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Katowice Court of Appeal order dated 7 March 2014 Case No. I ACz 121/14

1. The regulations of Title III, Part Five, of the Civil Procedure Code, concerning arbitration, clearly adopt the principle of the priority of the mutual intent of the parties as to the composition of the arbitral tribunal and the manner of appointment of the arbitrators and the presiding arbitrator.

2. Appointment of the presiding arbitrator by the arbitrators may occur after the end of the one-month period following their appointment provided in the act, but before consideration of the application by the state court. … Because the basis for the Civil Procedure Code regulations concerning arbitration is to award priority to the intent of the parties, it would be groundless, irrational and contrary to a purposive interpretation of these regulations to deny the parties the right to decide for themselves on the composition of the arbitral tribunal solely because a court case is already pending concerning this—prior to issuance of a judicial ruling. The one-month period under Civil Procedure Code Art. 1171 §2 should be regarded as establishing the right of a party to file an application to the state court for appointment of an arbitrator or presiding arbitrator, and not as a preclusive period after which the parties lose the right to decide for themselves on whom to appoint as members of the arbitral tribunal.

Publication date: 07-03-2014 | Case no.: I ACz 121/14

Key issues: arbitration procedure, arbitrator

id: 20412

Polish Supreme Court judgment dated 13 February 2014 Case No. V CSK 45/13

1. Application by the arbitration court of the substantive law applicable in the case is subject to review by the common court only insofar as required by the evaluation of the arbitration award, made by the court on its initiative, under the public policy clause set forth in Civil Procedure Code Art. 1206 §2(2), in terms of the award’s possible inconsistency with fundamental principles of the Polish legal system.

2. Alongside the principles of freedom of contract and the enforceability of contracts, the fundamental principles of the Polish legal system also include principles setting the boundaries of the freedom of contract and, in consequence, the limits of application of the principle of enforceability of contracts. These are more specifically the principle of business freedom, the principle of contractual fairness, and the principle of the compensatory nature of liability in damages, interpreted in compliance with the constitutional requirement of proportionality (Constitution Art. 31(3)), opposing inclusion in contracts of monetary consideration as a sanction for violation of an obligation in an amount far removed from the dimension of the loss, so that it becomes primarily a quasi-penal measure and leads to enrichment of the other party.

3. The reduction of the agreed contractual penalty by the arbitration court did not display the features of an arbitrary limitation of the legal consequences of providing for the contractual penalty, but fell within the bounds of statutory authority.

4. Any irregularities in application of Civil Code Art. 484 §2 by the arbitration court not resulting in the inconsistency of the award issued by it with the fundamental principles of the legal system could not be relevant in proceedings to set aside the award.

Publication date: 13-02-2014 | Case no.: V CSK 45/13

Key issues: arbitration award, petition to set aside arbitration award

id: 20381

Gdańsk Appellate Court order dated 11 February 2014 Case No. I ACz 1475/13

1. Because the [New York] Convention exhaustively governs the grounds for recognition and enforcement of a foreign arbitration award (Art. V of the Convention), the Polish court may not resort to Art. 1215 § 2 in connection with Art. 1214 § 3 (2) of the Civil Procedure Code.

2. The arbitrator’s and counsel’s membership in the same barristers’ chambers does not automatically constitute a source of a conflict of interest but should be considered on a case-by-case basis.

3. In a proceeding for enforcement of a foreign arbitration award, the public policy clause cannot take the place of the procedure for appointment of an arbitrator which the party to the arbitration proceeding declined to follow and which served to reduce the risk of abuse of non-meritorious objections concerning the independence and impartiality of the arbitrator after the completion of the arbitration proceeding.

Publication date: 11-02-2014 | Case no.: I ACz 1475/13

Key issues: arbitrator, New York Convention, recognition and enforcement of foreign arbitration award

id: 20190

Polish Supreme Court judgment dated 6 February 2014 Case No. I CSK 191/13

The state court hearing a petition to set aside an arbitration award may consider whether in the specific case there were valid grounds justifying a departure [by the arbitration court] from the rule of being bound by a legally final judgment, and reference to the circumstances permitting reopening of proceedings before a state court should be helpful in this respect. … From the point of view of the grounds for reopening proceedings, there is nothing preventing new factual circumstances from being disclosed as a result of actions conducted by an expert in a different case, after the end of the proceeding that would be reopened. It is essential that they be circumstances that already existed during the course of the completed proceeding.

Publication date: 06-02-2014 | Case no.: I CSK 191/13

Key issues: arbitration award, petition to set aside arbitration award

id: 20384

Warsaw Court of Appeal judgment dated 15 January 2014 Case No. VI ACa 663/13

1. An arbitrator must not be connected to any of the parties to the proceeding; he should be free of any obligations and pressures, and in performing the duties of arbitrator should decide solely in accordance with his own determination, based on the material gathered in the case. Disclosure of such circumstances must be made promptly after the person is appointed as arbitrator or the circumstances arise. [Civil Procedure Code Art. 1174 §1] also refers to circumstances that could raise doubts as to the impartiality or independence of the arbitrator, not circumstances that do raise doubts.

2. The opposing party, and the not the arbitrator, is given the right to make an assessment of whether the circumstances disclosed by the arbitrator raise doubts or not, and potentially to initiate the procedure pursuant to Civil Procedure Code Art. 1176 §§ 3 and 4, including filing of an application to the state court to remove the arbitrator. It must be clearly stressed, however, that the existence of circumstances that could raise a doubt as to the independence or impartiality of an arbitrator is not equivalent to a finding of a lack of impartiality or independence of the person appointed as arbitrator.

3. The right to make a setoff is a subjective right of the holder and cannot be limited in its realization. Asserting this objection is also a procedural form of the respondent’s defence against the claimant, which it cannot be deprived of. In considering the defence of setoff asserted by the respondent as part of the examination of the justification for the principal claim, the arbitration court did not have to condition this examination on the existence of an arbitration clause in this respect.

4. The jurisdiction of the court considering a petition to set aside an arbitration award generally does not include review of the consistency of the award with substantive law or an examination of the correctness of the factual findings, other than a ruling based on a clearly selective and unobjective assessment of the evidence. Here, the grounds for the arbitration award are extensive, multifaceted and based on the indicated evidence, and explain the basis for the finding by the arbitration court that the claim for damages by the principal respondent asserted as a setoff to the claim of the principal claimant existed in the specified amount and the effectiveness of the setoff made, which resulted in denial of the principal claim. Examination of the justification for the petition is therefore not equivalent to substantive review of the award. Moreover, the appellant must remember that in deciding to submit the dispute for resolution by an arbitration court, it must be aware of both the positive and negative consequences. On one hand, the contracting parties are not exposed to the risk of lengthy proceedings, but on the other hand they waive certain procedural guarantees which apply in proceedings before the state court. Nor was there any barrier to the proceedings before the arbitration court being conducted in two instances (Civil Procedure Code Art. 1205 §2).

Publication date: 15-01-2014 | Case no.: VI ACa 663/13

Key issues: arbitration agreement, arbitration procedure, arbitrator, petition to set aside arbitration award

id: 20388

Łódź Court of Appeal judgment Dated 12 December 2013 Case No. I ACa 692/13

1. In a situation where the parties did not reach agreement on establishing the rules for the appellate proceedings and how they would be conducted, the arbitration court, in light of the parties’ intent clearly expressed in the arbitration clause, inconsistent with the rules in force at the arbitration court, should have either refused to accept the case for consideration or, pursuant to Civil Procedure Code Art. 1184 §2, conducted the appellate proceedings in the manner it saw fit.

2. In a situation of inconsistency between the arbitration agreement calling for two instances of arbitration proceedings and the rules of the arbitration court calling for one instance, priority should be accorded to the intention of the parties, and thus the arbitration clause. As the parties first mutually agreed on the rule of two instances before the arbitration court they selected, and second, failed only to agree on the rules for procedure at the second instance, the arbitration court was obligated to establish these rules itself.

3. As the parties referred to proceedings at two instances in the arbitration clause, failure to comply with this requirement by the arbitration court must be regarded as a violation of fundamental rules of procedure before the arbitration court (Civil Procedure Code Art. 1206 §1), resulting in granting the petition and setting aside the challenged award.

Publication date: 12-12-2013 | Case no.: I ACa 692/13

Key issues: arbitration agreement, arbitration procedure, petition to set aside arbitration award

id: 20404

Polish Supreme Court judgment dated 28 November 2013 Case No. IV CSK 187/13

1. Because an arbitration award may be set aside only for grounds set forth in the law which are generally considered at the court’s own motion, while, with the exception of the invalidity of the proceedings before the court of second instance, a cassation appeal is considered within the bounds of the grounds stated for the cassation appeal, a cassation appeal in a proceeding seeking to set aside an arbitration award may — apart from the instance of invalidity of the proceedings before the court of second instance — be granted only if one of the grounds asserted in the cassation appeal is upheld containing an allegation which justifies or may justify a finding of grounds for setting aside the arbitration award asserted in the petition to set aside the award or considered at the court’s own motion.

