26.03.2024 Civil Code

Amendments to the Civil Procedure Code – March 2024

In March 2024, another batch of amendments to the Civil Procedure Code (CPC), introduced by the Act of 7 July 2023 amending the Code of Civil Procedure, the Act on Common Courts System, the Code of Criminal Procedure and Certain Other Acts (Journal of Laws of 2023, item 1860), entered into force.

The majority of provisions of the amending Act has already entered into force earlier, while a longer vacatio legis was provided for provisions that are extremely important from the point of view of the course of the proceedings concerning:

  1. electronic service of documents via information portal (added provision of Article 1311a CPC);
  2. conducting hearings remotely (Article 150(2) CPC), Article 151 §§2-9 CPC) and the possibility of taking evidence remotely (Article 235 §2 and 3 CPC, Article 2351 CPC).

1. Electronic service of documents via information portal

Pursuant to the new provision of Article 1311a CPC, if a document cannot be served via the ICT system, the court will serve the document on an advocate, legal advisor, patent attorney, prosecutor, pension authority or the General Counsel to the Republic of Poland, by downloading them to the information portal in a way that allows the recipient to obtain a document confirming the service.

This procedure does not apply if the pleadings to be served are to be served together with copies of the parties’ pleadings or documents not originating from the court,
unless the court has their electronic copies.

In this case, the effect of service is procedurally important, which occurs at the time indicated in a “document confirming the service” or 14 days after the document was posted on the information portal, if there is no “document confirming the service“.

An analysis of the regulations and practice leads to the conclusion that the “document confirming the service” is generated when the counsel receives the document in the information portal by “clicking” on the appropriate “receive” field in the information portal. If the counsel remains inactive, the court will take the 14th day from the date of posting the document on the portal as the date of service.

In this context, it is also important that Article 1311a (2) CPC excludes the application of Article 134(1) CPC, according to which, in principle, it is prohibited to serve documents on non-working days and at night. The exclusion of the application of this provision means that a pleading served on the information portal on a non-working day (which still happens, despite the demands formulated by professional associations to stop this practice) will have the effect of service and, consequently, will trigger the start of time limit for performing the action, also on a non-working day – which in turn may seriously complicate the work of the counsel.

2. Remote hearings

The second part of the amendment to the Civil Procedure Code, which comes into force on 14 March 2024, concerns the permanent transfer of the Covid regulations to the procedural ground, allowing for remote hearings.

From now on, the court is obliged to indicate in the notice of the date of hearing whether the summoned person is obliged to appear in court in person or whether he or she can take part in the hearing in the manner specified in Article 151 § 2,  that at a distance in the form of a remote hearing.

The remote hearing procedure is possible if it is not precluded by the nature of the actions to be carried out at the hearing and the remote hearing guarantees full protection of the procedural rights of the parties and the proper conduct of the proceedings. In such a case, the judge and the court reporter are present in the courtroom, and the other persons attending the hearing do not have to be in the courtroom of the hearing court, although this possibility must always be provided.

The decision on the form of hearing is taken on court initiative or at the request of the participant of such hearing. The deadline for submitting a motion is 7 days from the date of service of the notice or summons to the hearing.

It is important that court’s decisions (orders) regarding the manner of conducting the hearing, granting or refusing to grant the motion in this respect or the intention to take evidence remotely may be communicated to the summoned persons in a less formal manner, in accordance with Article 1491 CPC, i.e. in any way that the court deems expedient in order to speed up the examination of the case.

Although the above provisions to a large extent provide for flexible approach to the form of hearing, it cannot be overlooked that the summons of the court is binding on the party and allows the court to enforce this obligation in legally permitted forms. If the person summoned to court does not submit a motion to hold the hearing remotely or does not inform the court at least 3 business days before the date of the hearing about the intention to participate in it remotely, that person is obliged to appear in the courtroom without any additional summons.

The amendment in question stipulates that the actions carried out remotely are effective as long as the act does not require them to be in writing.

At the same time, the court is not deprived of the possibility to control the procedure during the remote hearing, because if it notices shortcomings, e.g. as to the conditions in which a person participating in a remote hearing is staying or has other doubts as to the proper course of the proceedings, it may summon that person to appear in person in the courtroom.

The amending act clarifies the provisions on the taking of evidence remotely. It provides that it is possible to take evidence remotely if its nature does not preclude a remote form of taking evidence. The act also provides that when requesting the taking of evidence, a party may indicate whether it requests that evidence be taken remotely or in a traditional form.

Amendments to the Civil Procedure Code – summary

The amendments discussed in this paper are still not fully complete. In particular, they should be supplemented by excluding the possibility of service in the information portal on non-working days and at night. The manner of granting counsels access to the information portal is still not working properly and is not properly regulated, and the inconsistency and incompatibility of the various systems of electronic contact with the court, which are currently being implemented, remain the subject of a separate discussion. 

At the same time, on the basis of this regulation, it is possible to see clearly the direction of the evolution of proceedings in connection with its progressive computerization, and at the same time it is possible to trace on their basis the legislative method, which is based on the use
and transformation of temporary solutions – such as COVID remote hearings – into target solutions, implemented into the civil procedure system.

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Bartłomiej Urbanek Senior Associate, Advocate
TGC Corporate Lawyers
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