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contains rulings by the Supreme Court of Poland, other Polish state courts and the Court of Justice of the European Union concerning arbitration. The unique collection of Supreme Court rulings from the pre-war era are particularly notable. The editors of the portal have selected excerpts from the holdings as headnotes, together with a breakdown of the key issues in each case. Readers can search the entire case law database using selected parameters.
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Supreme Court of Poland order dated 9 October 2020 Case No. II CSK 37/20

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.

Publication date: 09-10-2020 | Case no.: II CSK 37/20

Key issues: petition to set aside arbitration award

id: 20580

Supreme Court of Poland order dated 15 September 2020 Case No. I CSK 182/20

1. Generally, a state court cannot examine whether an award challenged in a petition to set aside was based on properly established facts and how and whether an arbitral tribunal correctly interpreted the norms of substantive law it applied (…).

2. By examination of the grounds and prerequisites set out in Art. 1206 § 1 point 4 of the Polish Civil Procedure Code, what is important is the presence of a failure to meet the requirements in the scope of fundamental principles of arbitration proceedings resulting from a statute or specified by the parties. One of these principles is to base the award on established facts, which takes place after hearing of evidence. (…). Thus, only if the state court found that such hearing of evidence has not been conducted at all, or has been incomplete or obviously faulty, in breach of the principles of logical reasoning, of linking facts together in a cause-and-effect chain, selective admission of evidence in the case, examination of evidence of only one party in groundless omission of the evidence requested by the other party, etc., it would be possible to find that the requirements set out in Art. 1206 § 1 point 4 of the PCPC. (…).

3. [A]n obvious discrepancy between an arbitration award and the facts of the case may demonstrate a violation of the rule of law (…). This means that not every declaration that an award is inconsistent with the factual state may result in setting aside of this award. It is assumed that a conclusion that the rule of law has been violated is justified, if as a result of the arbitration award the fundamental principles of the legal order of the state are infringed (…).

Publication date: 15-09-2020 | Case no.: I CSK 182/20

Key issues: arbitration award, petition to set aside arbitration award

id: 20579

Judgment of the Court of Justice of 2 April 2020, C-480/18, PrivatBank

[I]n accordance with the principle of the procedural autonomy of the Member States, the national legislature may give the competent authority, in the complaints and penalty procedures referred to in Articles 80 to 82 of Directive 2007/64, as amended by Directive 2009/111, the power to take into account the existence and contents of an arbitration ruling settling a dispute between a user and provider of payment services concerned by those procedures, provided that the probative value given to that ruling in those procedures is not liable to undermine the purpose or specific objectives of the procedures, the rights of defence of the persons concerned or the independent exercise of the powers and competencies conferred on that authority, which is a matter for the referring court to ascertain.

Publication date: 02-04-2020 | Case no.: C-480/18

Key issues: arbitration award

id: 20563

Order of the Supreme Court of Poland dated 30 July 2019 Case No. I CSK 107/19

In the case law of the Polish Supreme Court a view prevails that an arbitration award may be set aside only for reasons listed in Art. 1206 of the Polish Civil Procedure Code. A common court cannot substantively consider a dispute between parties to arbitration proceedings in this type of proceedings, it does not examine whether the arbitration award is contrary to substantive law or whether the arbitration award is based on facts quoted therein, or whether these facts had been correctly established.

Publication date: 30-07-2019 | Case no.: I CSK 107/19

Key issues: petition to set aside arbitration award

id: 20536

Polish Supreme Court judgment dated 18 July 2019 Case No. I CSK 323/18

1. The essence of arbitration is the autonomy and freedom of action of the parties and an arbitration tribunal is not bound by the provisions of the Polish Civil Procedure Code on proceedings before a state court (Art. 1184 § 2 of the Polish Civil Procedure Code). It is only bound by the mandatory provisions of the Polish Civil Procedure Code which regulate the arbitration procedure (…).

