Author: Vratislav Pechota
Published: March 1990
Description: As an important part of the efforts to reform its economic system, the USSR has undertaken changes in the rules and institutions governing the settlement of economic disputes by arbitration.
Arbitration in the Soviet Union consists of two separate and unrelated systems: domestic economic arbitration and foreign trade arbitration. The former comprises a network of state arbitration boards whose authority is not derived from the consent of the parties, but rather flows from the regulatory power of the government. Since the ordinary courts in the USSR lack jurisdiction over economic disputes involving public enterprises, domestic economic arbitration takes the place of civil court adjudication. Domestic arbitration boards are modeled on the court system and many of their rules are based on the principles governing civil litigation. As a rule, a case is heard before a sole arbitrator who is a professional adjudicator and civil servant. His primary task is to assist the parties in reaching a settlement. Where a compromise cannot be reached or where public interest so demands, the arbitrator hears the evidence and decides the case in the same manner as would the judge. He may award damages and even impose penalties, and his decision is binding upon the parties.
The organization, authority and fundamental principles of procedure are outlined in special legislation. On April 16, 1988, the USSR Council of Ministers approved a revised Statute on State Arbitration and revised Rules for the Consideration of Economic Disputes by State Arbitration. These enactments make the system accessible to multinational enterprises set up within the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (CMEA) as well as to state enterprises from CMEA countries, but not to joint ventures that include the participation of Western capital.