The President has signed an amendment to the Act on payment periods in commercial transactions. On 1 January 2016 changes come into force on the rules for determining the amount of interest due for delays in payment as well as the amount of interest that a creditor or lender may demand asremuneration on the principal. The amendment also changes the conditions allowing business entities to contractually extend periods for payment for delivered goods or services. Business entities whosecontractual partners are behind with payments should take particular note of the changes, as shouldbanks and other lending institutions.
The main advantage of the new regulation is the introduction of clearer rules for determining all types of statutory interest. Under the new rules, all types of interest will be calculated according to the National Bank of Poland’s (NBP) reference rate. Until now, statutory interest has been determined by the Councilof Ministers by way of a directive or – in the case of commercial transactions – based on the amount ofso-called interest on tax liabilities. Linking the rate of such interest to the NBP reference rate will ensure interest rates remain close to market rates.
The amount of statutory interest for late payment in commercial transactions (e.g. payment ofinvoices) will be equal to the sum of the NBP reference rate plus 8 percentage points.
In turn, statutory interest for the provision of capital (e.g. the provision of a loan) and statutory interest for delay in repayment will be calculated as follows:
- the “principal” rate of statutory interest will be equal to the sum of the NBP reference rateplus 3.5 percentage points;
- the rate of interest resulting from legal action (e.g. from a credit agreement) will not exceed twice the statutory interest rate;
- the rate of statutory interest for late payment will be equal to the sum of the NBP reference rate plus 5.5 percentage points;
- the maximum rate of interest for late payment (agreed between the parties) will not exceedtwice the statutory interest rate for late payment.
The new rules also change the conditions allowing business entities to contractually extend the period for payment for delivered goods or services. This period cannot exceed 60 days from the date the debtorreceives the invoice or bill, unless the parties have expressly agreed otherwise in the contract and provided that such arrangement is not grossly unfair to the creditor. Until now, extending the period formore than 60 days has been possible on the basis of a vague general clause that has raised manydoubts concerning its interpretation.
One further amendment is that parties to a contract may not agree on the date of delivery of an invoiceor bill. Under the current law, agreeing to postpone raising claims for interest for delay is not expressly forbidden.