Katowice Appellate Court order
dated 17 July 2012
Case No. V ACz 464/12
Summary by arbitraz.laszczuk.pl:
Insurance company A. SA paid a claim for a loss suffered by the insured under a property insurance policy. The insurer then filed a subrogation action in the Gliwice Regional Court against M. sp. z o.o., the party allegedly liable for the loss suffered by the insured. Before joining issue on the merits of the action, the defendant moved to dismiss the action on the grounds that there was an arbitration clause between the defendant and the insured covering the loss in question. The regional court denied the motion. On interlocutory appeal, the Katowice Appellate Court held that the arbitration clause between the insured and the party allegedly responsible for the loss that was paid by the insurer was binding on the insurer. The court granted the appeal and dismissed the insurance company’s action accordingly.
Excerpts from the text of the court’s ruling:
1. Acquisition of a claim does not infringe the effectiveness of agreements concluded between the prior creditor and the debtor. This applies also to an arbitration clause, which is binding on the acquirer of the claim. It is stressed in the case law that the debtor may not be in a worse situation that it would be in an action for damages pursued by the insured as the injured party, and thus the debtor is entitled to any defences it would have against the insured as of the time it became aware of the transfer. ... The defences referred to in Civil Code Art. 513 §1 thus include not only defences under substantive law, such as the statute of limitations or setoff, but also the defence of the existence of an arbitration clause, which, according to the prevailing views presented in the literature on the subject and shared by the panel of judges at the appellate court, is an agreement of substantive law exerting effects only in the sphere of procedural law. The case thus presents the extension of the binding force of an arbitration clause to an entity that was not an original party to the clause.
2. The binding force of an arbitration clause also extends to legal successors, under specific grounds, to the legal relationship that was submitted to arbitration.
3. It is clear that an insurer that assumes a subrogation claim under Civil Code Art. 828 §1 is bound by an arbitration clause.