The Warsaw Court of Appeals recently determined whether an arbitral tribunal violated public policy when it dismissed a respondent's counterclaim that the original claim lacked locus standi. The case will have a significant impact on parties that are pursuing a claim in arbitration and want to assign it in the course of the proceedings. Such parties should be careful in making this decision and secure their position contractually.
The Polish courts rarely confirm violations of procedural law. In two recent cases, the appellate courts found that procedural errors in arbitration were grave enough to justify setting aside the awards in question. These cases are interesting, especially from the perspective of arbitrators. Arbitrators must be careful in verifying whether they have ruled on a case exactly as it was brought before them. The consequences of a mistake in this respect can be serious.
Arbitration does not provide for legal aid or an exemption from paying costs. Some regard this as a disadvantage of alternative dispute resolution. One party's lack of funds to pay for its share of arbitration costs can indeed deprive it of its day in arbitration court. This issue recently came before the Warsaw Court of Appeals, which decided that a party's lack of funds to launch arbitration does not render the arbitration agreement defective.
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.
The Office of Competition and Consumer Protection (UOKiK) recently announced the launch of two anti-monopoly proceedings against Polsat Television and four Discovery Group entities. According to the UOKiK, these companies may have abused their dominant position on the TV channel distribution market to the detriment of cable TV operators and ultimately consumers by way of bundled sales of TV channels.
In 2020 the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection (UOKiK) fined a liquefied petroleum gas distributor Zl730,000 (€160,000) for failing to notify a takeover. At the same time, the UOKiK imposed a Zl120,000 (€26,800) penalty on an industrial gas supplier for lack of cooperation following an information request in the context of merger market research.
In 2020 the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection (UOKiK) closed an inquiry into a marketing association with commitments. The association obliged branding agencies to resign from tenders in which no remuneration was due for a creative process (eg, the presentation of a poster or packaging design) – the so-called 'rejection fee'. The UOKiK stated that this deprived members of their independence in making decisions and limited their freedom.
After the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection (UOKiK) fined Gazprom Zl213 million (€48 million) for withholding information in a probe concerning a joint venture to build and operate the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, the Russian gas company announced that it had appealed the fine. Several companies tried to get approval from the UOKiK to set up a joint venture to build and operate Nord Stream 2, but the agency expressed concerns that the concentration could restrict competition.
In 2020 the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection (UOKiK) fined Gazprom and five other firms engaged in the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline a record €6.5 billion for concluding agreements without the authority's consent. The UOKiK held that the completion of the project would be a breach of competition rules, resulting in an increased dependence of gas recipients on Gazprom in the internal market. Gazprom has appealed the fine.
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.
Ongoing monitoring of the latest legislative changes is an essential part of HR departments' work. To help employers, this article highlights the most significant legislative changes so far in 2021, including with regard to blood donors being awarded an additional day off work, the extension of the additional carers' allowance and the National Labour Inspectorate's inspection plan for 2021.
This article presents a brief summary of the key changes that employers and employees will have to face in 2021, including with regard to the increase in the minimum wage, the obligation to notify contracts for specific work, remote working, COVID-19 vaccination and audits relating to use of anti-crisis shield instruments.
Without a doubt, the COVID-19 pandemic dominated 2020, affected the business world and forced employers to adapt to new conditions. The legislative work of 2020 focused mainly on counteracting the COVID-19 pandemic's impact by supporting employers and preserving jobs. This article presents a brief summary of the key changes that employers and employees had to face in the difficult year of 2020.
During the COVID-19 pandemic many companies have decided to let their employees work from home. However, the issue of remote work is often problematic for Polish employers as it is not regulated in the Labour Code, which regulates only telework. The current regulations have not kept up with the changing circumstances and therefore pose difficulties regarding interpretation for employers. Employers should be careful and monitor both the situation and opinions presented by officials.
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).