Katowice Court of Appeal judgment
dated 17 June 2021
Case No. I ACa 618/20
Summary by arbitraz.laszczuk.pl:
R. S. and …, a joint-stock company, based in S., concluded a professional football player contract on 10 July 2017. § 8 of the contract stipulated that the player was entitled to receive additional prizes which were to be granted by the management board for sporting performance in accordance with the Regulations. All sporting performance prizes were to be granted to the player only for the duration of the contract, and after the end of the contract – in proportion to the total number of minutes played by the player in league matches excluding the Polish Cup matches. According to § 15 of the contract, all disputes arising out of or in connection with the contract were to be resolved by relevant authorities. Disputes concerning property or non-property rights arising out of the contract were to be resolved by the Arbitral Tribunal at… .
On 27 April 2018 the parties signed an agreement under which they terminated the contract as of 1 May 2018. For this reason, the club was obliged to pay the player approx. PLN 12,000. Additionally, the parties stipulated that the agreement exhausted all claims of the player against the club due to the execution of the contract and its termination. The player also stated that he would not bring any claims under the contract in the future. § 4 of the agreement provided that all disputes arising out of the performance of the agreement were to be resolved by the Arbitration Court at … .
About a year later, the player filed a lawsuit to the Arbitration Court against the club. He indicated that irrespective of the fact that the parties terminated the contract, they had been bound by inter-club Regulations according to which the club had been obliged to pay the players approx. PLN 1,000,000 cumulatively in case of a promotion to the Ekstraklasa league. The club stated that it did not have the aforementioned Regulations.
An Arbitral Tribunal in panel of 3 arbitrators delivered an award, but it was challenged by both parties. Then, the Arbitral Tribunal in panel of 5 arbitrators delivered another award. It found that there had been no Regulations, however, the club had made a public promise towards the player under Art. 919 § 1 of the Polish Civil Code.
The club filed a petition to set aside the arbitration award to the Court of Appeal in Katowice, but it was dismissed. The Court of Appeal found that, taking the case records into consideration, it had been impossible to infer that the statement made by the player regarding the waiver of claims under the contract included also the public promise concerning the subsequent promotion to the Ekstraklasa league and the prize on that account.
It is worth noting that in this judgment the Court of Appeal in Katowice made a reference to, among other things, the following rulings of the Polish Supreme Court: dated 22 October 1935, Case No. II C 984/35, dated 11 May 2007, Case No. I CSK 82/07, dated 15 March 2012, Case No. I CSK 286/11.
Excerpts from the text of the court ruling:
1. [I]n proceedings initiated by a petition to set aside an arbitration award, a state tribunal is not authorized to examine whether an arbitral tribunal has correctly resolved the dispute in factual and legal terms… .
2. The provisions regarding the admissibility of a petition [to set aside an arbitration award – insertion added] shall be interpreted strictly and, in case of any doubts, it is preferable rather to uphold the award than to set it aside… .