New regulations on class actions are being contemplated by the Polish Parliament. If accepted, they will simplify the procedure and contribute to the growth of class action litigation in Poland.
At the beginning of March, the Lower House of Polish Parliament accepted a bill introducing major changes concerning class action litigation in Poland. Despite political differences, the bill was accepted with only a single vote against it. We expect that the new law will come into force in the upcoming months.
Class actions were introduced into Polish law in 2010. Soon it became clear that the set of rules governing this procedure was seriously flawed. The proceedings last too long, are easily obstructed and grossly ineffective. What is more, only a few types of claims are subject to a class action. For these reasons, a representative suit is a rare sight in Polish courts.
Risks and opportunities
This is supposed to change once the new law comes into force. The proposed regulations are designed to speed up the proceedings and make them less formal and easier to conduct. They also allow for more types of claims to be pursued through a class action, most importantly those stemming from a breach of contract. As a result, we can expect a significant increase in the number of class action cases, including those conducted in a B2B setup.
However, simplifying the procedure comes with a price. Perhaps the most contentious part of the new rules concerns weakening the procedural position of a defendant. In order to accelerate the proceedings, it was necessary to limit the defendant's rights to contest court decisions regarding the admissibility of a class action and the composition of a class. It remains to be seen whether these changes will disrupt the equilibrium between the parties.
We are eagerly anticipating the new law to be adopted and enter into force. It may bring new exciting opportunities for lawyers specializing in the field of dispute resolution. And who knows, maybe the next Erin Brockovich movie will be made in Poland.