A debt collection procedure can be started in Poland in the situation where a debtor is not willing to pay a debt or when he comes in financial impossibility to fulfill the payment.
After the fall of communism, Poland has pursued a policy of liberalizing the economy and today is one of the examples of successful transition from a state-run economy to a market economy.
The privatization of small and medium companies that were controlled by the government and the free right of establishment of new firms have allowed the development of powerfull private sector.
However, in the private sector, when a customer is unable or unwilling to pay an invoice overdue, it becomes a debtor and a procedure of debt collection can be raised against him.
In Poland the Law provides that a pre-trial procedure is mandatory, which mainly consists in amiable settlement between the parties. In this sense, the creditor has to inform the debtor several times and by multiple means (letters, e-mails and faxes) about the debt. The debtor must also be informed about the risks involved when he does not pay the debt.
Since 2011, when the debt collection procedure implies companies, the action comes in charge of the Business Court in Poland.
When the debtor does not answer to the creditor’s amiable attempt, the creditor has the right to bring the case before the Common Court to obtain a writ of payment.
When the case reaches this point there are two possibilities:
- Injunction: when the creditor has all the documents that prove the debt, the proof of delivery and the debtor’s recognition (signed and stamped) regarding the debt, situation in which the Court issues the writ of payment and charges the creditor with a 1,25% court fee and the second situation implies that the creditor. This procedure lasts about three month. When the creditor fills an appeal against the writ of payment, the case is transferred into a regular lawsuit.
- Writ proceedings: this procedure targets the situation when the creditor can not present the complete documentation and the missing document is the debtor’s recognition of the debt. However, when the rest of the documentation is accurate, the Court may issue a writ of payment. The court fees represent 5%, calculated in accordance to the amount of money to be recovered. The debtor is entitled to fill an appeal and he will not be charged with the costs of appeal. In this situation the case is turned into a regular lawsuit and in 75% of cases, when a final decision is issues in the creditor’s favor, the debtor is also charged with the costs involved in this procedure.
The trial procedure starts when the amiable settlement failed or when the debtor fills an appeal against the writ of payment.
The Polish regulations provide that a pre-procedure is required, which consists in exchanging proofs and statements in written between the parties until the court considers there is enough evidence to judge the case.
Both parties will be summoned to a court hearing where the judge will analyze the proofs given by both parties, will hear the statements and, in accordance to the law’s provisions, the court will schedule a date to publish the decision. Both creditor and debtor will be informed in written about the Court’s decision.
Both parties are entitled to fill an appeal against the decision issued by the court, action which will be solved by the court of second instance (local court to district court and district court to higher regional court).
The court costs are charged by three categories: flat rate fees, proportional fees and basic fees, depending on each action involved in the entire procedure. All the fees must be paid in advance for each step of the proceeding by the party who starts the action.
When the Court’s decision is taken in the creditor’s favor, all the court costs are charged to the debtor and are added to the initial claim.
The injunction and the writ proceedings usually take between two and four months, while the trial procedure can last for 12 moths or more, depending on the complexity of the case and the court’s availability.