1 Legal framework
1.1 What is the relevant legislation on arbitration in your jurisdiction? Are there any significant limitations on the scope of the statutory regime – for example, does it govern oral arbitration agreements?
Arbitration is regulated at the basic statutory level in Part 5 of the Polish Civil Procedure Code (CPC). More specific regulations are included in the statutes of particular arbitration courts (eg, the statutes of the Court of Arbitration at the Polish Chamber of Commerce). Under the provisions of the CPC, an arbitration agreement must be concluded in writing.
1.2 Does this legislation differentiate between domestic arbitration and international arbitration? If so, how is each defined?
The provisions of Polish law regulate domestic arbitration only and there are few references to proceedings pending abroad. Where an award is issued abroad or a settlement agreement is made before an arbitral tribunal abroad, the Polish courts will decide on the recognition or enforcement thereof following a hearing.
1.3 Is the arbitration legislation in your jurisdiction based on the UNCITRAL Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration?
Yes, following major amendments to the CPC in 2005, the Polish provisions on arbitration have been harmonised with the UNCITRAL Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration.
1.4 Are all provisions of the legislation in your jurisdiction mandatory?
Numerous provisions of the law have mandatory application, but there are also many which are left up to the parties, such as those regarding the choice of governing law and procedure or the appointment of the arbitrators.
1.5 Are there any current plans to amend the arbitration legislation in your jurisdiction?
The latest significant amendments to the CPC were introduced in 2019. Currently, no further significant amendments are planned.
1.6 Is your jurisdiction a signatory to the New York Convention? If so, have any reservations been made?
Yes, Poland ratified the New York Convention in 1961 and formulated the reservations as specified in Article I, Section 3 - that is, the reservation of reciprocity and a condition that arbitration awards which may be recognised or enforced under the convention must involve commercial disputes as understood under Polish law. However, these reservations were not repeated upon ratification of the convention. It is therefore a matter of controversy as to whether Poland is a signatory to the convention with or without reservations.
1.7 Is your jurisdiction a signatory to any other treaties relevant to arbitration?
Poland is a signatory to the following conventions:
- the European Convention on International Trade Arbitration, signed in Geneva on 21 April 1961;
- the Protocol on Arbitration Clauses, signed in Geneva on 24 September 1923; and
- the Washington Convention, signed on 18 March 1965.
2 Arbitrability and restrictions on arbitration
2.1 How is it determined whether a dispute is arbitrable in your jurisdiction?
In principle, any disputes involving property or non-property rights - subject to limited number of exceptions indicated in the CPC - regardless of whether they meet the criterion of amicability, may be resolved by arbitration court. Furthermore, any disputes arising out of the commercial company relationship are arbitrable.
2.2 Are there any restrictions on the choice of seat of arbitration for certain disputes?
The choice of seat is at the parties' entire disposal. If the seat of arbitration is not determined either by the parties or by the arbitral tribunal, it shall be deemed to be in Poland if the final award is issued there.
3 Arbitration agreement
3.1 What are the validity requirements for an arbitration agreement in your jurisdiction?
The arbitration agreement must:
- be in writing (this includes letters exchanged by means of telecommunication);
- specify the matter at issue or the legal relationship from which a dispute has arisen or may arise; and
- respect the principle of equality of the parties.
More specific requirements apply to labour law disputes and disputes with consumers.
3.2 Are there any provisions of legislation or any other legal sources in your jurisdiction concerning the separability of arbitration agreements?
3.3 Are there provisions on the seat and/or language of the arbitration if there is no agreement between the parties?
Under Polish law, if the parties fail to choose the seat and/or language of arbitration, the arbitral tribunal will decide thereon, having regard to the circumstances of the dispute.
4 Objections to jurisdiction
4.1 When must a party raise an objection to the jurisdiction of the tribunal and how can this objection be raised?
A party should raise an objection to jurisdiction of the tribunal in its statement of defence at the latest, but in any case before entering into a dispute on the merits.
4.2 Can a tribunal rule on its own jurisdiction?
The arbitral tribunal may rule on its own jurisdiction, including on the existence, validity or effectiveness of the arbitration agreement.