2. The scope of the final resolution by an arbitration tribunal of a submitted claim shall result from the conclusion of the arbitration award and cannot be derived from the statement of reasons (…).

3. [T]he basis in Art. 1206 § 2 point 2 of the Polish Civil Procedure Code is justified, if the effect of an arbitration award is contrary to the fundamental principles of the legal order of the state. These shall be understood not only as constitutional norms of fundamental importance, but also as the ground rules governing particular areas of substantive and procedural law.

4. A court, in proceedings to set aside an arbitration award, cannot resolve a dispute between the parties of arbitration proceedings as to the merits. Consequently, the court cannot examine, whether the arbitration award is not contrary to substantive law and whether this award is based on the facts given in its statement of reasons and whether these facts have been properly established.

5. The principle of the binding force of final court rulings (Art. 365 § 1 of the Polish Civil Procedure Code) as an element of the values protected constitutionally and in the international order is a part of the fundamental principles of the legal order of the Republic of Poland. This rule also applies to arbitration awards after their recognition or enforcement by a state court. Such an award, thanks to the state court judgment related to it, has the same legal effect as a court judgment (Art. 1212 § 1 of the Polish Civil Procedure Code) (…).

6. A state court shall not allow two rulings between the same parties whose enforcement is guaranteed by the state, but which would resolve the same issue differently, to be present in the legal system, since this would undermine the authority of the justice system and the confidence in the courts, colliding with the principle of the stability of final rulings and the principle of legal certainty (…).

Publication date: 18-07-2019 | Case no.: I CSK 323/18

Key issues: arbitration award, arbitration procedure, petition to set aside arbitration award

id: 20523

Supreme Court of Poland order dated 19 June 2019 Case No. I CSK 23/19

1. It was no accident that the lawmaker has used the word “reasons” in Art. 1197 § 2 of the Polish Civil Procedure Code, emphasizing that an arbitration award does not have to fully comply with the requirements of a justification of a state court ruling. As it has already been explained in the case law, if it is possible to infer from an arbitration award what prerequisites guided the arbitration court when it ruled on the demands of the parties, it can be deemed that these requirements have been fulfilled (…).

2. [J]urisdiction of an arbitral tribunal derived from an arbitration agreement does not have the character of a specific pre-jurisdiction – an arbitral resolves a case independently, instead of a state court, therefore it is the arbitral tribunal that is obliged to determine the factual basis and to legally assess the dispute. Control exercised over arbitration by a state court is not tantamount to resolution of a case ex novo, either on the factual or on the legal neveau (…).

3. [A] state court considering a petition to set aside an arbitration award does not interpret the agreement made by a parties to the dispute, and therefore it does not apply the aforementioned provision independently, but it only (…) examines the circumstances indicated in Art. 1206 § 1 of the Polish Civil Procedure Code, if the petitioner relies on them, and ex officio examines the circumstances specified in Art. 1206 § 2 of the Polish Civil Procedure Code.

Publication date: 19-06-2019 | Case no.: I CSK 23/19

Key issues: arbitration award, petition to set aside arbitration award

id: 20524

Supreme Court of Poland order dated 7 June 2019 Case No. I CSK 76/19

1. [P]roceedings initiated by a petition to set aside an arbitration award do not lead to a repeated substantive consideration of the dispute, but their purpose is only to verify the applicant’s pleadings presented in the petition as to existence of grounds referred to in Art. 1206 § 1 of the Polish Civil Procedure Code, and to assess if any of the conditions referred to in Art. Art. 1206 § 2 of the Polish Civil Procedure Code exist, regardless of whether the applicant relied thereon (…).

2. Application by an arbitral tribunal of the substantive law applicable in the case is subject to control by a common court, only inasmuch as it is required to assess the award in terms of compliance with the public policy clause specified in Art. 1206 § 2 (2) of the Polish Civil Procedure Code (…).

