On 28 April 2013, the new Act on Payment Dates in Commercial Transactions (“Act”) came into force. The Act provides for statutory payment terms of price/remuneration for the sale of goods or services, if these are in connection with business activity. The new regulations differ depending on (i) whether or not the parties contractually adopted applicable payment dates, and (ii) if the creditor is dealing with a public or non-public debtor in default.
Contractual payment date exceeding 30 days or no contractual payment date
Firstly, it should be explained that “payment date” refers to the date on which a payment falls due.
According to the Act, the statutory interest (currently 13% per annum) shall be due to the creditor already 30 days after fulfillment of the creditor’s obligation and the delivery of an invoice or a bill to the debtor, until the day of factual payment, but in any case no longer than until the contractual payment date. It is regardless of the fact what payment date the parties have agreed on contractually. In other words, no matter what the parties agree regarding the payment date, statutory interest on remuneration or price due starts to run 30 days after the goods or services are pro-vided.
Exceptionally, the above rule does not apply to a public health entity as defined un-der the Act of 15 April 2011 on medical activity (e.g. a hospital).
In case no contractual payment date has been set out, the statutory interest shall be due to the creditor, without prior notice, 30 days after the goods or services are provided and it runs until the payment date, which, in this case, is understood as the day set out in a written default notice issued to the debtor. Under default notic-es, one understands: (i) an invoice or a bill confirming delivery of goods or perfor-mance of services and (ii) – in case the parties agreed so – an electronic default notice.
Interest due for defaulted payment
The rules governing interest for defaulted payments depend on whether the debtor is a public entity.
In case it is a public entity, the maximum payment date cannot fall outside of 30 days (60 days for medical entities), after which the interest as due for tax debts (determined in Art. 56 § 1 of Act of 29 August 1997 – Tax ordinance – currently at 11.5% per annum) starts to run. However, it only runs all the way from the pay-ment date until the factual payment day if: (i) the creditor has actually provided goods or services as agreed, and (ii) the debtor has not paid the price/remuneration on the contractual payment date or the one resulting from a default notice. The par-ties may agree on a longer than 30-day payment date if: (i) it does not exceed 60 days, and (ii) it is objectively justified by the agreement’s features or special com-ponents. Even in such case, the creditor may after the lapse of 30 days claim inter-est as due for tax debts. In any event, the payment date starts to run on the deliv-ery to the debtor of an invoice or a bill confirming sale of goods or services. In case there is no invoice or bill, or the delivery thereof is effected before the goods or ser-vices are provided, the payment date starts to run on the date the goods or services are provided.
In case the defaulted party is not a public entity, the situation regarding calculation of interest is similar but the payment date differs. In such case, the maximum payment date is 60 days. The amount of interest rate, its legal basis and the conditions that a creditor shall fulfill in order to claim for interest are the same.
The parties are entitled to agree to higher interest than the ones due for tax debts. Exceptionally, the parties are entitled to agree on a longer than 60 day payment date on the condition that it is not contrary to the socio-economic aim of the contract, the principles of community life and it is objectively justified by features of the goods or services.
Should the parties agree that the payment of due price/remuneration is to be made in installments, the interest is due with respect to the unpaid amounts. The creditor also has a separate right to have the costs of recovering receivable compensated and reimbursed with respect to the unpaid amounts.
Additionally, the Act sets out rules for examining the goods or services provided by the creditor. If the contractual parties agreed on such an examination, the term thereof shall comply with the socio-economic aim of the contract, the principles of community life and should be objectively justified by features of the goods or services. However, it shall not exceed 30 days from the day of receipt of the goods or services. In case the debtor received an invoice or a bill (confirming receipt of goods or services) before the examination starts or during it, the payment date starts to run starting on the day when the examination is completed.
The Act also provides for compensation due to a creditor to cover the costs of recovering defaulted payments. The compensation for such action amounts to the PLN equivalent of EUR 40 flat. Once the costs of recovery are higher than the given amount, the debtor is obliged to pay the factual costs of recovery. Should the case end up in court, the court fees assigned to the creditor shall be lowered by the value of pre-litigation debt recovery.