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In principle, the Polish Code of Civil Procedure (hereinafter : CCP) does not provide for mandatory representation by a lawyer. The parties and their authorities or statutory representatives may act before the court in person or via attorneys-in-fact. In accordance with Article 871 CCP, mandatory representation by a lawyer applies to proceedings before the Supreme Court. In such proceedings, a party may act only via a lawyer or a legal adviser. One exception to this obligation concerns an application for exemption from court costs and the appointment of a lawyer or a legal adviser ex officio.
A court action may be brought by an individual who has full legal capacity, or by a legal person or social organisation permitted to act under the law, even without legal personality. An individual acquires legal capacity at the age of 18. An individual who has no legal capacity may carry out procedural actions only through the statutory representative. Legal persons and other organisations that have capacity to act in court carry out procedural actions via the bodies authorised to act on their behalf. Such bodies are obliged to prove their authority to act by means of a document, to be presented when the first procedural action is carried out.
The court may temporarily allow a person who has no court or litigious capacity or a person who does not have the appropriate statutory authority, to act, provided that before the expiry of the prescribed time limit any shortcomings are remedied and the actions are approved by the person appointed for that purpose. For a party who has no litigious capacity or a statutory representative and for a party who has no authority appointed to represent it, the court will, at the request of the opposing party, appoint a court custodian, if the party is undertaking an urgent procedural action against the other party.
In accordance with Article 87 CCP, an attorney-in-fact may be a lawyer or a legal adviser, and in industrial property cases also a patent agent and, in addition, a person managing the assets or interests of the party and a person under a permanent contract with the party, if the subject matter of the case falls within the scope of that contract, a co-participant in a dispute, as well as the parents, spouse, siblings or descendants of the party and persons related to the party by adoption.
The attorney-in-fact of a legal person or an undertaking, including those without legal personality, can also be an employee of such an entity or its superior authority. A legal person providing, pursuant to separate provisions of law, legal services to an undertaking, a legal person or other organisational entity, may grant a power of attorney ad litem, on behalf of the entity to which it is providinglegal services, to a lawyer or a legal adviser, if authorised to do so by that entity.
In paternity and alimony cases, the attorney-in-fact can also be a representative of a local government authority responsible for social welfare or a social organisation whose aim is to support families.
In cases relating to the operation of an agricultural holding, the attorney-in-fact of the farmer can also be a representative of an association of individual farmers of which the farmer in question is a member.
In cases relating to consumer protection, the attorney-in-fact may be a representative of the organisation whose statutory tasks include consumer protection.
In cases relating to the protection of industrial property, the attorney-in-fact of the author of an invention proposal can also be a representative of an organisation whose statutory tasks include support to industrial property and assistance to authors of invention proposals.
You apply to the court by filing the statement of claim (procedural writ) in the court building, at the day-book office or by sending the same by post.
The statement of claim and other procedural writs must be filed in Polish or must be accompanied by a translation into Polish.
The statement of claim should be made in writing. An exception is cases relating to employment law and social security, where the employee or insured party acting without a lawyer or a legal adviser, may submit the lawsuit and the contents of any appeal and other procedural writs verbally to the court with jurisdiction, for the record (Article 466 CCP).
Official forms are required in cases listed in Article 1871-2 CCP and in summary proceedings (see file relating to summary proceedings).
Even if the statement of claim (procedural writ) is sent in by e-mail or fax, it should subsequently be also filed at the day-book office of the court or sent in by post.
The action is brought by filing a statement of claim. The statement of claim should comply with the requirements of a procedural writ (Articles 125 to 128 CCP) and should contain the additional elements provided for in Article 187 et seq. CCP.
A procedural writ should contain in particular:
Pursuant to Article 187 CCP, the statement of claim should also include:
The statement of claim can also include:
Under the Act of 28 July 2005 on court costs in civil cases, court costs (these include fees and expenses) are payable by the party who submits to the court a writ subject to a fee or resulting in an expense. The fee must be paid at the time when the writ subject to a fee is lodged at the court. If the required fee is not paid, the court will not take any action (Article 1262 CCP).
Pursuant to Article 130 CCP and Article 1301 CCP, if a procedural writ cannot be processed properly for non-compliance with the formal requirements, lack of an official form or non-payment of the fee, the party will be requested to correct, supplement or pay the same within 1 week, failing which the writ will be returned to the party. If the writ has been lodged by a person residing or having a registered office abroad who has no representative in Poland, the prescribed time limit for supplementing the writ should not be shorter than one month. If no action has been taken by the time limit specified in the notice, the writ will be returned. A returned writ does not have any effects that are ascribed by law to the lodging of a procedural writ at court. A writ corrected or supplemented within the time limit is effective from the time it is lodged (Article 130 CCP).
Under Article 1302 CCP, writs affected by formal defects or not properly paid, lodged by an advocate, a legal adviser, a patent agent or, in commercial proceedings, by an undertaking, are returned without a separate notice. In principle, remedies at law or appellate measures (appeals, complaints, final complaints, applications for a legally valid decision to be declared unlawful, objections against a default judgment, pleas against a payment order, complaints against the decision of the court division official), affected by formal defects or unpaid, lodged by the aforementioned entities, are also rejected without any additional notice to supplement them.
Reimbursement of the costs of proceedings between the parties is effected in accordance with the principles laid down in Article 98 CCP to Article 110 CCP and Article 520 CCP. The basic rule under Article 98 CCP is that the party losing the case reimburses its opposing party, on request, the costs necessary for the purposeful enforcement of rights and purposeful defence (costs of proceedings). In addition, in accordance with Article 100 CCP, if demands are granted only in part, costs will be mutually written off or allocated proportionally. The court may, however, impose on one of the parties the obligation to reimburse all the costs, if the opposing party has conceded only a small part of its claim or if the determination of the amount due to it depended on a mutual settlement or the court’s assessment. In non-litigious proceedings, each participant covers the costs relating to its participation in the case. The court may award the costs on the basis of guilt or equity, if justified by the circumstances of the case.
