This week, the long-awaited amendment to the Civil Procedure Code comes into force. It introduces a number of changes with an aim to facilitate and speed up the civil process.
I have already written about key changes to organisation of civil proceedings and commercial proceedings in our previous articles. This one is devoted to key changes to issuing the grounds to rulings and to appeal proceedings that the parties to proceedings will have to take into account.
From 21 August, the fee for motion to issue the grounds is PLN 100. If a person fails to pay the fee, court now orders to supplement it. Starting from 7 November, this will change and court will dismiss any unpaid motion without first asking to pay the fee. This is all the more important because it will be necessary to obtain the grounds to lodge any appellate measure (except for appeal to the highest instance or appeal to overturn the final judgment as unlawful). Also, the content of motion for issuing the grounds will be partially modified – it should explicitly state whether the request concerns the entire ruling or part of it, and if so, which part.
According to new guidelines, all grounds to rulings should be concise and include the factual basis for resolution of the case including statement of facts which court found supported, evidence which court took into account and reasons for which court denied evidence as unreliable or lacking force of evidence as well as explanation of legal grounds for the ruling with specification of applicable acts. In matters in which disputed amount does not exceed one thousand zloty, the grounds to ruling should essentially be limited to explaining the legal grounds.
The court should prepare the grounds in appeal or complaint proceedings within two weeks of the day of announcement or entering the ruling. What is important is that preparation of written grounds to the ruling on court’s own initiative does not relieve the party from an obligation to file a motion for service of the ruling with the grounds. Moreover, the motion for grounds will always be necessary when the court which hears an appeal/complaint decides to dismiss an appellate measure or modifies the challenged ruling.
If in the appeal proceedings, the court of second instance has not heard the evidence or changed the findings of fact of the court of first instance, and no challenges regarding these findings were provided in the appeal, the grounds to the ruling ma only include the explanation of legal grounds for the ruling with specification of applicable acts.
Under the new regime, the formal control will be simplified – the court of first instance will lose all its existing competences with that respect, while giving an appeal the course of action could be performed also by a court clerk.
The time limit for an appeal will also change – up to 3 weeks if court has extended time limit for preparation of written grounds – and the structure of the appeal. When challenging the factual basis for the ruling, the parties will be obliged to point out individual facts established by the court of the first instance which are contrary to the actual state or unestablished facts significant for the resolution. When adducing new facts or evidence, the parties will be obliged to substantiate that adducing the same in the proceedings before the court of first instance was not possible or the need to adduce them arose later, and when adducing evidence recorded using sound or sound-and-image recording device – indicate the specific part of recording.
Appellate court may hear an appeal in a closed session always when it finds that holding a trial is not necessary and none of the parties exercised the right to demand holding a trial and also when court hears an appeal against the ruling on dismissal of a frivolous lawsuit. After 7 November, failure to submit a motion to examine an appeal during a trial may always deprive that party of the possibility to defend during the trial.
A novelty is that the case may be re-examined by the court of the first instance with the bench composed of the same judges that issued the ruling which the court of the second instance reversed and remanded for re-examination.
From 7 November, a complaint to the court of the second instance will only be admissible when challenging the judgments of courts of first instance, interlocutory decisions of courts of first instance or orders of the presiding judge regarding:
Other complaints will be examined by the same court with different adjudicating panel.
Learn more: Separate commercial proceedings reinstated
Starting from 7 November, court clerks will have new competences (including the control over the correctness of the filed appeal, in the payment order proceedings and decisions on liabilities of third parties in civil procedure), what results in new rules for complaints against decisions entered by them.
A general rule will be that a complaint against court clerk actions is admissible in any case in which a complaint or appeal would be admissible against court ruling. A complaint should be filed with the court in which the court clerk issued the decision, within one week of its service, and if grounds to the ruling were requested – of the date of service the ruling with the grounds.
Following a complaint of an authorized party, the decision of court clerk becomes ineffective, and if this decision related to court fees or costs of process or refusal to appoint advocate or attorney-at-law, the enforceability of that decision will be suspended.
Upon filing a complaint, the court in which court clerk works will examine the matter as a court of first instance. If the complaint is manifestly grounded, the court clerk who entered the challenged decision will have one week of filing the complaint to find the complaint justified and, if necessary, issue another decision which may be complained too.
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