Supreme Court of Poland order
dated 9 October 2020
Case No. II CSK 37/20
Summary by arbitraz.laszczuk.pl:
A dispute arose between S., a limited liability company, based in S. in Austria, B. Z., P. K., M. B. (the ‘claimants’) and Ł., a limited liability company, based in Ł., regarding the concluded contract of construction works. The parties decided that the case should be recognized by the Court of Arbitration at the Polish Chamber of Commerce in Warsaw (the ‘Court of Arbitration’), which delivered an award of 26 September 2018. However, a petition to set aside the arbitration award was filed. Then the Court of Appeal rendered a judgment of 2 August 2019, but the claimants filed a cassation appeal to the Polish Supreme Court. The Polish Supreme Court refused to hear the cassation appeal and ordered the claimants to pay jointly and severally to Ł. PLN 1,800 as reimbursement of the cost of the cassation appeal proceedings.
The Polish Supreme Court found that according to Art. 3989 § 1 of the Polish Civil Procedure Code (the ‘PCPC’), the Polish Supreme Court allows a cassation appeal, only if there is a significant legal question in the case, there is a need for interpretation of legal provisions which cause serious doubts or discrepancies in case law, proceedings are invalid or the cassation appeal is clearly justified.
In the cassation appeal, the claimants argued that there was a need for interpretation of Art. 1206 § 2 point 2 of the PCPC in connection with Art. 481 of the Polish Civil Code, i.e. that the Polish Supreme Court should answer the question whether a refusal of an arbitral tribunal to award statutory interest for a period in which it had already been due may constitute an infringement of the public policy clause. The Polish Supreme Court stated that the legal problems raised in the cassation appeal were essentially direct questions concerning this particular case, moreover, they were completely different from the establishments concerning the interest rate and limitation of a part of the claims presented by both the arbitral tribunal and the Court of Appeal. In the opinion of the Polish Supreme Court, the claimants’ arguments, although reasoned extensively, were not convincing that there were serious and significant legal doubts which were impossible to remove by applying the existing case law of the Polish Supreme Court and doctrine. Due to the fact that Art. 1206 § 2 point 2 of the PCPC, which was raised by the claimants, had been interpreted many times by the Polish Supreme Court, there was no real need for reference to this provision once again.
It is worth noting that in this order the Polish Supreme Court made a reference to, among other things, the followings rulings: dated 21 December 2004, Case No. I CK 405/04, dated 8 December 2006, Case No. V CSK 321/06, dated 11 May 2007, Case No. I CSK 82/07, dated 3 September 2009, Case No. I CSK 53/09, dated 15 May 2014, Case No. II CSK 557/13.
Excerpts from the text of the court ruling:
1. [I]n proceedings initiated by a petition to set aside an arbitration award (…) a state court does not examine the accuracy of the assessment of evidence taken by an arbitral tribunal, the correctness of factual findings, the accuracy of interpretation or application of rules of the substantive law; a state court does not assess the accuracy of a specific method of resolving a litigious legal relationship by an arbitral tribunal (…).
2. The essence of a petition to set aside an arbitration award is to create a control mechanism which respects, on the one hand, the distinctiveness and autonomy of arbitration, on the other hand, prevents functioning of arbitration awards which are in breach of the rule of law in the legal order.
3. The proceedings initiated by a petition to set aside an arbitration award do not lead to a substantive re-examination of the dispute between the parties, (…) but the aim of these proceedings is only to verify the claims of the petitioner concerning the statutory grounds for setting aside an arbitration award cited in the petition.