Decision of the Regional Court in Warsaw 3rd Civil Division of 13th September 2016
III C 1089/15
- The essence of group proceedings is the commonality manifested in the demand which must be generic (common) for all claims. Therefore, a demand raised by the group representative in a class action must be generic for the entire group he or she represents. The condition indicated means that a legal or factual situation of members of the group must be the same, while the claim pursued must be homogenous (homogeneity of the claims) since only then a joint demand may be raised.
- The requirement of a similar factual basis of claims does not mean that all the circumstances of the case must be identical for each member of the group because, even where the claim is based on an identical basis, there will always be individual circumstances, concerning specific members of the group. The condition of the identical factual basis is met when the facts substantiating the existence of a specific legal relationship which is the basis of the claims are identical in relation to all members of the group.
- The notion of ‘a claim’ used in Article 1 of the Act on Pursuing Claims in Group Proceedings appears in the meaning of a demand in proceedings. It is impossible to assume that it appears in the substantive law meaning, which should be understood exclusively as a possibility to demand a specific conduct from a given person. Consequently, this notion should not be given a meaning taken strictly from substantive law. Therefore, a claim in proceedings is constituted by a claimant’s claim detached from substantive law and regarding the existence of a certain right, presented to the court in order for it to be granted legal protection.
- In light of Article 1 (1) of the Act on Pursuing Claims in Group Proceedings, the pursued claims must be homogenous, i.e. of one kind and based on an equal factual basis. Claims based on an equal factual basis are claims based on an equal factual basis (a sensu stricte prerequisite) or claims having common factual circumstances (a sensu largo prerequisite). The existence of minor differences between individual bases of claims does not eliminate the possibility of pursuing these claims in these proceedings, nevertheless, it is necessary for the substantial factual circumstances to substantiate the demand common for all the claims.
- The assessment of a group member’s status as a consumer is not influenced by education, experience, or practiced profession, whereas at the later stage, while examining the content-related legitimacy of the action, deciding whether the content of the questioned contractual provision shaped in the course of the conducted negotiations and establishing how a given provision was understood by parties will be of substantial significance.
- In compliance with requirements included in the contents of Article 2 of the Act, claims may be standardised on the basis of common circumstances of the case, and therefore similar for the group members and simultaneously different to those which were decisive for the formation of other groups. The standardisation of claims which is a condition of admissibility of conducting a class action may come down to assuming a lump sum value of claims for all claimants (at least within a subgroup) not exceeding the lowest claim due to one of them.