Answer ... In Spain, arbitration is ruled by Law 60/2003, as revised in 2009, 2011 and 2015 (the Arbitration Act). This legislation applies to all arbitrations taking place in Spain that not are covered by special rules. In case of arbitrations covered by special rules (eg, consumer arbitration, administrative arbitration), the Arbitration Act still applies to all matters not covered by such rules (ie, subsidiarily).
The Arbitration Act covers all relevant issues in arbitration, including the arbitration agreement and its effects, the arbitrators and their powers, the arbitration proceedings, and the award and its effects and validity. Under the act, arbitration agreements must be in writing; an oral arbitration agreement is thus void, at least in the case of domestic arbitration.
The Arbitration Act does not apply - not even subsidiarily - to arbitration in labour matters (eg, in collective labour agreements), which is covered only by those few rules foreseen in the labour legislation regarding certain specific issues (eg, strikes, elections of labour representatives, interpretation of collective labour agreements). In some labour matters, arbitration of disputes may be deemed mandatory by the authorities - something that would never happen in the case of arbitrations covered by the Arbitration Act, for which a valid arbitration agreement is always a prerequisite.
Answer ... As a rule, the Arbitration Act applies to both domestic and international arbitration that takes place in the territory of Spain (Article 1). Certain provisions apply to international arbitration only (eg, Article 2.2 on limitation of the prerogatives of parties that are sovereigns or companies, Article 9.6 on the validity of the arbitration agreement and Article 34 on the rules applicable to the substance of dispute).
Pursuant to Article 3 of the Arbitration Act, an arbitration is deemed international if any of the following circumstances occurs:
- The parties reside in different countries at the time the arbitration agreement is concluded;
- The place of arbitration, the place where a substantial part of the obligations arising from the commercial relationship is to be performed or the place with which the subject matter of the dispute is most closely connected is different from the country where the parties reside; or
- The relationship from which the dispute arises affects the interests of international trade.
Answer ... The Arbitration Act follows the 1985 UNCITRAL Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration. However, the amendments to this model law adopted in 2006 were not incorporated into the Arbitration Act by the three amendments to the Arbitration Act enacted since 2009.
Answer ... No. Some provisions of the Arbitration Act are clearly mandatory, such as those on:
- the types of disputes that cannot be submitted to arbitration;
- the requirement that the arbitration agreement be in writing;
- the powers of the courts in matters submitted to arbitration;
- the rules of interpretation in certain matters;
- the independence and impartiality of the arbitrators;
- the need for the parties to be treated equally and to have full opportunity to present their case;
- the requirement that the award be in writing; and
- the effects, ground statement and the grounds for challenging an award.
Other than these, most provisions are applicable only if the parties - or, in a few cases, the arbitrators - have not opted for a different solution (eg, rules on deadlines and notifications, number of arbitrations, challenging an arbitrators, provision of funds deemed necessary to cover the arbitrators’ fees and expenses, procedural rules to be followed by the arbitrators in conducting the arbitration, place and language of the arbitration, oral hearings, the effects of default of a party, the appointment of experts to report on certain issues, choice of rules of law pursuant to which the dispute will be decided, deadline for delivery of the award, arbitration costs, timeframe for retention of documentation of the arbitration).
Answer ... For the time being, no plans to amend the arbitration legislation have been disclosed.
Answer ... Spain has been a party to the 1958 New York Convention since 1977. Spain has made no reservations to this convention.
Answer ... Yes. Spain has been a party to the 1961 European Convention on International Arbitration since 1975 and has also concluded several bilateral treaties on international arbitration (eg, with Argentina, Austria, Brazil, Chile, France, Italy, Mexico, Portugal and Uruguay).