Recognition and enforecement of arbitral awards in Greece
According to articles 903, 905 and 906 of the Greek Code of Civil Procedure (Kodikas Politikis Dikonomias, the “CCP”), a creditor may enforce a foreign arbitral award in Greece only if the award has first been recognized by the court of first instance (Monomeles Protodikeio) at the place of the debtor’s seat or domicile. In the event that the debtor is not seated or domiciled in Greece, the award may be recognized by the Athens Court of First Instance. In any case, the regulations set forth by International Conventions prevail over the CCP. Note that Greece is, for instance, a member state of the 1958 New York Convention (the “NYC” implemented by Law Decree 4220/1961).
The application for recognition must be filed in accordance with the Greek jurisdiction rules. In principle, it is the creditor who should serve the application upon the debtor who may consequently decide to participate in the recognition hearing or may refrain from doing so. In any event, even if the application for recognition has not been served upon the debtor, the court may nevertheless decide to invite the debtor to the hearing of the application.
According to article IV of the NYC (see http://www.uncitral.org/pdf/english/texts/arbitration/NY-conv/XXII_1_e.pdf) as construed by Greek case law and practice, the party applying for recognition and enforcement of a foreign arbitral award shall submit the following documents along with its application:
(a) The original document or a certified copy of the document containing the arbitration agreement; Note that in accordance with Greek case law and practice, it is sufficient to submit the arbitral tribunal’s official records of the case in the event that the parties have not concluded a written arbitration agreement but have nonetheless participated in the arbitration proceedings without objecting to the arbitral tribunal’s jurisdiction,;
(b) The original arbitral award or a certified copy thereof officially translated by the translation service of the Hellenic Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Upon receipt of those documents, Greek courts will abstain from reviewing the award on the merits, including the arbitral tribunal’s legal reasoning. Recognition and enforcement of a foreign arbitral awards may be refused by Greek courts upon the debtor’s request in accordance with article V of the NYC.
In Greece, the time frame for judicial recognition of a foreign arbitral award varies from 5 to 12 months. In practice, the hearing of an application for recognition may be postponed once or twice. However, the creditor may safeguard its interests during this time by filing an application for an interim measures against the debtor. The remedies that may be sought by such an interim measure vary and the Greek courts are free to shape them as they deem appropriate in their absolute discretion. The most popular interim measures include freezing injunctions, prohibitory injunctions and injunctions for interim payments.
A Greek court’s judgment that recognizes a foreign arbitral award is immediately enforceable. The debtor may consider filing an appeal against this judgment, provided however, that the debtor has participated in the first instance hearing of the application for recognition. If the debtor has not participated in this hearing although it had been summoned, the judgment of the first instance court is final and no appeal can be filed. The appeal has to be filed within 30 calendar days from the date on which the judgment has been served upon the debtor. In case an appeal is filed, the enforcement of the judgment has to be postponed until the final judgment of the court of appeals is available.
In the event that no appeal is filed, the creditor may initiate enforcement proceedings. At this stage, a certified copy of the arbitration agreement and of the arbitral award along with official translations into Greek have to be resubmitted to the Secretary of the court of first instance.
The judicial recognition and enforcement of a foreign arbitral awards in Greece does not involve significant costs and expenses.