I. Introduction

Sometimes disputes cannot be resolved amicably, through mediation or negotiations and end up in the Courts of Poland.

It is therefore worth knowing what the court system looks like in Poland and what the principles of litigation.

II. Principles – Litigation / Poland

1. What are the forms of dispute resolution in Poland?

Disputes in Poland may be resolved before:

  • common courts (by default)
  • arbitration courts (if agreed by the parties)
  • before registered mediators (if agreed by the parties).

2. What are the court types in Poland

Justice system in Poland is consists of Supreme Court, common courts, administrative courts and military courts.

Most of the cases, incl. commercial litigation, civil litigation and criminal defense is performed before the common courts, i.e.:

  • Regional Courts (courts of I instance for small claims),
  • District Courts (courts of I instance for other claims, and court of appeal for small claims)
  • Courts of Appeal (court of appeal for other claims).

3. How many instances are available in litigation?

As a general rule, all judicial proceedings are of two-instance. Right to appeal to the higher-level court is guaranteed by the principal rule of Polish Constitution.

4. What is the number of judges hearing the case?

As a rule, cases are heard by a single-judge in the first instance and by a three-judges in the second instance (appeal proceedings).

5. What is the language of court proceedings?

International disputes before Polish common courts struggle with significant inconvenience - all the materials, incl. emails, contacts, testimonies etc. - must be sworn translated into Polish language. This significantly increases the cost and slows down the proceedings.

The court proceedings, incl. court hearings are conducted in Polish language, and if the participants do not speak Polish, an interpreter of the relevant foreign language needs to be present.

Above rules do not apply to arbitration proceedings - as here the parties may freely decide on the language.

6. Cost of Litigation in Poland

Under Polish procedural law, there are two main types of fees / expenses that are incurred by the parties:

  • court fees; and
  • litigation expenses;
  • legal fees.

7. Court fees

Launch of commercial disputes or civil disputes before Polish courts requires payment of the court fee which amounts to 5% of the claim value.

In commercial cases where the debtor has confirmed (recognized the debt amount) the plaintiff may benefit from discounted court fee of 1,25% of the claim value.

8. Litigation expenses

Litigation expenses include inter alia fees of experts, translators, and reimbursement for witnesses. Those fees are paid by the Court, however parties may be required to provide relevant advance payment.

9. Legal fees

Law Firm or professional attorney fees are to be freely agreed by each party. There are no major restrictions what can be agreed between client and the Law Firm in Poland. Attorneys and Barristers are however not allowed to work based on rule no win no fee.

10. Attorney / Barrister / Litigator - litigation lawyers in Poland

As per Polish law - attorneys (radca prawny) and barristers/ counsels (adwokat) are allowed to represent the clients before Polish Courts. There is no bigger difference between barristers and attorneys - it is mainly historical and recently merely related to admission to different association (Bar Association or Attorneys Association). Both - attorneys and barristers - work in as commercial litigator/s in the same Law Firms.

III. Preparation for Litigation in Poland

Prior to filing a lawsuit to the court of law, the plaintiff shall:

  • collect the evidence,
  • evaluate risks and expenses,
  • develop litigation strategy.

Above is particularly important in court dispute/s involving contentious issues (e.g. IP disputes).

1. Cease and desist / demand for payment notice of dispute

In commercial disputes, it is often a formally requirement that the plaintiff, prior to starting judicial process, attempts to resolve the dispute on the out of court basis.

As a result, most commercial disputes in Poland start with pre-judicial:

  • notice of dispute,
  • cease and desist letter,
  • demand for payment, or
  • any other communication that encourages the opposing party to resolve the dispute amicably.

IV. Start of Litigation in Poland

1. Lawsuit and launch of litigation proceedings

Ideally the lawsuit should contain:

  1. facts description
  2. legal reasoning
  3. all available arguments
  4. and available motions to admit evidence.

Evidence in a form of document or other tangible form should be attached or enclosed to the lawsuit. With respect to witnesses, their names and addresses shall be indicated in the lawsuit so they can be summoned by the court.

If any evidence is not listed, the plaintiff may have difficulties introducing it later, unless the delay was objectively justified or admission is separately allowed by the court.

2. Defense of the counterparty

Once the lawsuit is properly lodged to the court, the copy of it will be delivered to the defendant, indicating a period within which the defendant must respond — in practice almost always 14 days (however the court may provide a longer period).

The response / defense shall contain all arguments of the defendant and all motions to admit evidence.

V. Litigation Process

1. Court hearings

After the lawsuit and the defense have been filed, the Court sets the date and hour of the first hearing and notifies the parties in writing. Depending on the court and its location in Poland, the time between filing a response and the date of the first hearing is usually 2–9 months (the longer period applies to bigger cities).

Pre-trial hearings not available

In Polish commercial litigation and arbitration there is no institution of pre-trial hearings. If a case is brought, it always goes to trial and ends with a court decision. An exception may be the withdrawal of an action or the conclusion of a settlement by the parties during the trial.

Number of court hearings

In each case, the court generally sets several trial dates, depending on the number of witnesses and the complexity of the case. These dates are often far apart and do not occur day by day (intervals of several months).

2. Timeline of litigation

First, all witnesses are heard, and only at the end can the court hears the parties. Finally, before closing the litigation attorneys have time for closing speeches.

After this the court formally closes the hearing and issues the judgment.

Commercial litigation in Poland, depending on how complex the case is, takes couple of months (6 months) to up couple of years (even 5 years in complicated court disputes requiring witness experts) .

3. Evidence

The most common evidence in trials in Poland are documents, official documents, witness testimony, party testimony, expert opinion.


