Cheaper requests for conciliation | In Principle

Go to content
Subscribe to newsletter
In principle newsletter subscription form

Cheaper requests for conciliation

New rules for payment of court fees on requests for conciliation in Polish civil proceedings have been in effect since 28 September 2023. The parliament has heavily reduced the fees to make the institution more attractive, after it ceased to interrupt the limitations period but only suspends it.

Expensive request for conciliation is a thing of the past

As of June 2022, a summons to a conciliation session in Polish civil proceedings no longer interrupts the limitations period, so that it starts to run anew, but only suspends the running of the limitations period for the duration of the conciliation proceedings.

Prior to this change, the parliament used high fees for requests for conciliation as a means to discourage litigants from abusing the summons to conciliation solely for the purpose of interrupting the limitations period on claims, without a real desire to settle the dispute. Applying to the court for a summons to a conciliation session required the claimant to pay one-fifth of the full filing fee on the merits of the claim. With a maximum fee for a statement of claim (PLN 200,000), a request for conciliation cost PLN 40,000. Given the high fee and decreased procedural impact of the request, this institution declined sharply in popularity.

New rules

Thus the parliament decided to take another stab at encouraging the use of conciliation. The latest amendment to the Act on Court Costs in Civil Cases, which took effect on 28 September 2023, introduced separate rules for payment of fees for requests for conciliation in monetary and other property cases (majątkowe) and non-property cases (niemajątkowe) (amending act dated 7 July 2023).

In cases involving non-property claims, a summons to conciliation will continue to be subject to a fractional fee of one-fifth of the fee on the statement of claim on the merits, but not less than PLN 100. However, such cases are rare, and most requests for conciliation involve property cases, which are now subject to a fixed fee: PLN 120 where the amount in dispute is up to PLN 20,000, and PLN 140 where the amount in dispute is more than PLN 20,000. This is a significant reduction of the fee in property cases, once again making this institution accessible to litigants.

Defining property and non-property rights

But in practice, it can be problematic to distinguish between property rights (monetary and otherwise) and non-property rights. In the legal literature and the case law, there is no clear consensus on the criterion that should be used to assess whether a given right can be considered a property right or a non-property right. According to the prevailing opinion, property rights directly condition the economic interest of the holder, which is not the case with non-property rights. This leads to the conclusion that a property right is a right closely connected with the economic interest of the holder. With this approach, certain rights will always qualify as property rights (such as ownership), regardless of whether in a given case a real market value could be obtained for a certain right. As a result, for example, ownership of a specific item, even of negligible market value, will also be considered a property right.

Fee refund?

Additionally, the amendment to Art. 79(1)(2)(e) of the Act on Court Costs in Civil Cases introduced the rule that three-fourths of the fee on a request for conciliation is refundable if a settlement is reached during the proceedings following from that application, unless the court has ruled a settlement inadmissible. This offers an incentive for the parties to pursue a settlement, but with the fees now so low, it may be of marginal importance.

Agata Jóźwiak, attorney-at-law, Dispute Resolution & Arbitration practice, Wardyński & Partners