3. An arbitration award may be set aside pursuant to the public policy clause, only if violation of substantive law by an arbitral tribunal has consequences which are impossible to be consistent with the fundamental principles of Polish legal order, i.e. which are clearly and grossly contrary to these principles (…). An ad casum assessment whether an award violates the fundamental principles of legal order shall be made with caution, with a preference for restrictive interpretation of its wording (…).

4. Abstractedly speaking, there are no doubts that an assessment of an arbitral tribunal under Art. 1206 § 1 and 2 of the Polish Civil Procedure Code requires – to a smaller or larger extent – determination of the course of broadly understood arbitration proceedings (procedural actions of the parties, procedural decisions of the arbitration tribunal, examination of evidence, factual findings and interpretation, as well as application by the arbitral tribunal of relevant provisions of substantive law (…)), which also applies to the appellate court.   

Publication date: 07-06-2019 | Case no.: I CSK 76/19

Key issues: petition to set aside arbitration award

id: 20525

Supreme Court of Poland order dated 4 April 2019 Case No. III CSK 81/17

1. [T]he concept of an ‘agreement in writing’, whereunder parties undertake to refer a dispute to arbitration, has been explained as meaning both an arbitration clause contained in a contract (i.e. relating to disputes which may arise in the future) as well as a compromise, i.e. an agreement to refer a dispute to arbitration concluded after a dispute has arisen.

2. [D]evelopment of means of distance communication results in acceptance of the viewpoint that the intent of Art. II (2) sentence 2 of the New York Convention is fulfilled also if a declaration of will is made by new technical methods, including an exchange of e-mails or faxes. In any of these situations, however, two requirements need to be fulfilled. Firstly, since we are dealing with a contract, it is necessary for each of the parties to clearly express its will to refer the dispute to arbitration, which is tantamount to acceptance of exclusion of a case from jurisdiction of a state court. Secondly, mutual acceptance of the idea to refer a dispute to arbitration is not sufficient. It is necessary for the parties to make a declaration of will in a way that fulfils the requirement of written form within the meaning of Art. II (2) sentence 2 of the New York Convention.  

3. To conclude an ‘agreement in writing’ within the meaning of Art. II of the New York Convention it would be also necessary in the situation at hand to make another declaration, whose content would express the will of the contractor agreeing to having a case recognized by an arbitration court. Only then it could be possible to say that was ‘an exchange of letters or telegrams’ (also faxes, e-mails, etc.) within the meaning of Art. II (2) sentence 2 of the New York Convention, understood as documents referring or corresponding to each other and containing consistent declarations of will of the parties to refer a dispute to arbitration. This criterion is not fulfilled, if the parties correspond with each other about matters related to the contract, but from the content of this correspondence it does not follow that an ‘exchange’ took place within the meaning of Art. II (2) sentence 2 of the New York Convention, so an ‘exchange’ of declarations concerning establishment of jurisdiction of an arbitration court.

4. [C]onclusion of an ‘agreement in writing’ or making an arbitration agreement is always a subject to assessment by an arbitration tribunal or a state court which decides on its jurisdiction or lack of jurisdiction to hear the case.

5. Effective reliance on the grounds for application of Art. 1162 § 2 sentence 2 of the Polish Civil Procedure Code is (…) possible only if a contract is concluded with respect to which a dispute may arise, i.e. the so-called main contract (…). 

6. [T]o effectively rely on existence of an arbitration clause, it is not sufficient for the contractor  to challenge the conclusion of the main contract (for example, a sales contract) in which reference is made to the arbitration agreement contained in another document. The issue of existence of the arbitration agreement always requires a separate assessment and a decision on the validity and effectiveness of the arbitration clause.

7. Competence of an arbitration tribunal to settle a dispute results from the will of the parties. This will should be (in legal categories, i.e. terms of assignability  of the declaration) unquestionable (…).

Publication date: 04-04-2019 | Case no.: III CSK 81/17

Key issues: arbitrability of dispute, arbitration agreement, jurisdiction of arbitral tribunal, New York Convention

id: 20533

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