The necessary costs of proceedings conducted by a party in person or through an attorney-in-fact other than a lawyer or a legal adviser include the court costs incurred by the party, the costs of travel to court of the party or its attorney-in-fact and the equivalent of earnings lost as a result of the party’s appearance in court. The total costs of travel and the equivalent of lost earnings may not exceed the remuneration of one lawyer practising at the seat of the court where the proceedings are pending. Necessary costs of proceedings of a party represented by a lawyer include the fee, not higher, however, than the rates set out in separate provisions, and the expenses of one lawyer, the court costs and the costs of the party’s personal appearance in court, ordered by the court (Article 98 and Article 99 CCP).
The level of court costs is regulated by the Act of 28 July 2005 on court costs in civil cases. The minimum levels of fees of lawyers and legal advisers are set by two Regulations of the Minister for Justice of 28 September 2002. Any other issues relating to the remuneration of a lawyer or a legal adviser are governed by the provisions of Article 735 et seq. of the Civil Code (CC). The fee payment deadline is set by agreement between the parties.
Exemption from court costs is governed by Articles 94 to 118 of the Act of 28 July 2005 on court costs in civil cases. Articles 94-98 of that Act list the categories of entities and cases exempt from the obligation to pay court costs by virtue of the Act. The category of entities exempt from the obligation to pay court costs includes, for example, persons seeking confirmation of paternity or applying for alimony payments.
An individual who has made a statement that he is unable to bear such court costs without detriment to the upkeep of himself or his family can also seek an exemption from such costs (Article 102). The court may grant an exemption from court costs to a legal person or to an organisational unit other than a legal person which has been granted legal capacity by law, if such person has proved that it has insufficient means to pay such costs (Article 103). In addition, in respect of social organisations not involved in business activities, the court may grant an exemption from court costs in their own cases conducted in connection with social, scientific, educational, cultural, charitable or self-help activities as regards consumer protection, environmental protection and social welfare. When granting exemption from court costs, the court takes into account, above all, the organisation’s statutory operating objectives and capabilities, as well as the need to achieve these objectives via civil proceedings.
Applications for exemption from court costs must be submitted in writing or verbally for the record at the court in which the case is to commence or is already pending. The application for exemption from court costs should be accompanied by a statement including details of the family status, assets, income and livelihood of the person seeking exemption. The statement must be made in the prescribed form. If the statement is not made or does not contain all the required data, the party is requested to remedy the shortcomings within the prescribed time limit, failing which the application is returned. Individuals whose place of residence is not within the jurisdiction of the court may apply for exemption from court costs at the district court with jurisdiction for their place of residence. The court refers such applications to the competent court without delay.
In land and mortgage registry proceedings, exemption from costs may be effected only before the application for entry in the land and mortgage register is submitted. If the application for entry into the land and mortgage register is to be made by way of a notarial deed, exemption from court costs may be granted only before such notarial deed is concluded.
Court costs which the party was not obliged to pay or which were not payable by the court custodian or public prosecutor will be charged by the court in the decision ending the case at that instance to the opposing party, if there are grounds for so doing, subject to the appropriate application of the rules governing reimbursement of the costs of proceedings. Any costs not charged to the opposing party shall be ordered by the court in the final decision ending the case at that instance to be deducted from the claim awarded to the party. In cases in which it is particularly advisable to do so, the court may refrain from charging such costs (Article 113).
Exemption from court costs does not release the party from the obligation to reimburse the costs of the proceedings to the opposing party.
Under Article 117 CCP, a party exempted in full or in part by a court from court costs or a party benefiting from the statutory exemption from costs, may submit, in writing or verbally for the record, an application for a lawyer or a legal adviser to be appointed for it ex officio. The party submits this application to the court in which the case is to be lodged or is already pending. A party whose place of residence is not within the jurisdiction of this court may submit the application to the district court with jurisdiction for his place of residence. The court shall refer such applications to the competent court without delay. Applications to appoint a lawyer or a legal adviser, submitted for the first time in appeal or final appeal proceedings, may be referred by the court for examination by the court of the first instance.
The court will accept the application, if it considers that the participation of a lawyer or a legal adviser is necessary in the case in question. The court requests the appropriate district council of lawyers or district council of legal advisers to appoint the lawyer or legal adviser. If the lawyer or legal adviser appointed in this way is to take any action outside the jurisdiction of the adjudicating court, the appropriate district council of lawyers or district council of legal advisers will, at the request of the appointed lawyer or legal adviser, appoint a lawyer or a legal adviser from another town where necessary. The submission of an application for the appointment of a lawyer or a legal adviser and the lodging of an appeal against a refusal to appoint the same, does not interrupt proceedings already pending, unless the matter relates to the appointment of a lawyer or a legal adviser as a result of a motion submitted in the statement of claim or before the action was brought. The court may, however, suspend the examination of the case until the application is determined in a legally valid way, and, consequently, may refrain from setting a date for the hearing, or may cancel or postpone a hearing which has already been set (Article 124 CCP).
Exemption from costs and the appointment of a lawyer ex officio in cross-border disputes is governed by the Act of 17 December 2004 on legal aid in proceedings in civil cases conducted in EU Member States and legal aid for the purpose of settling a dispute before such proceedings are instituted (see the sheet on legal aid).Top
Last update: 12-05-2009