Court Orders Slovakia to Pay EUR 22M to Health Insurer
Slovakia has lost the drawn out case lodged against it by health insurance company Union after PM Robert Fico banned private health insurers from making profits under his first government in 2008.
The International Court of Arbitration presided over the case and ruled that the Slovak Republic would have to pay the Dutch owner of health insurer Union, the company Achmea, some EUR 22 million in compensation and EUR 3 million in arbitration costs.
The arbitration court decided that Slovakia had acted in violation to an agreement on the protection of investments, thereby giving weight to an earlier ruling of the Constitutional Court SR from January 2011 that Fico’s legislation was unconstitutional. Robert Fico’s plan to nationalise or even expropriate the two private health insurers on the Slovak market, Union and Dovera, now look even less feasible, but Fico plans to press forward with the plan, which is also contested by the owners of the private health insurers.
In response to the ruling, Robert Fico pointed out how the Slovak Republic still had the chance to contest the ruling as it was not yet effective, so no money would be paid out.
The Slovak government therefore plans to take the case to the European Court of Justice, as it feels that the arbitration court does not hold jurisdiction for the case. The arbitration court issued a decision before that it did not hold jurisdiction for presiding over another case against Slovakia, filed by health insurer Dovera, which is the Slovak Republic’s main legal defence against the latest decision.
Fico was advised by many not to ban the profits of health insurers, especially after they threatened arbitration proceedings. He was convinced, though, that the Slovak Republic could change the legislation in question as it wished, without heed of the impacts on the health insurance companies.
The Dutch owner of Union, Achmea, has also turned to the European Commissioner Tonio Borg for assistance in preventing the Slovak Republic from scrapping private health insurers in Slovakia altogether.