisting of three arbitrators. A list of possible arbitrators facilitates the search but does not constitute a limitation of admissible arbitrators. If the parties fail to choose the arbitrators, they are appointed by the Board of the VIAC (Art 9 Vienna Rules).

An arbitrator can be challenged for the same reasons as a judge, thus if he is closely related to one of the parties of the arbitration, or if there is sufficient reason to believe that an arbitrator will act in a partisan way (Section 586 (1) ZPO).

4. Procedure

Generally, the procedural rules are set by the arbitrators unless the parties have agreed otherwise. Austrian law only provides minimum standards of due process. By doing so, it stipulates that both parties must be heard and that the arbitrators must establish the relevant facts of the case. Default judgments are not permissible (Section 587 (1) and (2) ZPO).

In certain respects, Austrian law expressly limits the power of the arbitrators. They may not apply coercive measures or impose fines against parties or other persons, and they are not entitled to put any person under oath (Section 588 ZPO). Also, arbitrators cannot force witnesses to appear before the arbitral tribunal.

Court intervention is very limited. The courts may assist the arbitrators where the latter's power is limited, eg in issuing subpoenas to witnesses (Section 589(1) ZPO; Art XIII EGJN-Introductory Act to the Jurisdiction Code).

Unless the arbitration agreement states otherwise, the arbitrators have to decide by majority vote (Section 590 ZPO).

Apart from these basic principles, the parties are free to agree on the procedural rules to be applied. This agreement may be part of the arbitration clause or, more commonly, may be entered into in the form of a separate document which is often prepared by the arbitration panel. In the absence of an agreement between the parties, the arbitrators may decide on the applicable procedural rules at their own discretion. If the parties agree on the rules of a specific arbitration body such as ICC International Court of Arbitration or the International Arbitral Center of the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber, the procedural rules of this arbitration body apply.

The possibility of recovering the costs of the proceedings is subject to an agreement between the parties, which must be incorporated either in the arbitration agreement or in a separate document (eg Term of reference). In the absence of such an agreement, the arbitration panel may decide on the recovery of costs and will usually do so in the same way as the respective provisions of the Austrian Civil Procedure stipulate for court litigation.

5. Interim Relief

Arbitration courts are not entitled to grant interim or conservatory measures. Such a relief may be issued and executed by state courts even while arbitration proceedings are pending before the arbitrators. However, this situation will most probably be changed by the enactment of the new law on arbitration which is to be expected soon.

6. Award and Enforcement

If the case is decided by more than two arbitrators, they decide by absolute majority, unless the arbitration agreement contains anything to the contrary (Section 590 ZPO). Austrian law stipulates no time limit for the delivery of the arbitral award. The award must be issued in writing. It must be signed at least by a majority of the arbitrators and contain the date of the decision (Section 592 ZPO).

Arbitral awards are binding and enforceable. If no appellate proceedings are foreseen by the parties they are also final. Upon request of a party, this has to be confirmed by the arbitrator or the chairman of the arbitral tribunal (Section 994 ZPO).

Arbitration awards constitute effective titles of execution and are enforced by Austrian courts in the same way as judgements of state courts (Section 1 (16) Enforcement Code). Foreign awards are enforceable according to the provisions of the New York Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards and the Geneva Convention, of which Austria is a party.

7. Annulment of Awards

Arbitration awards can be set aside by state courts under specific circumstances set out in Article 595 of the Code of Civil Procedure:

- the absence of a valid arbitration agreement;

- denial of a party's fair chance to present its case;

- violation of statutory or contractual stipulations as to either the composition of the arbitral tribunal or the decision-making of such tribunal;

- the failure of the arbitrators to sign the original copy of the arbitration award;

- dismissal of the challenge of an arbitrator although sufficient reason for the challenge existed;

- excessive exercise of the arbitral tribunal's jurisdiction (ultra petita);

- violation of Austrian public order or statutory provisions of Austrian law which cannot be avoided, even if the parties agree on the application of foreign law;

- circumstances as enumerated in Section 530 ZPO for the reopening of civil procedures (including eg false testimony of witnesses); however, this ground may be waived in the arbitration agreement if such agreement is entered into by businessmen.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Related Topics
Related Articles
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions