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Dispute Resolution in Poland Issues and new developments in dispute resolution in Poland.

A welcome minor change

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The beginning of the year is often a time when numerous changes in law occur. It is no different this year. On 1 January 2017 entered into force the Act on amendments to certain acts to improve the legal environment of businesses (Journal of Laws 2016.2255). This is one of the package of 18 acts of “100 changes for companies”, which consists of the first stage of the Responsible Development Plan, implementing solutions to facilitate economic activity in various areas. This is an important act, because it amends 20 different acts, ranging from the civil code and the labour code, through the code of commercial companies law, construction law, environmental law to tax law, and even the law on the Anti Corruption Office.

The Act among other things changes Art. 115 of the civil code, of which the current wording states:
If the end of the period for carrying out the activities falls on a day declared a public holiday or on
a Saturday, the period expires on the following day which is not a public holiday or
a Saturday.” (changes are underlined).

This change, seemingly small, is significant for the daily civil-procedural practice and has long been postulated and awaited. It clears up the dualism that in fact existed for many years concerning the calculation of time limits for the taking of procedural steps, because deadlines were differently calculated in civil proceedings than in administrative proceedings. The dispute concerned the issue of how to treat Saturday, i.e. is Saturday a public holiday, or not. The problem resulted from the fact that the issue was inconsistently treated in the jurisprudence of the Supreme Court and the Supreme Administrative Court, as well as due to the lack of consistency of the same legislator. On the one hand we had virtually identical statutory provisions: Art. 115 of the civil code and Art. 57 § 4 of the code of administrative procedure , and on the other, unwanted, radically different judicial interpretations of these provisions. And thus in administrative proceedings as a result of evolving case law it is assumed that Saturday is aligned with the public holidays recognized as free from work, while in civil proceedings it is the opposite. The Supreme Court took the view that in Poland holidays are defined by the statute (the Act on public holidays; Journal of Laws 2015.90 u.t.) and that Saturday is not such a day. The chaos deepened further due to provisions of the tax code and the law on proceedings before the administrative courts, which directly treat Saturday as a day equated with
a public holiday .

In practice, this caused unnecessary complications, as well as the difficult to explain less favorable position of the parties in civil proceedings, resulting in the actual shortening of the period for actions by at least two days. Therefore, the harmonization of the rules in this matter is welcomed.

[1] Art. 115 CC: “If the end date of implementation of activities falls on a recognized public holiday, the period expires the next day.”

Art. 57 § 4 CoAP: “If the end of the period falls on a public holiday, the last day of the period is considered to be the closest to the next weekday.”

[2] Art. 12 § 5 of the tax code: “If the last day of the period falls on a Saturday or public holiday, the last day of the period is deemed to be the following day after the day or days off from work, unless the tax laws provide otherwise.”

 Art. 83 § 2 of the law on proceedings before administrative courts: “If the last day of the period falls on a Saturday or public holiday, the last day of the period is deemed to be the following day after the day or days off from work.”