2. The separate listing of the circumstances [in Civil Procedure Code Art. 1206 § 1 (2), (4) and (5)] as grounds for setting aside an arbitration award leads to the conclusion that they are excluded from the scope of application of the public policy clause.

3. For the arbitration court to conduct the proceeding ignoring the proffer of evidence, when the party has not given up introduction of the evidence and the evidence was necessary for resolution of the case, will constitute a violation of [the second sentence of Civil Procedure Code Art. 1183], setting forth one of the fundamental principles of arbitration procedure.

Publication date: 28-11-2013 | Case no.: IV CSK 187/13

Key issues: arbitration procedure, petition to set aside arbitration award

id: 20158

Gdańsk Court of Appeal judgment dated 28 November 2013 Case No. I ACa 550/13

1. The view cannot be shared that in connection with the dispute that had arisen the contractor should have brought about the appointment of a dispute adjudication board and presented the dispute to it, and the consequence of failure to take such actions is the loss of the possibility of effectively pursuing the claim. The section [of the FIDIC contract conditions] on Claims, Disputes and Arbitration does not provide for such sanctions.

2. In proceedings before the arbitration court the arbitrators are not bound by decisions of the [FIDIC] dispute adjudication board, whose decisions should be treated as evidence in the case. The decision by the dispute adjudication board cannot be treated analogously to an arbitration award, nor is the proceeding before the board a part of the proceeding before the arbitration court.

3. The contracting entity was properly informed of the need to perform additional works and did not dispute the need to perform them. It thus may not effectively allege that payment for such works violates fundamental principles of the legal order because public monies were involved in financing the works.

Publication date: 28-11-2013 | Case no.: I ACa 550/13

Key issues: arbitration procedure, jurisdiction of arbitral tribunal, petition to set aside arbitration award

id: 20396

Polish Supreme Court order dated 7 November 2013 Case No. V CSK 545/12

1. Under the circumstances of the specific case, it is essential that the parties making an arbitration clause fulfilled the requirements set forth in Civil Procedure Code Art. 1161 §1 to adequately identify the subject matter of the arbitration clause. Precise determination of this must adequately identify the legal relationship which is subject to submission to the arbitration court for consideration.

2. Submission to an arbitration court of disputes arising out of a contractual relationship demarcates its authority to determine the existence, effectiveness and validity of the contract, any claims for performance of the contract, claims arising in the event of non-performance or improper performance of the contract, claims for restoration of consideration provided without foundation which arise in the event of the ineffectiveness of the contract or renunciation of the contract, tort claims if they arise out of an event which constitutes non-performance or improper performance of the contract, and, depending on the parties’ agreement, disputes arising against the background of a settlement concluded with respect to a claim arising out of the contract which contained an arbitration clause.

3. An arbitration clause concerns the broadly understood jurisdiction of the court to consider a case, and its fundamental effect is exclusion of the jurisdiction of the state courts in favour of the authority of the arbitration court. It therefore falls within the broadly understood functional definition of a procedural act, highlighting its subject matter and effects and the assumption that procedural acts should not be limited to unilateral acts.

4. There are exceptions to the rule that an arbitration clause is binding on the parties that made it, including exceptions concerning expansion of the bounds of the arbitration clause to include persons who are legal successors of the parties, under general as well as specific grounds, within the legal relationship submitted to consideration by the arbitration court.

5. The scope of examination of a court considering the defence of an arbitration clause which if granted would result in dismissal of the statement of claim (Civil Procedure Code Art. 1165 §1) includes not only determination of the fact of existence of the agreement submitting the dispute to consideration by the arbitration court, but also whether the plaintiff’s claim, as expressed in the relief sought and the factual allegations in support of the claim, falls within the subjective and objective scope of the agreement. The necessity to consider this defence at the stage before joining issue on the merits of the case cannot be regarded as meaning that it is impermissible to address any substantive legal issues at all. If therefore the allegation that the claim asserted in the statement of claim falls within the scope of an arbitration clause requires examination of the content of the contract and the mutual intent of the parties that concluded it, the court may not decline to make such findings and resolve these issues.

Publication date: 07-11-2013 | Case no.: V CSK 545/12

Key issues: arbitration agreement, jurisdiction of arbitral tribunal

id: 20226

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