4.3 Can a party apply to the courts of the seat for a ruling on the jurisdiction of the tribunal? In what circumstances?
If the arbitral tribunal dismisses the objection, either party may, within two weeks of being served with the decision, seek a ruling from a court on the issue. The initiation of court proceedings does not stay the arbitration. The court's decision may be appealed.
5 The parties
5.1 Are there any restrictions on who can be a party to an arbitration agreement?
5.2 Are the parties under any duties in relation to the arbitration?
No, arbitration is fully voluntary. If the parties decide on arbitration, there is an obligation to pay the arbitrators' fees.
5.3 Are there any provisions of law which deal with multi-party disputes?
6 Applicable law issues
6.1 How is the law of the arbitration agreement determined in your jurisdiction?
The Polish courts have domestic jurisdiction in cases governed by Polish law if the seat of arbitration is in Poland. The Polish courts also have domestic jurisdiction if Polish law provides for court action related to arbitration whose seat is outside Poland or has not been determined.
6.2 Will the tribunal uphold a party agreement as to the substantive law of the dispute? Where the substantive law is unclear, how will the tribunal determine what it should be?
The parties are solely authorised to decide on the seat of arbitration, which, under Polish law, determines the jurisdiction of the Polish courts. No specific provision is applicable when the substantive law is unclear; in such case, the rules on lack of choice of seat of arbitration apply (see question 12).
7 Consolidation and third parties
7.1 Does the law in your jurisdiction permit consolidation of separate arbitrations into a single arbitration proceeding? Are there any conditions which apply to consolidation?
There are no statutory provisions on the consolidation of separate arbitrations into a single proceeding. This notwithstanding, the statutes of the Court of Arbitration at the Polish Chamber of Commerce provide for consolidation under specified conditions.
7.2 Does the law in your jurisdiction permit the joinder of additional parties to an arbitration which has already commenced?
There are no statutory provisions on the joinder of additional parties. However, the statutes of the Court of Arbitration at the Polish Chamber of Commerce permit the joinder of third parties.
7.3 Does an arbitration agreement bind assignees or other third parties?
There are no specific provisions on this matter. However, according to the general rule of Polish civil law, the assignment of rights and obligations requires the parties' consent.
8 The tribunal
8.1 How is the tribunal appointed?
The parties are free to agree on the procedure for appointing the arbitrators. In the absence of such agreement, the arbitrators are appointed as follows:
- If the panel is to be composed of an uneven number of arbitrators, each party shall appoint the same number of arbitrators and the arbitrators thus appointed shall appoint the presiding arbitrator. If a party fails to appoint the arbitrator or arbitrators within one month of receipt of a request from the other party to do so, or if the arbitrators appointed by the parties fail to agree on the presiding arbitrator within one month of their appointment, the arbitrator or arbitrators or the presiding arbitrator shall be appointed by the court at the request of any of the parties.
- If there is to be a sole arbitrator and the parties fail to appoint the arbitrator within one month of receipt of a request that the arbitrator be jointly appointed, the arbitrator shall be appointed by the court at the request of any of the parties.
- If the panel is to be composed of an even number of arbitrators, each party shall appoint the same number of arbitrators and the arbitrators shall appoint the presiding arbitrator from among themselves. If a party fails to appoint the arbitrator or arbitrators within one month of receipt of a request from the other party to do so, or if the arbitrators appointed by the parties fail to appoint the presiding arbitrator within one month of their appointment, the arbitrator or arbitrators or the presiding arbitrator shall be appointed by the court at the request of any of the parties.
8.2 Are there any requirements as to the number or qualification of arbitrators in your jurisdiction?
The parties are free to specify the number of arbitrators in their agreement. In the absence of such determination, the number of arbitrators should be three.
8.3 Can an arbitrator be challenged in your jurisdiction? If so, on what basis? Are there any restrictions on the challenge of an arbitrator?
