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On 20 July 2023, the Plenary Session of the Higher Council of Co-operatives of the Basque Country agreed to repeal the “Regulations on the procedure for conflict resolution in Basque co-operatives” currently in force and to approve new “Arbitration Regulations of the Higher Council of Co-operatives of the Basque Country”. The reason for approving new regulations is that, although the experience accumulated over several decades of providing the service has meant that it is of recognised prestige in the co-operative world for its legal and procedural rigour, this experience has served to identify some aspects that could be improved in order to achieve continuous improvement. Thus, throughout various articles of the Regulation, procedural and legal technical improvements are introduced, as well as the use of telematic mechanisms which technological evolution now allows for the use of appropriate legal security, and inclusive language.

The first most important general novelty is the exclusion of the regulatory framework for conciliations in the arbitration rules, in order to optimise the time and resources used to resolve them, so that conciliation and, where appropriate, mediation, will have different procedures from arbitration, and these services, as well as prevention and training services, will be provided directly by the Council itself.

Basque Co-operative Arbitration Court

The other outstanding new feature is that the arbitration system to date has been based on the existence of a list of arbitrators, who have resolved arbitrations on an individual basis. The new regulations abolish this system and create an arbitration tribunal called the Basque Cooperative Arbitration Court, a collegiate body made up of people of recognised prestige, independent and with authority in Basque cooperative law, a tribunal that will generate a single interpretative doctrine, provide legal certainty for agents and act independently in terms of its functions.

The new regulations will come into force thirty working days after their publication in the Official Gazette of the Basque Country, which is expected to be after the summer, and until then the regulations in force to date will continue to apply. Furthermore, procedures initiated prior to the entry into force of the new regulation will continue to be governed by the previous one.