SLOVAKIA close to losing arbitration against Achmea

17 October 2013 —
Slovakia is a step closer to paying reimbursement to the Dutch company Achmea that owns the health insurance company Union. Last December, the arbitration court decided that the state has to pay EUR 22 million in reimbursement and court fees of EUR 3 million to Achmea, for the profit ban approved during the first tenure of Prime Minister Robert Fico.

The German Federal Supreme Court which now looking into the case did not comply with the objection of the Slovak government that the arbitration court is not competent to decide in the matter. The court announced that it would not decide on the objection as the case is already being ruled upon, the Sme daily wrote.

The Slovak Finance Ministry opines that this decision does not mean a duty for Slovakia to pay the money. It relies on the second court proceeding in Germany where it tries to contest the original verdict. In January 2013, Slovakia filed a lawsuit demanding the cancellation of the arbitration verdict. The Higher Regional Court of Frankfurt will rule on it.

Achmea studies the ruling before it issues a stance, Sme wrote.

In December, the International Court of Arbitration ruled that Slovakia must pay €22 million to Achmea, the Dutch owner of the health insurer Union, for what it called a violation of the provisions of the investment treaty between Slovakia and the Netherlands. Fico responded that nobody would pay anything to anybody. In June 2013, a Luxembourg court sided with Achmea and ordered the sequestration of €29.5 million in assets owned by Slovakia as part of a legal action brought against the country by the private insurer over controversial legislation which prevented privately-owned public health insurers from retaining profits or distributing them to shareholders.

The international arbitration court last year ordered Slovakia to pay Achmea compensation for losses the insurer suffered as a result of the legislation that had restricted Achmea's rights as the owner of Union, as well as to cover Achmea's legal fees.

The ban on health insurer profits, which was passed in 2007 and came into effect in 2008, was one of the most criticised laws passed during Fico's first government. In January 2011, the Constitutional Court ruled that the legislation restricted the property rights of the health insurers' shareholders and interfered in the insurers' right to do business by preventing them from making autonomous decisions over how to use their profits, and was thus unconstitutional.

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SLOVAKIA close to losing arbitration against Achmea
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