The issue of arbitral tribunals' application of EU law is not new. In the 1990s the European Court of Justice (ECJ) established that a national court which receives an application to annul an arbitration award must grant such application if it considers that the award in question is contrary to EU law. In recent years, this issue was revived in investment arbitration and the ECJ's famous (or for many, infamous) Achmea judgment. A landmark decision of the Warsaw Court of Appeals is yet another chapter in this story.
The issue of an arbitral tribunal's jurisdiction over set-off claims that are not covered by an arbitration agreement is controversial, with the rules differing from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. In a recent judgment, the Warsaw Court of Appeals held that even if a set-off claim is based on an agreement that is outside the scope of an arbitration agreement, the tribunal must determine the set-off's effects on the main claim raised in the proceedings.
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 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 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.
A second-instance court has rejected PKP Cargo's appeal against a Zl14.22 million (€3.2 million) abuse of dominance fine. The Office for Competition and Consumer Protection originally imposed the fine in 2015, as it found that PKP Cargo had abused its dominant position in the domestic rail freight market by unlawfully changing the rules for the sale of freight services, allowing the company to refuse to sign special contracts with competitors.
The National Council of Agricultural Chambers recently asked the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection (UOKiK) to look into potential competition rule breaches in the soft fruit market, especially regarding the sale of gooseberries. According to gooseberry growers, the buying price of gooseberries is too low compared with the potential price of further sale. The UOKiK is set to investigate Poland's soft fruit market over suspected price fixing.
Under the Competition Act, when an undertaking is fined for being a party to a restrictive agreement, the Office for Competition and Consumer Protection (UOKiK) can impose financial penalties on the undertaking's managers. The UOKiK recently published a soft law document which provides detailed rules for determining such penalties. According to the new guidelines, fine calculations are a multi-stage process in which an array of objective and subjective criteria are taken into account.
The European Commission recently approved a state aid scheme worth Zl3.5 billion (approximately €700 million) for loans and guarantees to support the Polish economy in the context of the COVID-19 outbreak. The scheme will allow the Polish authorities to grant aid to support Polish companies affected by the COVID-19 outbreak by providing liquidity support in the form of guarantees on loans and subsidised interest rates for loans. This article addresses the new competition rules under the scheme.
The Supreme Court recently explained that the Office for Competition and Consumer Protection does not have to identify all of the parties to an anti-competitive vertical agreement in decisions issued in such cases. This matter has been the subject of debate in Poland for some time, with some commentators viewing it as a possible violation of an organiser's right to a defence. It is evident from this judgment that such arguments will be unsuccessful in the courts.
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'.
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.
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.
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.
The Code of Commercial Companies allows for mergers of both independent companies and related entities. Concerns arise when subsidiaries take over dominant companies (so-called 'reverse' or 'downstream' mergers) and the domination results in a subsidiary having a controlling shareholding package. While downstream mergers are admissible under Polish company law, a high level of uncertainty remains as to whether they will be accepted by a particular registry court.
For the past few months, legislative work has primarily focused on COVID-19. However, the anti-crisis shield is not the only issue that employers should pay attention to in the near future. On the horizon there are changes concerning the posting of employees and potential changes with respect to 'mobbing' (ie, workplace bullying).
The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in certain changes to Polish law which affect selected financial aspects of the employee ownership programmes implemented in Poland by foreign companies. The pertinent changes involve the local labour law regulations which govern salary deductions for the purpose of covering the subscription price of the financial instruments offered to local employees who participate in such programmes.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the government introduced a package of measures known as the 'anti-crisis shield'. This article summarises the employment-related measures offered under the different versions of the anti-crisis shield relief packages, covering topics such as exemptions from social security contributions, downtime relief payments and reduced working time.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the government introduced a package of measures – the so-called 'anti-crisis shield'. This article summarises the employment-related measures offered under the different versions of the anti-crisis shield relief packages covering topics such as exemptions from social security contributions, downtime relief payment and reduced working time.
The National Labour Inspectorate (NLI) has announced its inspection plan for 2020, which includes undertaking 72,000 inspections. The NLI's inspection priorities include limiting violations of working time regulations and reducing the level of fraud in the conclusion of civil law contracts with regard to conditions which are specific to employment relationships.