Class actions in Poland are admissible before Polish courts in civil proceedings and regulated under the act of 17th December 2009 on pursuing of claims in group proceedings (the "Class Actions Act"). The Class Actions Act provides for a mechanism of pursuing certain categories of claims by a group of at least 10 persons led be a group representative. The Class Actions Act applies to the following categories of claims:
- claims related to product liability,
- claims related to torts,
- claims related to contractual liability,
- claims related to unjustified enrichment,
- claims related to consumer protection.
Court proceedings related to class actions are not common in Poland due to complexity of the procedure (particularly: complicated rules of group organisation, unclear requirements concerning uniformity or repeatability of factual basis of claims and unclear requirements concerning uniformisation of amounts of monetary claims). Polish Ministry of Justice keeps a register of class actions brought before Polish courts. Only around 40 cases are disclosed in this register. Apart from class actions, other forms of claims' aggregation are admissible in Polish civil proceedings, for example pursuing multiple claims in the same court proceedings as so-called joinder or joint participation. In practice, all forms of claims aggregation, including class actions, usually entail procedural complications and therefore are often avoided.
Has the directive been implemented in this jurisdiction?
The implementation of the Directive is delayed. The Directive should have been implemented until 25th December 2022 and should come into force in EU member states no later than 25th June 2023. Whereas in Poland only an initial draft of the bill implementing the Directive has been drawn up on 6th December 2022 and then published on 21 December 2022. That initial bill is still subject to internal governmental drafting procedures conducted by the Governmental Legislative Centre (in Polish: Rządowe Centrum Legislacji) during which the text might change significantly. After completion of this preparatory works by Governmental Legislative Centre and consultation procedures, the bill will be introduced to the Polish Parliament to initiate the legislative procedure.
Is the jurisdiction allowing for an opt-in or opt-out model?
The current Class Actions Act allows for an opt-in model in which a group of 10 individuals must gather for a group to become organised and have legal standing.
The draft bill implementing the Directive follows the same opt-in model, requiring the existence of a group with 10 individuals for the qualified entity to initiate the proceedings. The draft bill also allows consumers which initiated individual court proceedings against the company concerning the same subject matter to join the group until the court makes a decision in the first instance.
Brief description of class action cases in Poland with examples:
As mentioned above, the register of class actions brought before Polish courts is kept by Polish Ministry of Justice. Class action claims are brought mainly against companies from financial, insurance and real estate sectors. However, the registry of class action cases usually does not contain information on the size of the group engaged in the class action and amounts of claims. The class action procedure is also not commonly used in Poland due to its procedural complexity. Hence, it is difficult to evaluate the size of cases, while not many major class action cases are known in Poland. We expect that implementation of the Directive will put much more spotlight on the class action suits and trigger a rise of class action cases.
Examples of cases listed below fall under the current regime and therefore do not relate to the Directive.
Santander Towarzystwo Funduszy Inwestycyjnych S.A: Class action filed by an individual against an investment fund company - Santander Towarzystwo Funduszy Inwestycyjnych S.A. related to acquisition of investment certificates. The proceedings is pending before the Regional Court in Poznań (case reference number I C 1987/19).
Powszechna Kasa Oszczędności Bank Polski S.A: Class action filed by an individual against a Polish bank - Powszechna Kasa Oszczędności Bank Polski S.A. The proceedings is pending before the Regional Court in Warsaw (case reference number III C 1122/15).
Towarzystwo Ubezpieczeń Europa S.A: Class action filed by a consumer ombudsman against an insurance company - Towarzystwo Ubezpieczeń Europa S.A. The proceedings is pending before the Regional Court in Warsaw (case reference number XXIV C 709/15).
Bank Millenium S.A: Class action filed by a consumer ombudsman against a bank - Bank Millenium S.A. The proceedings is pending before the Regional Court in Warsaw (case reference number I C 1281/15).
Trend Development sp. z o.o. Class action filed by an individual against a housing company - Trend Development sp. z o.o. The proceedings is pending before the Regional Court in Warsaw (case reference number III C 171/16).