Anna Główka

Attorney at law (Poland)
Phone: +48 22 244 00 51

The Constitution says that the consumer rights should be guarded by public authorities. The protection measures have also been regulated in acts of law, and the most recent amendment of them deals with the settlement of disputes arising between consumers and enterprises out of consumer agreements. On 4 November 2016, the President of the Republic of Poland signed the Act of 23 September 2016 on out-of-court settlement of consumer disputes (Journal of Laws of 2016, Item 1823) which transposes the EU law to the domestic system by implementing the Directive 2013/11/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 May 2013 on alternative dispute resolution for consumer disputes and amending Regulation (EC) No 2006/2004 and Directive 2009/22/EC (Directive on consumer ADR).

In the course of proceedings to resolve a consumer dispute a relevant authorised entity ("ADR entity") will help to find a common denominator between the parties, present the parties with a proposal of dispute settlement, or even will resolve the dispute and force the parties to respect the ruling. The Act will apply to domestic and cross-border disputes arising out of agreements (also those concluded on the Internet) between consumers residing in Poland or in another EU Member State and an enterprise established in Poland. ADR entities will be disclosed in the relevant register kept by the President of the Office for Competition and Consumer Protection (Polish abbreviation: "UOKiK"). 

The proceedings will be initiated at the request of a consumer, and if the relevant rules of procedure of the ADR entity allow – also at the request of an enterprise. The proceedings are to be free of charge for consumers. However, the rules of procedure of ADR entities may provide for fees to be collected from them (nonetheless, their total amount must not significantly impair consumers' access to out-of-court dispute settlement), which does not make the consumer immune from charges for actions taken at his request in the course of the out-of-court settlement. The proceedings will be conducted in electronic or paper form and the ADR entity must present the outcome to the parties within 90 days of the day when the request to initiate the proceedings is delivered (in the case of a very complex dispute that time limit may be extended).

The Act imposes also some obligations on enterprises, especially information obligations towards consumers. Enterprises will have the right to choose the ADR entity (from among those listed in the relevant register) competent for resolving disputes between enterprises and consumers. The choice will be among public and non-public entities, so it is a mixed system. An enterprise which voluntarily joins the system of out-of-court settlement of consumer disputes or which is obliged to join it under separate regulations will, among other things, have to inform consumers about the ADR entity competent for resolving disputes with that enterprise. The information has to include at least the website address of the ADR entity and must be provided in a clear, comprehensible and consumer-friendly way (for example, on the enterprise's website, in the templates of contracts which the enterprise concludes with consumers, if it uses any).

The Act will not apply, among other things, to disputes related to non-economic services (of general interest), disputes arising out of contracts for healthcare services provided to patients by healthcare professionals, including the prescription, dispensation and provision of medicinal products and medical devices, regardless of whether or not they are offered through healthcare establishments. The aim of these measures is to introduce a unified Community system of resolving disputes between enterprises and consumers. 

Generally, the Act is going to enter into force 2 months after its publication in the Journal of Laws of the Republic of Poland, that is on 10 January 2017. Hopefully, the mechanisms provided in the new Act will indeed help to resolve disputes between enterprises and consumers as fast as possible.

We would be glad to provide you with more information if you are interested in this or other issues. Our attorneys-in-law and tax advisors also offer legal advice in Poland and tax advice in Poland on other issues. They are at your disposal in Rödl & Partner offices in: Gdansk, Gliwice, Cracow, Poznan, Warsaw, Wroclaw.

30.12.2016 r.