Warsaw Court of Appeal order
dated 28 September 2016
Case No. I ACa 843/16
Summary by arbitraz.laszczuk.pl:
In an arbitration between two Polish companies before the Court of Arbitration at the Polish Chamber of Commerce, an award was issued for the claimant on 27 November 2015 for some PLN 180,000, denying a further PLN 295,000 sought by the claimant and ordering the parties to bear their own costs. After correction of the reference in the award to the respondent’s registered office, the order correcting the award was served on counsel on 15 February 2016.
On 10 March 2016, the claimant filed a petition with the Warsaw Regional Court to set aside the award as to denial of a portion of its claim and refusal to award it costs. On 24 March 2016 the regional court issued an order (served on counsel on 4 April 2016) finding that it was not the proper court to hear the case seeking to set aside the award and passing the case to the Warsaw Court of Appeal. The regional court forwarded the case file to the court of appeal and it was received there on 5 May 2016.
The Polish arbitration law was amended effective 1 January 2016. Among other changes, jurisdiction in cases seeking to set aside an arbitration award was moved from the district court or regional court to the court of appeal. Previously, petitions to set aside an arbitration award were to be governed as relevant by the provisions on statements of claim, but under the amended law such petitions were to be governed as relevant by the provisions governing appeals. The period for filing a petition to set aside an arbitration award was also cut from 3 months to 2 months. The new rules applied to proceedings commenced under the Civil Procedure Code on or after 1 January 2016, while the old rules continued to apply in cases commenced under the Civil Procedure Code prior to 1 January 2016.
The court of appeal held a hearing on the case in September 2016 where it found that this case was governed by the amended rules which went into force on 1 January 2016. As the corrected award was served on the claimant on 15 February 2016, the two-month period under the amended law for filing a petition to set aside the award expired on 15 April 2016.
Under the amended law, the petition to set aside the award should have been filed with the court of appeal rather than the regional court. The petition to set aside the arbitration award was deemed to be filed not at the time of original filing with the incorrect court, 10 March 2016, but on the date the forwarded case file was actually received by the correct court, 5 May 2016.
The court rejected a line of case law under which, by analogy to a statement of claim, a petition to set aside an arbitration award would also be deemed to be timely filed when it was filed with the court that would have had jurisdiction over the case if the parties had not made an arbitration agreement (i.e. here the Warsaw Regional Court). Under the amended law, analogous to an appeal, filing the petition to set aside the award with the regional court, which was now functionally improper to hear the case, was not deemed to meet the deadline for filing the petition. Consequently, the petition was not deemed to be filed until the forwarded case file was received by the correct court.
Because the deadline for filing the petition to set aside the award was 15 April 2016 and the petition was not deemed to be filed until 5 May 2016, the petition was late and the court of appeal issued an order rejecting the petition accordingly.
Excerpts from the text of the court’s ruling:
1. Art. 9 of [the Act of 10 September 2015 Amending Certain Acts to Encourage Amicable Methods of Dispute Resolution] ensures the continuity of application of the prior regulations of procedural law in cases pursuant to a petition to set an arbitration award which were commenced before the state courts prior to 1 January 2016. In cases in which a petition to set aside an arbitration award is filed with the state court after 31 December 2015, the new regulations apply.
2. Compliance with the deadline for filing a petition to set aside an arbitration award, filed with a state court not authorized to consider cases of this type, is determined by the date on which the unauthorized court (not having subject-matter jurisdiction) forwarded the case to the proper court.