EXEQUATUR OF FOREIGN ARBITRAL AWARDS

September 30, 2016

The international trade arbitration is a method, chosen by many parties for settlement of trading disputes that arise between them. It is an alternative to the standard court procedure, and is considered by many people to be much quicker, less expensive and more effective alternative dispute resolution. The standard arbitral procedure ends with issuing an award, which is obligatory for the participating parties and should be fulfilled by them. But considering the fact that the parties very often are traders from different countries, the issued arbitral award in one country should pass through the specific procedure of recognition and implementation in the country of execution, which process has the name “exequatur procedure”.

The legal rules for this procedure in Bulgaria are implemented in art.117-124 of the International Civil Law Code (ICLC) and the procedure of recognition of arbitral award falls within the exclusive competency of the Sofia City court. Although the procedure follows the basic steps of the procedure for recognition of foreign court decision, there are some differences and numerous specifics due mainly to the nature of the arbitral award. According to art.119 of the ICLC, a legal copy of the arbitral award, together with certificate issued by the same court, certifying that the award entered in force, both legalized at the local MFA, should be attached to the claim. It should be noted that within the exequatur procedure of foreign arbitral award, the local court here does not decide again on the legal dispute, but only checks and examines if the legal requirements within art.117 of the ICLC have been fulfilled; so in this line of thoughts, the documents that support such application, should be prepared very carefully.

Instead of this, according to its nature, the arbitral award does not represent a court decision so it is not a public, but a private document. To obtain such public capacity, the signatures of this document and the legal capacity of the parties who issued it, should be witnessed by a notary. Non-performance of this requirement may lead to denial of the application for recognition of the award in Bulgaria. The local court practice confirms this opinion. According to Decree No.743/28.12.2015 on private trade lawsuit No.2415/2015, II Trade Department of the Supreme Cassation Court “when approving in Bulgaria has been claimed, of private documents like the awards of the foreign Arbitration and the related certificates issued in the country which obeys the Hague Convention, then a notary witnessing of the signatures and the legal capacity of the parties who have issued these documents, is necessary”. Of course, in order to be used in Bulgarian Court of Law, these documents should be translated and legalized.

The above detailed procedure of exequatur of arbitral award is complicated and requires serious theoretical and practical knowledge in this area, where the lack of it could lead to rejection of the submitted documents. Court representation for performance of the procedure of exequatur of arbitral award is part of our lawyer’s practice so if you need assistance and guidance in relation to exequatur of arbitral award feel free to contact us. There is also a translator’s agency in our office to help with translations and legalization of the associated documents.

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