The Supreme Court recently held that imposing a contractual penalty on energy consumers due to the early termination of a contract for energy supply is prohibited. This latest ruling seems to change the current interpretation of the legal provisions on the possibility of imposing a contractual penalty on acceptance in the case of early termination of a contract which was concluded for a fixed period.
In economic trading, corporations on both sides of a transaction are often represented by the same person, who is often a board member of the parent. The Commercial Companies Code does not mention the admissibility of such simultaneous representation of two corporations by the same person acting as a board member. However, in the Civil Code, this situation is regulated with regard to the representation of two parties to a transaction by the same 'attorney-in-fact'.
A recent amendment to the Personal Income Tax Act and the Corporate Income Tax Act has introduced an income tax exemption for benefits received from the Low-Emission Transport Fund (ie, subsidies for purchasing e-vehicles). The Low-Emission Transport Fund was established in 2018 and is tasked with financing projects relating to the development of electromobility and transport based on alternative fuels.
Parties which lose in arbitration often continue to fight off a claim before a state court in post-arbitral proceedings, despite not having a strong case. This provides a double benefit for Polish arbitration practice: not only are a vast majority of these attempts defeated, but the Supreme Court also has a chance to confirm its pro-arbitration approach. One recent decision underlines that the mere fact that the reasoning of an arbitral award is concise is insufficient grounds to vacate the award.
The draft Promotion of Electricity Generation in Offshore Wind Farms Act was recently published on the Government Legislation Centre's website. Among other things, the proposed act aims to create a regulatory environment that encourages investors to carry out offshore wind farm projects. In turn, this will enable Poland to fulfil its obligations under the EU Promotion of Energy from Renewable Sources Directive.
The Supreme Court has previously opted for both a broad and a narrow understanding of res iudicata in Polish arbitration law. In a recent judgment, the court again leaned towards a narrow understanding of to what degree an arbitral tribunal is bound by a previous award. The decision should be a caveat for all participants in the Polish legal market that they should play until the whistle is blown.
The Law of 30 August 2019 significantly amended the Commercial Companies Code and other laws. The main change regards the general dematerialisation of shares in private joint stock companies and limited joint stock partnerships. The amendment will enter into force on 1 January 2021.
The arbitrability of corporate disputes has long been a controversial issue in Poland. Recent changes in Polish law introduced by the Act of 31 July 2019 aimed to resolve the issues surrounding and give the green light to arbitrating corporate disputes. Unfortunately, it seems that these amendments have failed to solve all of the problems and have even created additional uncertainties.
The first implementing regulations of the Act of 14 December 2018 on the Promotion of Electricity from High-Efficiency Cogeneration were published on 21 August 2019. The act aims to exploit the potential of cogeneration to improve air quality in Poland and increase the efficiency of heating and cooling systems.
Parliament recently introduced the simple joint stock company to the Commercial Companies Code. This change aims to provide a simpler and cheaper option than standard joint stock companies regarding company formation, operation and liquidation and a more modern and flexible company model with a legal personality that will be particularly attractive to start-ups. However, the introduction of this new type of company has provoked divergent opinions.
A recent Supreme Court case touched on the obligations of an arbitral tribunal which cannot base its award on party-appointed experts' opinions. In a controversial decision, the court clarified that in such cases, when both parties request a tribunal-appointed expert, the tribunal should allow such a motion and cannot merely decide against the motioning party, as this may cause it to violate its obligation to consider the case, which – according to the Supreme Court – is part of public policy.
The prime minister and the minister of the environment recently presented a new programme called My Electricity, which aims to promote the use of photovoltaics. The introduction of My Electricity is one way to achieve the government's renewable energy target (ie, 15% of energy from renewable sources by 2020); however, additional programmes that support renewable energy production are needed.
It is obvious to arbitration practitioners that an arbitral award cannot deal with claims not brought before a particular tribunal. However, it is also clear that vacating an award due to a violation of public policy should be an exceptional measure. The Supreme Court recently dealt with these two principles and leaned towards the former, setting aside a domestic award granted for interest for a different period than the one demanded by the claimant in the proceedings.
The legislature recently introduced a regulation on e-financial statements. As a result, all financial reports submitted by Polish companies (with the exception of entities preparing financial statements in compliance with the international accounting standards) must be drawn up electronically using files with an '.xml' extension as defined by the Ministry of Finance. Polish companies should take appropriate steps to mitigate the potential risks and comply with this revolutionary regulation as soon as possible.
The Commercial Company Code allows representation by a supervisory board or proxy appointed by a resolution of a shareholders' meeting in contracts or disputes between companies and their management boards. In this context, the Supreme Court recently examined whether a limited liability company should be represented by a general partner or its management board when amending a limited partnership agreement, despite the fact that the limited partner was a member of the company's management board.
Maciej Bando's five-year term of office as the President of the Energy Regulatory Office recently came to an end. A new head of the regulatory body may lead to a change of method in the execution of some competences under its administrative discretion. This change of method may be particularly visible in network and supply activities, as most of the regulations in this regard are developed by the President of the Energy Regulatory Office and other administrative bodies in the European Union.
The Act on Promoting Electricity from High-Efficiency Cogeneration recently entered into force. It establishes support mechanisms for combined heat and power (CHP) installations connected to district heating networks, which will replace the previous support scheme that expired at the end of 2018 and was based essentially on certificates of origin for energy from CHP installations.
In post-arbitral proceedings, parties challenging an unfavourable award or its enforcement often argue that they were deprived of the right to present their case or that the tribunal violated the rules of procedure or committed some other procedural error and often request the state courts to order the tribunal to present the arbitral case file. A recent Supreme Court decision evaluated the usefulness and necessity of granting such requests and clarified that such measures should be granted only rarely.
Appealing against shareholders' resolutions is one of the most controversial areas of Polish company law. A recent Supreme Court resolution found that the shareholders' resolution of a limited liability company could not be annulled by the courts just because it was contrary to the company's articles of association. This resolution appears to put an end to many years of controversy.
Parties unhappy with an arbitration award often try to question its enforcement based on public policy, raising numerous violations of law that do not amount to public policy. However, public policy is a tool that can also protect the legal system in certain situations. Two interesting Katowice Court of Appeals decisions made on the same day by the same judge in two non-related cases demonstrate how the courts deals with collusion cases.