Polish Supreme Court judgment
dated 22 December 1970
Case No. III CRN 327/70
Summary by arbitraz.laszczuk.pl:
In 1966, Ryszard S. obtained an arbitration award against Eugenia S. for a sum of money. The respondent filed a petition with the Warsaw County Court to set aside the award on the ground that the award was internally inconsistent and violated the rule of law and principles of social coexistence in the People’s Republic of Poland. The petition was denied. She filed an appeal with the Warsaw Province Court, which denied the appeal in 1968.
In 1969, she filed a petition with the province court to reopen the proceeding that had concluded in the legally final ruling in 1968, alleging that the handwritten agreement under which the arbitration award was obtained had been forged by Ryszard S. The province court reopened the proceeding.
In the meantime, the files from a criminal investigation were added to the case file in the civil proceeding. The prosecutor had investigated Ryszard S.’s alleged forgery of the agreement with Eugenia S., and concluded he had forged the document, but also found that the act he committed had caused negligible societal harm, and the criminal investigation was discontinued accordingly. The province court nonetheless found that there was no inconsistency in the award and that it did not violate public policy, and, in 1970, once again denied Eugenia S.’s appeal.
The Prosecutor General then sought extraordinary review of the province court’s order by the Polish Supreme Court, alleging gross violation of law, and applied for a judgment vacating the orders of the province court and the county court and remanding the case for reconsideration by the county court.
The Supreme Court denied the review. It found that Eugenia S. had in fact alleged in the arbitration proceeding that the agreement was forged by Ryszard S., but the arbitration court had rejected her allegation. She initially alleged that the entire agreement was forged, but when a handwriting expert determined beyond doubt that she had signed the agreement, she changed her claim to state that only one paragraph of the agreement, which was partially written in different ink, had been inserted in the agreement later without her knowledge. In its justification for the award, the arbitration court exhaustively addressed the alleged forgery and found that Eugenia S.’s allegation was not credible, among other reasons because her original allegation that the entire document was forged was made in bad faith. It was correct for the lower courts to accept the arbitration court’s thorough explanation for its ruling and reject the claim that the award violated public policy.
Essentially the only new evidence admitted when the proceeding was reopened by the province court was the file from the criminal investigation, but the testimony and other evidence collected by the prosecutor was essentially the same evidence that had already been presented to the arbitration court in the original proceeding. This did not warrant setting aside the award on the ground that there were new facts that would have justified reopening a civil proceeding. The fact that the prosecutor had reached a different conclusion than the arbitration court on whether or not the agreement was forged by Ryszard S. was not a discrepancy that rose to the level required to set aside the award as violating public policy.
Excerpt from the text of the court’s ruling:
A petition to set aside an arbitration award may be based on the same grounds that provide the basis for reopening a proceeding. Under Civil Procedure Code Art. 403 §1, reopening of a proceeding may be sought on the grounds that the judgment was based on a forged or altered document. However, this does not apply to a situation in which the allegation of forgery of the document was raised in the earlier proceeding and found by the court to be groundless. In such situation, a petition to reopen the proceeding may be based on newly discovered facts or evidence (Civil Procedure Code Art. 403 §2) demonstrating that the court’s conclusion as to the authenticity of the document was erroneous, or upon discovery of a legally final criminal conviction for forging or altering the document.