European Commission

 

Enforcement fiche for Poland



I. ADMINISTRATIVE ENFORCEMENT
Which administrative mechanisms are available to enforce the UCP Directive?

Administrative measures for enforcement of legislation implementing the UCP Directive are included in the Act on Competition and Consumers Protection. The authority responsible for administrative actions is the President of the Office of Competition and Consumers Protection. The available measures include: (i) decision declaring the practice as infringing collective interests of consumers and forbidding of use of such practice by a particular entrepreneur, (the decision can also indicate measures aimed at repairing the effects of use of such practice, impose on the particular entrepreneur the obligation to make one or more statements with a given content and in a given form, as well as impose obligation to publish the decision at the expense of such entrepreneur); (ii) decision declaring the practice as infringing collective interests of consumers and informing about the fact that the entrepreneur voluntarily ended the use of such practice (the decision may also include measures indicate in item (i) above); (iii) decision imposing obligation of undertaking the actions declared by the entrepreneur in the course of administrative procedure in order to repair results of using the practice.

Who can file administrative complaints?

Any party can file an information about the alleged use of the commercial practice infringing collective interests of consumers (including EU organizations aimed at protection of consumers registered) - Article 100 of the Act on Competition and Consumers Protection.

Do any specific procedural requirements apply to filing administrative complaints?

There are no special formal requirements applicable to the complaint. General rules of administratives proceedings shall apply.

Do the administrative authorities have an obligation to investigate the complaint?

The opening of the proceedings is at the discretion of the President of the Office of Competition and Consumers Protection. Should he decide to open initial explanatory proceedings, he is obliged to deliver a justified information about its results with the complaint within statutory time limit (up to 2 months when the matter is complicated), which can be extended if necessary.

Are there any specific requirements regarding the provision of evidence to the competent authorities?

The evidence from the document can only be based on original document or certified copy (notiary, legal counsel, authorised employee can also certify evidence). The Polish language is an official language of the proceedings. In case the document is in foreign language, there is an obligation to deliver a certified translation to Polish.

II. ENFORCEMENT THROUGH COURT ACTION
Which court actions are available to enforce the UCP Directive?

A consumer whose interests have been infringed may bring claim to a court. Simultaneously a notification on committing a crime or an offence can be submitted to the relevant law enforcement agency.

Who can start a court action?

Remedies are available to consumers whose interests have been endangered or infringed, the Ombudsman, the Insurance Commissioner, national and regional organizations whose statutory aim is the protection of consumer interests and local advocates of consumer interests.

Can court actions be initiated by competitors?

The Unfair Commercial Practices Act was enacted to protect consumer interests from unfair business-to-consumer commercial practices and due to that fact competitors/traders cannot initiate court proceedings as they have only capacity to be sued and not to sue.

Can the case be handled through an accelerated procedure?

Polish law does not contain any specific provisions on this matter. Consequently the general provisions of the civil procedure law will apply. No special accelerated procedure is available.

Are there any specific requirements regarding the provision of evidence to the court?

Polish law does not contain any specific provisions on this matter related to UCP Directive.

III. SANCTIONS
What are the possible civil sanctions and remedies for the infringement of the UCP provisions?

Under the Unfair Commercial Practices Act a consumer whose interests have been endangered or infringed may demand: (i) cessation of unfair commercial practices, (ii) repair of consequences of unfair commercial practices, (iii) publication of one or several statements of a certain content and form, (iv) remedying the damage in accordance with general rules in particular invalidating agreements with the obligation to mutually return the performances rendered by the parties and to reimburse any costs incurred in connection with the purchase of products, (v) adjudication of a certain amount for a specified social purpose connected with the support of Polish culture, protection of national heritage or protection of consumers. The above mentioned remedies are not only available to individual consumers. The remedies listed above in points 1, 3 and 5 are also available to the parties entitle to initial the court proceedings.

What are the possible criminal sanctions for the infringement of the UCP provisions?

Unfair commercial practices regarded as aggressive have been declared to be minor offences punishable with a fine from 20 PLN to 5000 PLN. Unfair Commercial Practices Act introduces criminal liability for practices consisting of conducting or organizing activity in a form of "consumers consortium". Penalties include imprisonment.

What are the possible administrative sanctions for the infringement of the UCP provisions?

On the basis of the Act on Competition and Consumers Protection, the President of the Office of Competition and Consumers Protection can issue following decisions: (i) decision imposing a fine up to 10% of the annual turnover for using practice infringing collective interests of the consumers; (ii) decision imposing a fine up to PLN 10,000 for each day of the delay in ending the use of the forbidden practice; (iii) decision imposing a fine up to 50 times avarage monthly salary on a person managing the enterpreneur responsible for non compliance with the decision forbidding the use of practice infringing collective interests of the consumers.

What are the contractual consequences of an administrative order or a judgement relating to an unfair commercial practice on an individual transaction?

Civil sanctions range from invalidity or lack of effect of a contract concluded with the use of unfair practices, the requirement to stop any further practices and eliminate the results of those which already occurred, to paying compensation according to general rules or paying a sum of money for a designated purpose. An Administrative order does not have impact on contractual relations in an individual transaction.

How can consumers get redress/compensation (e.g. through collective actions)?

In the event the provisions on commercial practices have been endangered or infringed the claimant may file an action against such practices before a court to receive compensation as a remedy for the damage according to general rules of Polish civil law.

Can the administrative authorities or the courts require the publication of their decisions?

Yes, the decisions of the President of the Office of Competition and Consumers Protection can require its decision be published at the expense of the addresse of such decision.

IV. OTHER TYPES OF ENFORCEMENT
Are there any self-regulatory enforcement systems in your jurisdiction that deal with aspects of the UCP Directive?

The Polish provisions of law do not envisage any agency responsible for enforcement of self-regulatory codes of conduct.

Are there any mediating services that deal with aspects of the UCP Directive (e.g., an ombudsman)?

There is a number of locally situated consumer representatives who help individual consumers with court proceedings, liaise on their behalf with business owners, cooperate with the Office for Competition and Consumer Protection and the Trade Inspection, and provide general advisory and procedural help .
A network of consumer courts of arbitration operates at Voivodship Inspectorates of the Trade Inspection. Currently, there are 16 consumer courts of arbitration with 15 branch offices. The courts were established on the basis of art. 37 of the Act of Trade Inspection dated 15 December 2000.

Additionally, there are certain sector specific mediating services. An example of this is the  institution of the Insurance Commissioner, which creates a possibility of an amicable resolution of a dispute between insurers and their clients. The Amicable Court was established to resolve disputes between these parties. The case may be heard only subject to a consent of a defendant. A judgment of the Amicable Court is enforceable after approval of the common court.