The assignment of rights and obligations stemming from an agreement forms part of everyday business. This issue can become complicated if a transferred claim is covered by an arbitration agreement. A recent Supreme Court decision shows that in such a case, the assignee and the debtor must resolve their disputes through arbitration. This decision confirms the arbitration-friendly approach of the Polish courts, especially regarding the validity and scope of arbitration agreements.
Merger control is one of the Polish Office for Competition and Consumer Protection's main areas of activity, as it deals with 170 to 220 filings annually. Recent notable developments in this regard include proceedings initiated against Gazprom and its five partners involved in the financing and construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline and the unconditional approval of Cyfrowy Polsat's takeover of Netia.
The Polish legislature is in the process of implementing the EU Trade Secrets Directive. The new legislation is considered to be generally compliant with the directive and is likely to come into force on June 9 2018. While the legislature should be praised for its attempt to implement the directive on time, work appears to be progressing too quickly in order to discover and eliminate possible deficiencies and guarantee the directive's full implementation.
Almost eight months after the Act on Counteracting the Unfair Use of Contractual Advantage in Trade of Agricultural and Food Products came into effect, the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection (OCCP) issued a decision regarding Cykoria SA's abusive practices. The case was closed with a commitment decision, which is unlikely to be appealed. Therefore, the courts will not provide their assessment of the OCCP's interpretation of some of the vaguer terms used in the act.
A recent Rzeszow Appellate Court ruling has confirmed that a European account preservation order (EAPO) can be issued by a state court to secure claims which have been submitted by the parties to arbitration. The case concerned a request for arbitration following a lack of fulfilment of contractual obligations. The request was followed by a petition to a regional court requesting that an EAPO be issued against the respondent in the pending arbitration.
In a recent antitrust judgment, the Supreme Court provided an additional explanation of its approach to calculating fines in cases of collusion concerning resale prices (ie, resale price maintenance). Further, for the first time in its judicial practice, the Supreme Court provided general remarks concerning the privilege against self-incrimination that alleged infringers may claim.
The Code of Commercial Companies provides that the supervisory board of a limited liability company cannot give binding instructions regarding the management of the company's affairs to its managers. As there is no similar explicit provision prohibiting a shareholders' meeting from issuing such instructions, the question arises as to whether this was an intentional omission by the legislature and whether managers of limited liability companies must follow instructions given by shareholders.
Social security contributions in Poland are significant, particularly in the case of highly paid managers. As a result, it is common practice for managers to perform their duties as self-employed persons under management contracts. A recent Supreme Court decision confirmed that management contracts can still be performed by self-employed managers and that such business activity constitutes a basis for social security insurance if the manager is not a management board member.
There is an urgent need to improve the collective management system in Poland. The recent proposed introduction of the extended collective licensing model offers a chance to solve the existing legal and practical problems, but any such change should be considered and consistent with the whole collective management system in order to avoid further complications and the creation of new weaknesses in the legal framework.
Cases involving allegations against the appointment, impartiality or independence of abitrators are usually complicated and it is difficult to make any firm statements, save for obvious cases of bias. A recent Court of Appeals decision set aside an International Chamber of Commerce award due to the fact that, among other things, one party's rights had allegedly been infringed when the sole arbitrator was selected in the course of the proceedings.
Parties that negotiate a contract for sale when they are based in different countries are not always aware of the legal nature of their negotiations and the possible legal consequences. As such, it is advisable that parties choose the law applicable to the contract being negotiated and the negotiations themselves as soon as discussions begin. In the event of a dispute, this will enable them to avoid the potential risk of the courts finding that the contract in question has already been concluded.
The Supreme Court recently ruled that an employer can demand that an employee inform it of any additional activities that he or she undertakes during the employment period. If the employee fails to do so, this can justify his or her employment contract being terminated upon notice. The judgment confirms the court's existing position in this regard. However, the court's second conclusion concerning data protection is new and may raise doubts regarding its compliance with the Labour Code.
There is a need for Polish patent law to provide for an explicit procedure that allows for the amendment of patent claims during invalidity proceedings. Although two theoretical options exist, the lack of well-established case law means that their viability remains uncertain. However, it is hoped that the admissibility of these options will be assessed by the Patent Office and the courts in the near future, as patent holders have become more interested in exploiting less obvious means of defending their patents.
The Warsaw Court of Competition and Consumer Protection recently delivered a significant judgment regarding the collection of electronic evidence during unannounced inspections conducted by the Office for Competition and Consumer Protection. As a result, documents stored on hard drives and emails of managers and employees must now be reviewed by officials on the inspected company's premises.
Shareholder activism has grown in popularity in recent decades due to leading law firms specialising in the implementation of available shareholder activism strategies, and the role of hedge funds and related services constitutes a significant niche in the legal services market. Under Polish legislation, various forms of shareholder activism can be applied.
A recent Supreme Court case found that an arbitral tribunal did not violate public policy by reducing an agent's claim for commission against a football club. In addition to setting a precedent in the field of sports law, the decision is important for arbitration practitioners as it confirms that intervention in the arbitral process on the grounds of public policy is limited to the most severe violations of Polish law.
By assumption, the process of merging capital companies is advantageous from the point of view of the merging companies and their shareholders. However, sometimes a shareholder may receive fewer shares in the acquiring company than he or she should have. In such a context, the question that arises is whether the protection of shareholders' interests against an unfavourable share exchange rate is possible under Polish law and, if so, how it can be accomplished.
The legislature recently adopted changes that could be of major importance for entities that provide IT systems to the courts and judicial authorities. According to the Act amending the Act on the Common Court System, the minister of justice will acquire the right to decide unilaterally whether judicial authorities can use software if an important state or justice interest requires an efficiency of performance or continuity of operation and an agreement with a copyright holder is troublesome.
Third-party arbitration funding has not yet become popular in Poland, but its growing importance in the field of international arbitral practice means that it is gradually entering the Polish market. In particular, foreign sponsors are willing to cover a party's legal fees and expenses incurred in arbitration, as the Polish market is still developing and such investment is needed.
International contracts are often concluded via email. This practice requires a more liberal approach to the form of arbitration agreements under the New York Convention. However, the convention is silent on the form in which an agent's authorisation (ie, power of attorney) to enter into an arbitration agreement must be made. A recent Supreme Court decision confirms that under Polish law, such authorisation is required and should be made in an equal manner to that required to conclude the agreement itself.