New civil law procedure regulations that entered into force on 1 July, 2023, include changes to rules regarding consumer-trader litigation. This amendment could have a major impact on foreign enterprises operating in Poland, if a consumer takes legal action against them in Poland, or if the enterprise pursues claims in Poland against a consumer.

This new legislation is intended to make a trader that is in litigation with a consumer subject to more stringent procedural requirements than the other party in the case. Thus the consumer has a stronger position in the legal proceedings,

on the grounds that a trader has an economic advantage over the consumer. The additional procedural requirements placed on the trader will be mandatory, and it will not be possible to exclude them even if the trader ceases business activity for the duration of the dispute.

The changes described above mean the following:

  • A consumer will be able to pursue a legal action against a trader before the court with jurisdiction over their place of residence (the usual rule is that the seat of the defendant applies), except when exclusive jurisdiction is specified;
  • The trader will be required to submit all assertions and evidence in the statement of claim or response to the statement of claim with the time limit stipulated by the court, depending on their role in the case; this also applies if the trader does not have professional legal representation;
  • Failure to comply with this obligation will result in subsequent assertions and evidence being disregarded, except where the trader can provide credible evidence that before that time they were unable to or it was not necessary to cite that evidence in the statement of claim or response to the statement of claim; in such a situation, the trader will be granted a further two weeks to present the new assertions and evidence;
  • The cost of the court proceedings is to be paid by the trader regardless of the outcome of the case, if, before the statement of claim was filed, the trader made no attempt to resolve the dispute amicably, was unwilling to take part in talks to reach a settlement with the consumer, or attended the talks but acted in bad faith and thus caused legal action to be taken unnecessarily or did not define the subject of the case correctly.

To summarize, none of the legal requirements

now introduced pertain to consumers.

On the other hand, litigation with a consumer will be more difficult for traders.

When formulating strategy for the litigation, a trader will have to consider more stringent requirements in terms of proving their case before the court, and be well prepared for the dispute with the consumer.