Next amendments to the Code of Civil Procedure are being worked on. The drafted amendment is supposed to make court proceedings more effective and cheaper.
In accordance with the proposed changes courts are to proceed according to a scheduled- plan of proceedings called in the project “the hearing plan” and decide cases based on accumulated evidence. Thus, the defendant in each case will be obliged to take a stance on the claimant’s statements expressed in the suit, filing a response to the suit with the court.
Currently, pursuant to Article 207 of the Code of Civil Procedure filing a response to the suit is a right rather than an obligation of the party.
After the amendments the party will have two weeks to take a stance on the claims included in the suit by filing a response to the suit with the court. In justified cases the court will be able to extend this time limit ex officio or at a request of the party. Failure of the party to file their response with the observance of the time limit set will result in serious consequences for the party, i.e. the response being returned by the presiding judge.
Failure to submit the response to the suit within the specified time limit is to also result in the defendant being considered as having admitted the claims with regard to the facts presented by the claimant in the suit as undenied facts and admitted facts. On these grounds the court will be able to pass a default judgment at a closed session.
The defendant will be informed about the above in an instruction sent by the court with the request to take a stance on the case, and the claimant, in turn, will be informed by the court that the defendant was summoned to file a response to the suit.
Due to importance of such instructions, they will be delivered directly to the parties, even if the parties are represented in the course of the proceedings by a professional attorney-in-fact, i.e. an advocate, legal adviser, patent agent or an attorney of the General Counsel to the Republic of Poland.
According to the legislator such a solution will contribute to acceleration of the proceedings and will comply with the citizen’s right to court, since this right should not be identified with the “right to a hearing”.
In non-litigious proceedings, in turn, filing a response to a petition (an equivalent of the suit in litigious proceedings) will be an exception and will be obligatory to the party only and exclusively if the presiding judge so decides.
It is also worth noting that according to the new regulations the hearing is to be prepared in such a way that there are no obstacles to the case being resolved at the first hearing scheduled. More than one court hearing will be scheduled only if necessary, especially if examination of all pieces of evidence during one hearing proves impossible. In such a case hearings should take place on consecutive days, and if this is not possible – so that the lapse of time between consecutive hearings is not excessive.
Due to the new model of case examination by courts in which the hearing will no longer be a rule, Article 217 of the Code of Civil Procedure will be repealed and replaced with new regulations generally permitting the parties to submit motions for evidence by the time of approval of the plan of proceedings (“the hearing plan”).
Pursuant to the new regulations, if preparatory proceedings have been scheduled, the party will be able to invoke claims and pieces of evidence to justify their motions or invalidate motions and claims of the opposing party by the time of approval of the plan of proceedings (“the hearing plan”), which should take place during the first court hearing at the latest. All claims and pieces of evidence presented after the plan of proceedings (“the hearing plan”) has been approved will be disregarded, unless the party proves that it was impossible to invoke them or the need to invoke them arouse at a later stage. As the justification to the draft amendments to the Code of Civil Procedure says, this solution will be adopted: “in order not to make the way to defence closed to a party who acts in good faith, but is prevented from meeting deadlines due to circumstances beyond their control only”.
On the other hand, if preparatory proceedings have not been ordered, the party will be able to invoke claims and pieces of evidence by the time the hearing is closed, subject to adverse effects which may arise for them as a result of temporising or not complying with the orders of the presiding judge and court decisions.
It has to be concluded that the proposed amendments, provided that they come into effect in the proposed form, will significantly affect the course of proceedings before courts in civil cases. Both the parties and their professional attorneys-in-fact will have to adjust to the new requirements. After the proposed changes have come into effect, the parties will be responsible for the outcome of their proceedings to an even greater extent than so far and will become their new host, replacing the court in this role.
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