Polish Supreme Court order
dated 6 May 1999
Case No. I PKN 140/99
Summary by arbitraz.laszczuk.pl:
A football player entered into an agreement with his football club, a workers’ sports club at a steel mill, to “represent the club colours”. The agreement excluded application of the Labour Code and included a clause calling for arbitration of disputes before the arbitration court at the Polish Football Association.
The independent football players’ union of which he was a member subsequently brought an action in the district court (labour court) on behalf of the player against his club, seeking over PLN 5,000 in wages on the theory that the agreement to “represent the club colours” was de facto an employment contract for a definite period. The club asserted the arbitration clause as a defence.
The district court (labour court) issued an order forwarding the case to the arbitration court at the Polish FA. The union filed an interlocutory appeal with the province court (labour and social insurance court), which was denied. The court held that although employment disputes are not arbitrable, the agreement in question excluded application of the Labour Code, and under the Civil Code the dispute was arbitrable.
On cassation appeal, the Supreme Court of Poland held that the case involved an employment dispute, as determined by the nature of the claim, and therefore it was not arbitrable. Furthermore, the lower courts had acted inconsistently, because if the dispute was arbitrable the case should have been dismissed instead of forwarded to the arbitration court. The court set aside the orders below and remanded the case to the district court (labour court) accordingly.
Excerpt from the text of the court’s ruling:
Under Civil Procedure Code Art. 697 §1, an arbitration clause may not cover, among other things, disputes arising out of an employment relationship. The nature of the case is determined by the claim pursued.