Polish Supreme Court judgment
dated 19 April 2012
IV CSK 443/11
Summary by arbitraz.laszczuk.pl:
A local credit union which was a member of the National Credit Union filed an action in the regional court against the National Credit Union seeking a declaratory judgment that a section of the statute of the National Credit Union involving coverage of balance sheet losses of the National Credit Union out of its stability fund was invalid.
The defendant asserted as a defence another clause in the statute of the National Credit Union requiring arbitration of disputes involving membership issues. The regional court did not issue a separate ruling on the defence of the arbitration clause but granted a declaratory judgment in favour of the plaintiff on the merits, striking the provision of the statute concerning coverage of balance sheet losses, and also stating in the decision that the dispute was not covered by the arbitration clause because it did not involve membership issues.
The court of appeal denied the defendant’s appeal. It held that the regional court’s failure to rule on the defence of the arbitration clause was moot because the dispute not only did not involve membership issues and therefore did not fall within the scope of the arbitration clause, but the dispute was also not arbitrable because it could not be the subject of a judicial settlement.
On cassation appeal, the Supreme Court of Poland held that the defence of the arbitration clause was properly denied because the dispute did not involve membership and could not be the subject of a judicial settlement and therefore was not arbitrable. The Supreme Court went on to set aside the judgment below on the merits, holding that the provision of the statute authorizing the National Credit Union to use the stability fund to cover balance sheet losses was valid, and entered judgment denying the plaintiff’s claim.
Excerpt from the text of the court’s ruling:
The arbitration clause set forth in the defendant’s statute covers financial and non-financial disputes between the National Credit Union and its members arising out of the relationship of membership. The dispute in this case was not a dispute arising out of the relationship of membership, but concerned the lawfulness of the section of the agreement which is the statute. The subject of the dispute indicates that this type of dispute could not be the subject of a judicial settlement, and under Civil Procedure Code Art. 1157 only disputes which are settleable may be submitted to an arbitration court for resolution.