Decision of the Court of Appeals in Warsaw 1st Civil Division of 4th July 2014
I ACz 995/14
- The issue of the statute of limitations is not examined at the stage of determining the composition of the group.
- The catalogue of prerequisites for the admissibility of group proceedings stems from Articles 1 and 2 of the Act on Pursuing Claims in Group Proceedings and includes: the size of the group, homogeneity of claims, similarity of the factual basis, subject matter of the claim included in the statutory catalogue – Article 1(2), type of case – Article 1(2), and for the admissibility of group proceedings in cases involving monetary claims (provided that the claim is not limited to a request to establish the defendant’s liability) – standardisation of the claims of each member. These conditions are listed exhaustively and must be met jointly.
- The Act on Pursuing Claims in Group Proceedings does not draw a clear line between the prerequisites of admissibility of group proceedings and the prerequisite of belonging to a group. Although the subject-matter of the examination at the stage of determining the composition of a group is the verba legis ‘determination of a member’s membership of the group’, the confirmation of ‘membership of the group’ is in fact a confirmation that the prerequisites of admissibility of the procedure are met in each individual case of a person seeking to join the group. It is therefore only to the extent indicated above that it is admissible to examine the charges concerning membership in a group.
- The decision on the determination of the composition of the group must be attributed key importance in group proceedings. It should be indicated that it is not the declaration of a person to join a group but only the court’s decision on the composition of the group that ultimately determines the composition of the group in group proceedings. With regard to the final determination of the composition of a group, the subjective framework of group proceedings is outlined, as the essence of group proceedings is the pursuit of claims of one type by a group of at least ten persons. The final decision of the court on the composition of the group concludes the second stage of the group proceedings, at the same time terminating the findings on the subjective and objective scope of the case.
- The mere fact of raising the charge of the limitation period does not yet definitively prejudge the dismissal of an action. Before taking such a decision, the court must verify whether the defendant’s claim, that the limitation period has expired, is substantiated in law and in fact. This means that the raised claim of the limitation period may only be resolved in the course of the examination proceedings, and this phase of the proceedings begins after the decision on the composition of the group has been made and ends with the content-related ruling.