“A court ruling issued in an EU country – how to enforce it in Poland?”

Conducting business in a foreign country is inherently connected with non-payment problems from the customers’ side. The significant presence of foreign business in Poland makes this issue compelling for investors and entrepreneurs. Fortunately, through the adoption and entry into force on 10th January 2015 of the Regulation (EU) no 1215/2012 of the European parliament and of the Council of 12 December 2012 on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters, enforcement of a court’s ruling issued by a court in any EU country is to be less difficult than it was during the past decade.

Currently, a creditor from an EU country that is willing to execute a payment adjudged against a Polish debtor by a court of law from such an EU country can easily execute the due amount in Poland. Such execution is widely practiced, as in the majority of cases the debtor’s asset is situated in Poland, so enforcement proceedings performed in Poland are conducted faster and often more successfully.

The only formality which the creditor needs to comply with is submission of an enforcement motion to a Polish bailiff together with a copy of the court’s ruling issued in the EU country and a copy of a certificate issued by this court (with a sworn translation into Polish) which includes the most important information resulting from the verdict, such as the sum of money of which payment was ordered, the interest rate and method of its calculation, as well as the court fees.

A court ruling issued in an EU country is not subject to any declaration of an enforceability procedure in Poland and the creditor submits the documents directly to a chosen bailiff in Poland.

Once the enforcement motion with the attachments is submitted, the bailiff informs the debtor about the commencement of the enforcement proceedings by delivering a copy of the enforcement motion and a copy of the certificate issued by the court of law in the EU country. The debtor is authorized to challenge the enforceability of the court ruling before a Polish court of law, however such actions do not withhold execution (unless the Polish court of law decides to suspend it).

The rule which remains unchanged, regardless of whether the executed court ruling is issued by a Polish or a foreign court, is that the more information about debtor’s assets the creditor has, the faster and the more successful the execution might be. This is why it is advisable that from the very beginning of business cooperation, the future creditor assembles information on the debtor’s bank account numbers, fixed assets (e.g cars, machines, valuable equipment) or real estate. Such data will be helpful in case the customer does not fulfill his payment obligations and execution proceedings are initiated.

What needs to be stressed is that unless an agreement between a Polish and an EU contractor stipulates otherwise, an EU creditor is authorized (although not obliged) to sue his Polish debtor directly before a Polish court (and not before the court of law of the place of the creditor’s residence). Such proceedings usually help to save time (the ruling is issued in Poland and the enforcement proceedings are also conducted in Poland) and sometimes also costs (e.g sworn translation costs).

In most cases it is up to the creditor, who chooses the most suitable way to deal with his business issues.