Does an arbitral award have any binding effect on Austrian civil proceedings?

According to article 607 of the Austrian Civil Procedure Code ("ACPC"), arbitral awards have the same legal effect on Austrian proceedings as Austrian court decisions. This is only the case if the arbitral award is formally executed and if the award was issued by an arbitral tribunal with its seat in Austria. In cases where the arbitral award was issued by an arbitral tribunal with its seat outside of Austria, it can have the same legal effect as foreign court decisions if the award is declared enforceable or recognized in Austria (Article 614 ACPC).

According to article 411 of the ACPC, court decisions (and considering the above said regarding arbitral awards) eventually establish material legal effect (materielle Rechtskraft). This means that the decision or award constitutes exclusiveness (ne bis in idem) and a binding effect (Bindungswirkung) between the parties; meaning that the decision precludes the court to issue a new decision about an identical claim or rather a divergent judgement in subsequent proceedings.

Only the section of the decision dealing with the determination of the concrete material desire (Sachbegehren) establishes material legal effect (hence becomes binding in further proceedings). On the other hand, not all parts of the decision are binding. The sections of the decision which do not enter into material legal effect are (i) the determinations of facts (Tatsachenfeststellungen) (ii) the sole legal principles (Rechtssätze) and (iii) the assessments of preliminary questions which are not part of the decision (except when a preliminary question becomes an independently contestable decision).

The binding effect becomes relevant if the claimed legal desire in new proceedings is logically pending on the decision of former proceedings (i.e. the decision about claimed rent installments in a follow up process is logically pending of the determination of the due existence of a lease agreement stated in the decision of the pre-process). Due to the binding effect of decisions, only further negotiations, taking of evidence and repeated assessment of the effective legal relation (Rechtsverhältnis) are precluded; but not the negotiation and decision about the new cause of action (Klagebegehren). In new proceedings, the judge therefore must take the decision which entered into material legal effect as basis for the new decision. As an exception, in criminal proceedings the judge is not bound by any former determinations concerning the culpability of the accused.

In conclusion, an arbitral award constitutes a binding effect in Austrian proceedings to the extent of the concrete material desire which entered into material legal effect in the same way as an Austrian court decision.

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.