An arbitrator can be challenged upon one party's request or based on the parties' mutual decision. An arbitrator may be challenged only if there are circumstances giving rise to justifiable doubts as to his or her impartiality or independence, or if he or she does not possess the required qualifications. A party which appointed or participated in the appointment of an arbitrator may challenge him or her only for reasons which became known to it after the appointment. The parties are free to agree on the procedure for challenging an arbitrator.
8.4 If a challenge is successful, how is the arbitrator replaced?
A new (substitute) arbitrator is appointed in accordance with the nomination procedure that applied for the appointment of his or her predecessor.
8.5 What duties are imposed on arbitrators? Are these all imposed by legislation?
A general statutory rule of impartiality and independence applies to arbitrators. They are also obliged to disclose to the parties any circumstances likely to give rise to doubts as to their impartiality or independence.
8.6 What powers does an arbitrator have in relation to: (a) procedure, including evidence; (b) interim relief; (c) parties which do not comply with its orders; (d) issuing partial final awards; (e) the remedies it can grant in a final award and (f) interest?
(a) Procedure, including evidence?
The arbitral tribunal may hear witnesses, examine documents and make inspections, as well as examine any other necessary evidence. However, it may not apply coercive measures.
Unless otherwise agreed by the parties, the arbitral tribunal may also:
- appoint one or more experts to provide a report; and
- require a party to give the expert any relevant information or to produce documents.
(b) Interim relief?
Except as otherwise agreed by the parties, the tribunal may, at the request of a party which has substantiated its claim, grant such interim measures as it considers appropriate considering the matter at issue. When issuing a decision in this regard, the tribunal may make enforcement of an order to grant an interim measure contingent on the provision of appropriate security.
At the request of a party, the tribunal may also vary or set aside an order issued.
(c) Parties which do not comply with its orders?
The tribunal may not apply any coercive measures.
(d) Issuing partial final awards?
While the courts may issue partial judgments and preliminary verdicts, the situation is different in ad hoc arbitration, where the parties themselves determine the rules of conduct. The doctrine assumes that if the parties have not explicitly excluded this option, an ad hoc arbitration court may also make a partial or initial judgment where this is justified by the circumstances of the case. Each party has the right to submit a request for a partial or initial judgment to the tribunal, which alone has the power to decide whether such request should be granted.
(e) The remedies it can grant in a final award?
Generally, the arbitration award should include the determination of the arbitration agreement on the basis of which the verdict was handed down, and the parties' and arbitrators' designation, as well as the date and place of its publication.
An arbitration award should also include a decision on the costs of the proceedings (ie, all administrative fees, arbitration fees, remuneration of arbitrators and experts, costs of legal representation and any other costs incurred by the parties). The obligation to adjudicate in the award on the costs of the arbitration proceedings and the extent to which these costs are to be allocated between the parties is highlighted in the regulations of leading permanent arbitration courts.
The regulations do not specify whether the arbitral tribunal may grant the remedies in a final award.
The tribunal may award interest on the amount awarded in the judgment.
8.7 How may a tribunal seated in your jurisdiction proceed if a party does not participate in the arbitration?
If a party fails to appear at a hearing or to produce documents it is obliged to produce, the tribunal may continue the arbitration and issue an award on the evidence before it, unless that party justifies its failure to appear or act (except where otherwise agreed by the parties).
8.8 Are arbitrators immune from liability?
In principle, the arbitrators should bear civil liability for damage caused intentionally, based on the provisions of Polish civil law. Beyond this, however, the parties are free to determine the liability of arbitrators and no provisions regulate this issue. The rule of irresponsibility of arbitrators, excluding cases of intentional guilt, is enshrined in the statutes of the two principal Polish tribunals: the Court of Arbitration of Lewiatan and the Court of Arbitration at the Polish Chamber of Commerce.
Only one provision of the Civil Procedure Code refers to the matter of liability; it provides that an arbitrator who resigns without cause is liable for any resulting damage.
9 The role of the court during an arbitration
9.1 Will the court in your jurisdiction stay proceedings and refer parties to arbitration if there is an arbitration agreement?
If there is an arbitration agreement, the court must reject a statement of claim if the defendant or respondent invokes the arbitration agreement before defending on the merits of the case.