There is no hierarchy in terms of evidence, however, in practice, courts treat evidence from party testimony as of lesser value, as the parties have a direct interest in the outcome of the case.

Subpoena to present document

Courts may also require (demand) a party and other persons to provide a document if such is in their possession.

Expert Witness

In Polish litigation – expert witness may be only appointed by a judge and must be as independent and impartial as the court itself.

Private expert witnesses may be engaged by the parties to provide expert opinion but such opinion would be of lower evidentiary value for the court (in comparison to expert option provided at the direct order of the court).

Other evidence

Polish civil procedure does not limit evidentiary measures. As a rule – anything could potentially serve as evidence, this includes e-mail, photos, videos, audio recordings, blood samples, etc.

4. Settlement

At the beginning of each case, the judge encourages the parties to reach an agreement or enter into mediation.

The parties to the dispute can settle at any time before the judgment is issued (at both the first and second instance).

Settlement may be made either:

  • before the court - where the terms of the settlement are recorded in the minutes of the hearing and signed by the parties or their representatives, or
  • outside the court - where the terms of the settlement shall be delivered to the court for approval; in such case the plaintiff shall also request for case discontinuation (otherwise the litigation will proceed despite the concluded settlement).

One of the benefits of the settlement is that the plaintiff will be reimburse all or part of the court fee (depending on the timing of the settlement and the progress of the proceedings).

VI. Appeal

1. Request for written motives of the court ruling

Within 7 days from issuance of the judgment, a party may request a written justification (motives).

If the party intends to appeal the judgment, it must apply for written motives, otherwise appeal will not be permissible.

2. Deadline for appeal

When the written motives are delivered the party has 14 days to file an appeal to the court of second instance.

3. Court fee for appeal

The appeal is again subject to a court of 5 % of the case value. The fee as to be paid in advance within the 14 day deadline.

4. Appeal proceedings

The procedure before the court of second instance is similar to that before the court of first instance, except that the court of second instance does not carry out the evidence in its entirety but may only supplement it. There is usually only one hearing after which a decision is made.

The judgment of the court of second instance is final and cannot be appealed against.

VII. Enforcement of judgements

As a rule, as long as the judgement is not final (i.e., the appeal process is in progress) the judgement is not enforceable, unless the court furnishes it with immediate enforceability clause.

The enforcement clause is usually issued at the request of the plaintiff who is able to prove that absence of immediate enforcement proceedings may be detrimental.

VIII. Cassation Appeal to the Supreme Court

Moreover, in some cases, a party may file a cassation appeal to the Supreme Court of Poland. Supreme Court does not examine evidence or hear witnesses, but only adjudicates on the basis of facts already established in previous court instances. Accordingly, the Supreme Court does not constitute the third instance of civil procedure in Poland. Rather, it is an "extraordinary" court, hearing only some of the cases provided for in the Code of Civil Procedure.

For example, a cassation appeal is inadmissible if the value of the case is below PLN 50,000.

IX. Third party funding of dispute resolution

Litigation or arbitration funding is not overly popular in Poland, nonetheless it exists mainly with regards to major disputes or class actions.

X. FAQ - Litigation and Dispute Resolution in Poland

1. Do I have to appear in person in court in Poland to be heard as a party or witness?

No necessarily, it is currently possible to be heard remotely by videoconference or to give written testimony. In the case of an online hearing, a link is sent by the court with instructions to connect.

2. Is it possible to obtain reimbursement of legal costs?

Yes, if the case is won in its entirety, the court will award to the winning party from the other party the reimbursement of the costs of the trial and the reimbursement of the costs of representation by a professional lawyer in the amount regulated in the Regulation of the Minister of Justice. It is possible to apply for multiplication of this rate, especially in complex cases and where the workload of the litigation lawyer was above average.

In the case is only partially won, the costs are reimbursed only in proportion.

3. Is representation by a professional attorney before a court in Poland mandatory?

In most cases, no, but it is highly recommended.

4. Does the court take evidence ex officio, or do I have to prove all my claims myself?

Polish civil proceedings are based on adversarial rule which means that judges / courts role in evidence proceedings is very limited. When bringing a claim, it is therefore important to provide supporting evidence. Burden of proving facts lies on the person who gains legal benefit from that fact (i.e., as a rule - plaintiff).

5. Is there a system of precedent in Poland?

Polish judicial system is a typical continental system of law, therefore, as a rule, there is no precedent law in Poland.

Although the Polish legal system does not recognize or provide for precedents, attorneys and judges often make reference to 'established line of jurisprudence', which is formed by individual judgments issued by successive courts. It is this established line of jurisprudence that plays a very important role in the Polish legal system each time a dispute is resolved. This is despite the fact that this line of jurisprudence does not have a binding character and any court, including a court of first instance, may ignore it when resolving a dispute and issue a ruling completely different from the commonly accepted ones. In doing so, it may itself initiate a new line of case law. Of particular importance are the court rulings issued by the Supreme Court in Poland.

6. When the court ruling is enforceable?

As a rule, court judgments are enforceable after the judgment becomes final and the court issues an enforcement clause. The judgment becomes final and binding after lapse of the deadline for appealing. After that the party may request the court to issue the enforcement clause.

7. What documents do I need to start a case in Poland?

If you are a company you will need: 1. corporate excerpt from your company register, 2. power-of-attorney and 3. supporting evidence.

8. I have received the lawsuit from Poland – do I have to file a defense pleading?

Yes, if you don't answer the lawsuits within the given deadline the court may issue the judgement in default to your detriment.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.