Katarzyna Małaniuk

Attorney at law (Poland)
Senior Associate, Manager
Phone: +48 61 624 49 69

The Polish lower chamber of parliament (Sejm) passed an act amending the Code of Civil Procedure and certain other acts on 4 July 2019. The amendment modifies nearly 300 articles of the Code of Civil Procedure (CCP) and most of them come into force on 7 November 2019.

The lawmakers took heed of the specific nature of business dealings and the professional character of enterprises and restored a separate procedure for commercial matters.

The changes are meant to speed up and streamline the processing of commercial matters. However, given how formalised such procedures are, businesses should take steps already in their day-to-day operations to increase their chances for a quick win in a court dispute.

The range of business matters

In addition to restoring matters that were already treated as commercial in the past, the lawmakers have extended the catalogue of commercial matters to include disputes:

arising from leasing agreements,

arising from construction contracts and contracts supporting the construction process,

against individuals liable for the enterprise's debts, also under auxiliary or joint and several liability, by law or contract (e.g. suretyship).

Disputes over the following issues will not be treated as commercial matters:

  • distribution of shared assets among partners in a civil law partnership after it ceases to exist,
  • a claim acquired from a non-enterprise entity, unless the claim arose from a legal relationship connected with a business activity conducted by all parties to the relationship.

Agreement on evidence

One novelty in the legislation is the agreement on evidence. Enterprises that do business with each other may agree to exclude certain evidence from the pending or any potential future litigation.

If the agreement is concluded in a valid manner, such an enterprise will not be able to use in court evidence specified in the agreement, e.g. witness testimony or e-mail correspondence. 

An agreement on evidence may be incorporated into another agreement and may apply to a specific legal relationship between the enterprises. An agreement on evidence cannot be general and may not cover all matters between enterprises or relate to unlawful acts. We suggest reading your new contracts carefully because after 7 November 2019 they might be interpreted as including provisions of an agreement on evidence.

An agreement on evidence must be made in writing – verbal agreements are admitted only if made before the court. 

You can sign several further agreements on evidence, but you should be mindful that if they are contradictory, there will be doubts as to which one is applicable.

It's all about the document

Generally, enterprises will be able to prove that they have acquired, lost or changed their rights in a business relationship with another party only on the basis of documents.

Documents in this context include not only documents as the term is popularly understood, but also any data carrier on which information may be recorded such as:

  • hard drive,
  • flash memory,
  • cloud computing.

Witness testimony

Witness testimonies have long protracted commercial litigations. Under the new rules, witnesses may testify only if other evidence turns out insufficient.

Written testimony

The amendment allows written witness testimony if the court considers it sufficient.

As a rule, the court at the pre-trial stage will design the case schedule and point out which evidence will be admitted and which will not. 

In view of the changes described above, enterprises should adjust their business practices to the new CCP rules as soon as possible. They should especially document their business dealings with other parties and take other necessary actions to win potential court disputes.

After 7 November 2019, businesses will need to go an extra mile to prepare for a trial and take part in pre-trial proceedings before the court.

If you have any questions or doubts about our recommended actions, please contact Rödl & Partner’s experts.

Katarzyna Małaniuk