Despite the current, relatively good epidemic situation, Poland has introduced further regulations aimed at adjusting civil court procedures to the pandemic situation.
Electronic service of court documents
Most importantly, the Polish legislator has allowed on a wider scale for electronic service of court documents in civil cases. Such method of service will be a main option, but only with respect to documents prepared by the court and delivered to professional representatives. Service will be made through a special portal that has been in operation for several years now, but so far only for information purposes.
In theory, electronic service of court documents should speed up the court proceedings. The process of delivering court documents has been considered as one of the major reasons for often prolonged proceedings before Polish courts. However, there are practical doubts. Firstly, it is not clear whether such a service will be effective with regard to professional representatives who do not have an access to the portal and whether the new regulations imply that they are obliged to obtain such access. Secondly, it seems that the portal users have a possibility to delay opening of a document being served for 14 days from the day the document is uploaded to the portal. This will delay the date of service as a document will be considered served when an addressee got acquainted with its contents.
Reduced number of judges hearing appeals and complaints
Another important change is that appeals against first instance decisions will now be heard by a single judge, instead of a panel three as before. In addition to reducing the spread of the epidemic, this can also be expected to help the second instance courts keep up with incoming cases.
Electronic real estate auction in enforcement proceedings
One more novelty is the possibility for the creditors, seeking satisfaction of the adjudicated payments from a debtor’s real estate, to request a sale of any of the debtor’s real estate through an electronic auction. This solution is expected to speed up enforcement proceedings as well as to improve their transparency and effectiveness, as such form of sale is likely to attract a wider range of potential buyers.
The regulations entered into force on July 3rd. They will remain in effect during the official COVID-19 state of emergency and for one year after it is officially lifted, except for provisions regarding electronic auction, which will remain. It appears that electronic service will remain a permanent part of the court proceedings for good, possibly tough, in a slightly modified form.