20.05.2020 Litigation and arbitration

New operating rules for courts


Along with THE Anti-Crisis Shield 3.0, the restrictions on courts will gradually be lifted. Adopted solutions such as reinstatement of public hearings, broader admission of distance hearings and resumption of procedural and judicial deadlines are intended to enable parties to proceedings to access justice as one of the foundations of the functioning of the state.

Reinstatement of public hearings

Public hearings i.e. with the participation of parties and witnesses, may be again conducted in courts.

In addition, it will be possible to obtain judgment without hearing in many new types of cases.

When will such solution be possible?

Courts will be able to issue a judgment without a trial or public hearing if they consider it is necessary to examine the case, but public examination of the case could cause an excessive threat to the health of persons participating in it, and the court do not have the equipment to conduct the hearing on distance.

If the evidentiary proceedings have been concluded, the court may close the case and enter its decision at a closed session, after having previously collected written positions from the parties or receiving testimonies from witnesses in writing.

Distant hearings

In general, according to provisions of the Anti-Crisis Shield 3.0, hearings may be conducted at a distance. Consequently, hearings of witnesses or experts will be held in video conference mode from another room in the court. Remote interviews of, for example, inmates of penitentiary facilities can also be conducted.

Yet, in the judges’ opinion, the provision according to which a hearing is conducted if it does not cause undue threat, raises doubts. As they say, they do not feel competent to assess whether such a threat actually exists or not, there are also currently no guidelines from experts in the field of epidemiology as to the conditions that must be met so that conducting the hearing in the courtroom does not expose the parties, judges and court staff to any health risk.

However, the Ministry of Justice announces that it will analyse and specify in the recommendations for courts the conditions for conducting such hearings, bearing in mind technical and organisational capabilities of the courts and the need for efficient operation of the system while ensuring an appropriate level of security.

It is also worth noting that for professional attorneys, distance hearings will not pose much difficulty. However, this can be a problem for people who did not appoint an attorney.

Urgent matters

New provisions of the Anti-Crisis Shield 3.0 introduce an extended catalogue of urgent matters, i.e. matters that should be resolved without delay.

Earlier, such matters included cases such as juvenile cases, domestic violence cases or detention sessions.

Under the current legal regime, these will also include all criminal cases in which detention or pre-trial detention has been applied, as well as those concerning the conditional discontinuation of proceedings and the execution of a conditionally suspended sentence and, e.g. for consent to a medical procedure.

Urgent matters will also include hearings of witnesses in proceedings regarding sexual offenses which will allow proceedings to be conducted irrespectively of whether the suspect has already been detained.

See also: Shield 3.0 – key assumptions

Resumption of deadlines

Anti-Crisis Shield 3.0 abolishes the suspension of procedural and court deadlines, e.g. for appealing against a ruling or filing a pleading with court, introduced during the epidemic. This means that if the deadlines have been suspended, they will continue to run, and if the deadlines have not yet started, they will start running.

Pursuant to the provisions of the Anti-Crisis Shield 3.0, the resumption of deadlines will take place within seven days of its entry into force, i.e. from 23 May 2020.

Extending the rights of notaries

Pursuant to new shield regulations, notaries are entitled to print electronic documents issued by a public entity, e.g. copies of civil status records or documents issued by bodies keeping records of land and buildings, delivered via electronic platform of public administration services (ePUAP).

Authors: 

Grzegorz Witczak
Director of the Commercial Law and Property Department, Advocate
TGC Corporate Lawyers

Klaudia Szatan 
Junior Associate 
TGC Corporate Lawyers

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