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What's new in litigation law?

The New Year often brings with it numerous changes in regulations, including changes affecting specific judicial or administrative procedures, with an impact on how litigation is conducted. What’s new in this area in 2013?

Civil procedure

The New Year has not brought major changes to the field of civil procedure in Poland, particularly in the Civil Procedure Code. As readers will recall, a major overhaul to the code took effect on 3 May 2012.

Amendments to certain provisions of the Civil Procedure Code took effect on 1 January 2013, including Art. 131 §1, 135 §2 and 139 §§ 1 and 11 (service of court papers), Art. 165 §2 (meeting deadlines by mailing pleadings at a Polish postal facility of a designated postal operator), Art. 47957 §1 (jurisdiction of the Court of Competition and Consumer Protection) and Art. 893 §§ 1 and 5 (attachment of bank accounts), but the changes are of an editing nature, resulting from amendment of the regulations governing the postal market to reflect the fact that the Postal Law of 2003 was superseded by the new Postal Law of 23 November 2012.

A minor amendment to Art. 47963 goes into effect on 21 January 2013, introducing grounds for stay of enforcement of decisions by the President of the Office of Electronic Communications: “In the event of filing of an appeal against a decision by the President of the Office, the Court of Competition and Consumer Protection may, upon application of the party that filed the appeal, stay enforcement of the decision until the case is resolved, if there is a risk of occurrence of a significant loss or effects that would be difficult to reverse.” This change was made in connection with an amendment to the Telecommunications Law.

Court system

The greatest number of changes are in the Law on the Common Court System, which provides the legal and organisational framework for the operations of the state courts hearing civil and commercial cases. This act has been comprehensively overhauled.

To mention just a few items, from 1 January 2013 the role of judicial referendaries has changed (after they were already given additional authority under a previous amendment to the Civil Procedure Code, e.g. to rule on cases seeking disclosure of a debtor’s assets, Art. 9202). Judicial referendaries are now authorised to perform any and all tasks within the common courts other than dispensing justice as such (Art. 2 §2 of the Law on the Common Court System), and there is a new rule providing that the court’s land and mortgage register division and registered pledge division shall be chaired by a judicial referendary (Art. 11 §2a).

Changes in the internal organisation of the courts at specific levels, the assemblies of appellate and regional court judges, and the functions of the director of each court have also come into force (for example, the new Art. 31a, which sets forth the scope of authority of the director of the court), as have new regulations for consideration of complaints and applications with respect to the operation of the courts (Art. 41a–41e).

Art. 69 and 100 of the act have also been significantly revised in order to reflect the increase in the retirement age to 67, with relevant adjustments for retirement of judges and their retirement benefits.

Administrative procedure and administrative court procedure

Few changes have been introduced at this time in administrative procedure.

The Administrative Procedure Code, which was extensively amended in April 2011, has now been modified only as necessary to reflect the current regulations upon entry into force of the new Postal Law. Thus, from 1 January 2013, the regulations concerning service (Art. 39, 44 §1(1) and 47 §1) have been amended, as well as Art. 57 §5(2), under which posting of a document at a Polish postal facility is sufficient to meet a filing deadline. Comparable changes have been made in the Law on Procedure Before the Administrative Courts (Art. 65 §§ 1 and 2, 73 §§ 1–3 and 83 §3).

However, further changes to the Administrative Procedure Code will come into effect on 1 July 2013, in connection with more widespread use of electronic instruments in administrative proceedings. The regulations providing for the authority to issue administrative determinations and other acts (Art. 107 §1 on administrative decisions, Art. 124 §1 on administrative orders, Art. 238 §1 on notification of resolution of an administrative complaint, Art. 54 §2 on summonses, and Art. 217 §4 on the elements of a certificate) will be amended with respect to signing of such acts with a personal signature and the electronic data that may be included in the new personal identity cards to be issued in Poland under the Act on Personal Identity Cards, which also comes into force on 1 July 2013.

Maciej Kiełbowski, Dispute Resolution & Arbitration Practice, Wardyński & Partners