Admissibility of Virtual Arbitral Hearings | ZFZ Postcard Cases

The Austrian Supreme Court has just recently addressed the topical question of the admissibility of virtual arbitral hearings. In that case respondents had challenged an arbitral tribunal after it ordered a virtual hearing despite their objections.

The Court rejected the argument that such order amounted to an unfair conduct of proceedings that could give rise to doubts as to the impartiality of the arbitrators.

To the contrary, the Court held that ordering virtual hearing against the will of one party was admissible and compatible with the principle of a fair trial pursuant to Art 6 ECHR and section 594(2) ZPO. As explained by the Court, such principle not only guarantees the parties’ right to be heard but also access to justice and hence effective legal protection. In particular in light of the COVID 19 pandemic and the potentially ensuing standstill of the administration of justice, remote hearings would facilitate harmoniously combining both aspects of this procedural guarantee.

Read more on this decision here (in German).