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Slovakia has spent €15.5m on arbitration over health insurance profit ban

The Finance Ministry has confirmed that Slovakia has paid more than €15.5 million to lawyers representing the country in its dispute with private health insurers over restrictions on how they use their profits, the SITA newswire reported. The ministry refused to elaborate further.

The Finance Ministry has confirmed that Slovakia has paid more than €15.5 million to lawyers representing the country in its dispute with private health insurers over restrictions on how they use their profits, the SITA newswire reported. The ministry refused to elaborate further.

Slovakia has been involved in three arbitration processes with the foreign shareholders of health insurers Union, Dôvera and Apollo. The Finance Ministry cannot comment on further steps in detail because the rules of arbitration require strict confidentiality, ministerial spokesperson Martin Jaroš explained.

The individual disputes are at various stages, the ministry said. The arbitration involving Union is at the so-called merit stage, in which a decision will be made about whether Slovakia violated commitments arising from its investment agreement with the Netherlands. If the arbitration tribunal confirms wrongdoing on Slovakia's part, then the amount of damages will then be determined. The Arbitration process with Dôvera's shareholder is in the jurisdiction phase, during which a panel decides whether it is authorised to deal with the dispute; the arbitration process with Apollo's shareholder has only reached an early jurisdiction phase.

The Finance Ministry said it is thoroughly analysing the arbitration proceedings and is seeking ways to help meet the pledges of the present government. The law that limits the options for health insurers to use any profits they generate and orders them to return profit to the health sector was enacted by the former government of Robert Fico.

The law is currently being challenged in Slovakia's Constitutional Court. Speaker of Parliament Richard Sulík recently asked Fico, who is now a deputy speaker of parliament and a lawyer by training, to represent parliament in a hearing scheduled for January 26, but Fico refused.

Source: SITA

Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
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