9.2 Does the court in your jurisdiction have any powers in relation to an arbitration seated in your jurisdiction and/or seated outside your jurisdiction? What are these powers? Under what conditions are these powers exercised?
The court's obligation to reject a statement of claim also applies if the seat of arbitration is outside Poland or has not been determined.
The powers of the court include the power to decide on the statutory grounds for refusing recognition or enforcement, and on the recognition or enforcement of an award issued abroad or a settlement agreement made before a tribunal abroad (following a hearing).
9.3 Can the parties exclude the court's powers by agreement?
The parties have no such entitlement.
10.1 How will the tribunal approach the issue of costs?
The costs of arbitration are set out in the statutes issued by the tribunals. The costs are divided into registration (administration) fees, arbitration fees and other expenditures.
10.2 Are there any restrictions on what the parties can agree in terms of costs in an arbitration seated in your jurisdiction?
11.1 Is third-party funding permitted for arbitrations seated in your jurisdiction?
The Civil Procedure Code does not provide for third-party funding.
12.1 What procedural and substantive requirements must be met by an award?
An award should be made in writing and signed by the arbitrators. If the award was issued by three or more arbitrators, the signatures of all members of the tribunal shall be provided. The lack of an arbitrator's signature requires a justification.
An award should state:
- the reasons on which it is based;
- the arbitration agreement on the basis of which it was issued;
- the names of the parties and the arbitrators; and
- the date and place of its issuance.
The award should be served on each party.
12.2 Must the award be produced within a certain timeframe?
According to Rules of the Court of Arbitration at the Polish Chamber of Commerce, the judgment should be issued within 9 months from the date of initiation of proceedings and no later than 30 days from the closing of the hearing. The Director General may, ex officio or at the request of the chairman's arbitrator, extend any of the above time limits if justified by the complexity of the problems involved in the dispute or other legitimate considerations.
13 Enforcement of awards
13.1 Are awards enforced in your jurisdiction? Under what procedure?
Awards are enforced on the application of a party to the appellate court, which will act based on the relevant provisions on appeals in the Civil Procedure Code.
The court will enforce an award by issuing a writ of enforcement. An award or a settlement agreement made before an arbitral tribunal which has been declared enforceable constitutes an enforcement title.
14 Grounds for challenging an award
14.1 What are the grounds on which an award can be challenged, appealed or otherwise set aside in your jurisdiction?
A party may apply for an arbitral award to be set aside if:
- there was no arbitration agreement or the arbitration agreement is invalid, unenforceable or no longer effective in accordance with applicable law;
- the applicant was not given proper notice of the appointment of an arbitrator or of the arbitration, or was otherwise deprived of the right to present its case or respond to the other party's case before the tribunal;
- the award deals with a dispute that the arbitration agreement does not cover or contains a decision on a matter that goes beyond the scope of such agreement;
- the requirements regarding the composition of the arbitral tribunal or the fundamental rules of procedure before such tribunal, as provided for by the law or specified by the parties, were not complied with;
- the award was obtained by means of an offence or on the basis of a forged or altered document; or
- a final and non-revisable court judgment has been issued in the same matter between the same parties.
An arbitral award shall also be set aside if the court finds that:
- the dispute cannot be resolved by arbitration in accordance with the law; or
- the award is contrary to the fundamental principles of the legal order of Poland (public policy clause).
14.2 Are there are any time limits and/or other requirements to bring a challenge?
An application to set aside an award must be filed with the appellate court within two months of service of the award or, if a request for correction or interpretation of the award or for the issuance of an additional award is made, within two months of service of the relevant decision by the arbitral tribunal.
14.3 Are parties permitted to exclude any rights of challenge or appeal?
No, these provisions are mandatory.
15.1 Is arbitration seated in your jurisdiction confidential? Is a duty of confidentiality found in the arbitration legislation?
There is no general rule on confidentiality in arbitration. Nevertheless, the statutes of the Court of Arbitration at the Polish Chamber of Commerce, for example, provide for the confidentiality of proceedings unless the parties agree otherwise.
15.2 Are there any exceptions to confidentiality?
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.