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Acknowledgement of debt: What does the debtor’s behaviour mean?
litigation, Supreme Court, creditor protection
Recently, the Supreme Court of Poland commented on the subject of acknowledgement of debt, and at the same time gave some general guidance on how to interpret a debtor’s statements and behaviour. This is a key practical issue, as action by the debtor can cause interruption of running of the statute of limitations on the claim. Therefore, debtors should be cautious about what they state to creditors. Conversely, in many cases, creditors can take advantage of the debtor’s behaviour to improve their legal position.
What conditions can be imposed on the obligation to pay a fee to a construction contractor?
litigation, Supreme Court
In its judgment of 2 June 2021 (case no. II CSKP 7/21), the Supreme Court of Poland ruled on whether payment of the fee to a contractor for construction works can be conditional. This ruling is of great practical importance, as it comments on which contractual provisions regarding the fee are permissible and which are prohibited and thus invalid. This is essential reading for contractors and investors alike, providing valuable tips on how to frame construction contracts to ensure compliance with the regulations while affording proper legal protection.
Can a contractual penalty be cut by 99%? When?
Contractual penalties are a common instrument for sanctioning failures to perform non-monetary obligations (e.g. completing construction on time). Contractual penalties can be cut by the courts, but generally the Polish Civil Code indicates only the grounds for mitigating a contractual penalty. The details must be sought in the legal literature and the case law. Indeed, the regulations do not even provide guidance on how much contractual penalties can be reduced. Thus each case should be treated individually, guided by the principles discussed below.
Will high court fees for conciliation be cut?
Increased court fees for an application for a summons to conciliation have been in effect since August 2019. They were intended to prevent the use of settlement proceedings solely to interrupt the running of the limitations period. Has this effect been achieved?
Construction market when there is a war abroad
contract, public procurement
The construction market is facing more challenges. After many problems associated with the pandemic, other major difficulties have arisen due to Russia’s war on Ukraine. This presents the second recent case of
affecting the economy. Although the construction sector did well in the pandemic crisis, this time the outlook is much more pessimistic. Thus the new reality requires a rapid response and search for solutions to mitigate numerous risks.
Defects and payment: Handover dilemmas
litigation, Supreme Court
When is the investor required to pay for the performance of work? How do identified defects relate to this obligation, and when can handover be refused? These questions cause many difficulties in practice and are the basis for numerous, often very complex and long-running disputes. Recently, this issue was addressed by the Supreme Court of Poland. The interpretive direction it affirmed may help market players, including construction contractors, to whom these findings may apply by analogy.
Liquidated damages in construction contracts not only for works: New resolution of the Supreme Court
contract, Supreme Court
On 9 December 2021, the Supreme Court of Poland issued a resolution (case no. III CZP 26/21) examining liquidated damages in construction contracts. In construction, liquidated damages are particularly common, generating serious disputes even threatening the completion of projects. In practice, this instrument is mainly used by investors, and the problem usually affects general contractors and subcontractors.
Problems with justifications for rulings: How to proceed properly?
Recent amendments to civil procedure in Poland (especially the one dated July 2019) have raised numerous doubts on how to interpret the Civil Procedure Code, in particular provisions on service of court documents, justifications for rulings, and appeals. Some of these ambiguities have caused lots of problems for parties and their counsel, as incorrect application of these regulations can have severe consequences and even result in losing the case on procedural grounds. Some of the doubts concerning justifications for rulings were recently clarified by the Supreme Court of Poland.
Is an arbitration clause in a subcontract effective against the investor?
infrastructure, litigation, arbitration
The investor and the general contractor are jointly and severally liable for the subcontractors’ fees. However, this does not automatically mean that the provisions of the agreement between the subcontractor and the general contractor will apply directly to the investor. A particular provision is an arbitration clause determining the method for pursuing claims. If the general contractor and the subcontractor have agreed to arbitration, can the subcontractor pursue the investor in arbitration as well, or must the subcontractor file suit in state court?
Statute of limitations runs anew after postponement of payment: A new resolution of the Supreme Court
corporate, Supreme Court
Recently, the Supreme Court of Poland adopted an important resolution specifying the rules for running of the statute of limitations after a postponement of payment (creditor’s extension of the payment deadline). Under the resolution, if payment is postponed, the statute of limitations begins to run again from the new payment deadline. Thus, the view expressed by the Supreme Court allows the repayment of the debt to be divided into instalments along with postponement of the due date, and thus postponement of the beginning of the limitation period.
Interim relief more expensive than it may seem: Regulations to be amended
creditor protection, litigation
From August 2019, the fee for an application for interim relief to secure a monetary claim (e.g. for payment of a specific sum of money) made before a legal action is brought to court has increased significantly. Instead of PLN 100, the fee is equal to one-fourth of the fee that would be payable in a suit on the claim (maximum PLN 50,000). Under certain conditions, the fee for an application for interim relief will be set off against the fee on the document instituting the principal proceeding (statement of claim). However, the provisions allowing for this possibility may give rise to problems of interpretation, and thus the need to incur additional costs.
Will the Supreme Court resolve the problems with settlement attempts?
Supreme Court, litigation
The Supreme Court of Poland has presented to an expanded panel legal questions concerning a summons to attempt a settlement as an action interrupting the limitations period on a claim.