26.06.2023 Civil Code

Amendment to the Civil Procedure Code – changes in civil procedure from 1 July 2023

On 1 July 2023, an amendment to the Civil Procedure Code enters into force, which is of a remedial nature in relation to the 2019 amendment to that Code. The main purpose of the changes is to streamline the conduct of civil proceedings. What will change in civil procedure after the entry into force of the new regulations?

What is the purpose of this amendment to the Civil Procedure Code?

The adoption of the amendment to the Civil Procedure Code, i.e. the Act of 9 March 2023 amending the Civil Procedure Code and certain other acts, is aimed at:

  • speeding up legal proceedings
  • simplifying the existing procedures
  • making it easier for parties and representatives to contact the court
  • making it easier for consumers to enforce their rights in court
  • filling the identified regulatory gaps in the current legal system

Changes in the material jurisdiction of courts

The amendment to the Civil Procedure Code increases the value of the matter in dispute which determines material jurisdiction of the regional courts from PLN 75,000 to PLN 100,000. However, the change does not apply to cases of alimony, violation of possession and establishment of separate property regime between spouses, as well as cases heard in electronic writ-of-payment proceedings. The new rules will apply to cases filed with the court after the amendment enters into force.

Power of attorney for delivery of service – a new type of power of attorney

The amendment to the Civil Procedure Code introduces the new legal device “power of attorney for delivery of service” (Civil Procedure Code Art. 88 §2), or a procedural action consisting in the collection of court correspondence with the effect of service on a party. This power of attorney can be granted to any natural person – not just a professional representative.

Changes in the structure of pleadings submitted by attorneys

According to the new wording of Article1281 of theCivil Procedure Code, pleadings filed by a party represented by an advocate, legal counsel, patent attorney or the General Counsel to the Republic of Poland will have to clearly specify:

  • representations
  • contentions  
  • motions (including motions as to evidence)

Important: if a pleading submitted by a professional representative contains a justification, the motions as to evidence submitted only in this justification will not have the same effect that the law attaches to the submission of them by a party.

Motions as to evidence should now be included in particulars of the pleading, which is to increase the transparency of pleadings, thus streamlining the conduct of the process.

A pleading that does not comply with the above rules will have no effect. As a result, motions as to evidence may be disregarded altogether.

General formal requirements for a pleading unchanged

Under Article 126 of the Civil Procedure Code, a pleading must, in order to produce legal effects, specify at minimum:

  • the court to which a pleading is addressed
  • names of the parties, their statutory representatives or attorneys
  • indication of the type of pleading
  • the operative part of the motion or statement
  • facts and evidence supporting those facts
  • signature of the party or its statutory representative or attorney
  • list of annexes

Regulation of proceedings involving consumers

The amendment to the Civil Procedure Code introduces a new chapter to deal with proceedings for consumer claims against a trader or trader’s claims against a consumer (if that consumer is a party to the proceedings). The consumer may bring an action before the court competent for their place of residence. The new regulations also provide for the possibility of bringing an action also against a trader that has ceased to conduct business activity.

The court will be able to charge traders who abandon an attempt to settle the dispute amicably or participate in it in bad faith, with the costs of the process or even increase those costs twice. In addition, the trader will be obliged to present all contentions and evidence in the statement of claim or in response to the statement of claim within a period of no less than 2 weeks.

What other changes does the amendment to the Civil Procedure Code introduce?

Other changes introduced by the amendment to the Civil Procedure Code and entering into force on 1 July 2023:

  • expressing a view on the law and facts in judge’s instruction shall not be a circumstance justifying disqualification of a judge (Art. 49 §2)
  • obliging the court to rule ex officio on the obligation to pay interest (Art. 98 §11)
  • enabling the parties to conclude a settlement agreement before a mediator also in cases other than those covered by the statement of claim (Art. 18313 §2)
  • possibility of referring the case to in camera hearing if the dispute could not be resolved amicably and the evidence collected is sufficient to resolve the case (Art. 2055 §11)
  • orders issued during a preparatory hearing will be announced in the presence of the parties and are not to be served (Art. 2055 §21)
  • it will be inadmissible to re-file a petition for reopening of the proceedings in the same case by the same party and based on the same grounds, unless the circumstances of the case preclude such an assessment (Art. 4101)
  • relaxation of the rules on participation in a preparatory hearing and allowing only the parties’ attorneys to be summoned to the preparatory hearing (Art. 2054)
  • allowing the court to close the trial in camera if this contributes to a more efficient examination of the case and the fixing of subsequent hearings is unnecessary (Art. 224 §3)
  • extension of the list of decisions of the court of second instance against which an appeal may be lodged with a different composition of that court (Art. 3942 §11)
  • in cases where the value of the matter in dispute does not exceed PLN 4,000, the justification for the judgment may be limited to explaining the legal basis of the judgment with citation of legal provisions (Art. 5058 §4)
  • in enforcement proceedings, when a party is entitled to an appellate measure, the court will ex officio justify and serve together with the grounds of the decision issued in camera (Art. 7661 §1)

Purpose of the amendment and their potential effects

The main objective of the changes was to speed up the proceedings due to numerous complaints about their lengthiness. Nevertheless, many of the changes introduced before and now are controversial, as they prioritise simplifying and speeding up court proceedings at the expense of their quality, versatility and compromising the principle of direct examination of evidence by the judge. This extends the possibility for the court to adjudicate only on the basis of submitted documents and in camera by a single judge.

It is difficult to assume that with such complicated and numerous changes, individuals and traders will “cope” with any proceedings before court without the support of a professional representative, without exposing themselves to irreversible and negative procedural consequences.

Therefore, we may expect that in a short time the lawmakers will notice the inconvenience caused by the introduced changes and will consider another amendment to court procedures.

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