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The Warsaw Voice » Law » October 27, 2011
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Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Court Rulings in Poland
October 27, 2011   
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If a company has obtained a court ruling in its favor from a foreign court and needs it enforced in Poland, the court ruling must be recognized by Polish courts, which can then enforce the execution of the ruling. There is a formal structure to the recognition and enforcement of foreign court rulings, and there are exceptions where rulings cannot be recognized as valid in Poland.

Polish law distinguishes between the recognition and enforcement of foreign court rulings. Recognition applies to those rulings that do not involve enforcement, i.e. those that create, establish or confirm the existence of legal rights or personal status. A court ruling that is enforceable in the country of issue, on the other hand, can be enforced in Poland on the basis of an enforcement clause issued by the Polish courts.


Procedure for recognition and enforcement
Under the provisions of the Polish Code of Civil Procedure, foreign decisions in civil cases are subject to recognition and enforcement on a reciprocal basis, i.e. if Polish court rulings are also recognized and enforceable in the country issuing the ruling. This convenient regulation means that the claimant does not have to commence new proceedings in Poland, which would mean additional costs and delays. However, there are circumstances that cause rulings not to be recognized by law. These are situations including:
i) where the ruling is not final in the country in which it was issued;
ii) where the ruling was made in a case that should be the exclusive jurisdiction of Polish courts;
iii) where the defendant did not participate in the dispute on the merits of the case, and was not properly or timely served with the statement of claim and could therefore not raise a defense; or
iv) where the defendant was deprived of the right of a defense for other reasons.

Such circumstances also apply when the same claim between the parties to a pending case in Poland is brought before the court of a foreign state. A ruling by the foreign court that is contrary to a previously issued court ruling in Poland, or a previous foreign ruling recognized by Polish courts, would be contrary to public policy in Poland.

A claimant seeking recognition or enforcement must provide at least the following:
a) a copy of the relevant court ruling;
b) if the court ruling was given in default, evidence that the party in default was served with the document instituting the proceedings; and
c) in the case of enforcement, evidence that the court ruling is enforceable and has been served in line with the law of the member state in which it was issued.

In addition, it is possible to achieve a partial recognition or enforcement of a foreign court ruling.

Recognition
As has been stated, foreign court rulings are recognized without the need to hold separate “recognition proceedings.” However, it is possible for anyone who has a legal interest to motion the court to determine whether a foreign ruling is subject to recognition or not.

Enforcement
A foreign judgment issued in a civil case and executable through enforcement, falls under the jurisdiction of a Polish court (the Regional Court for the place of residence or registered office of the debtor), which first needs to confirm its enforceability by affixing an enforcement clause on the enforcement order.

Appeals
Recognition or a refusal to recognize a foreign ruling, or issuing or refusing to issue enforcement orders can be appealed against to the court of appeals. If a party is unsatisfied after the decision of the Court of Appeals, then it may bring a cassation to the Supreme Court.

Once an enforcement order becomes final, the Regional Court issues an enforcement clause allowing the claimant to commence execution. A ruling with an enforcement clause may be executed against the debtor by the bailiff of the relevant district court.

Costs
In terms of costs for the recognition or enforcement of foreign rulings, a court fee of zl.300 must be paid when filing a request for the recognition or enforcement of a foreign award.

Piotr Sadownik, advocate, partner, head of Litigation Department at Gide Loyrette Nouel

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