Group proceedings – what are they?

Group proceedings are a new mechanism for pursuing claims in court introduced into the Polish legal system by the Act of 17 December 2009 on Pursuing Claims in Group Proceedings (Journal of Laws of 2010, No. 7, item 44); hereinafter referred to as: the “Act”).

The Act entered into force on 19 July 2010 and up to now has been amended three time, firstly by the Act of 7 April 2017 on the amendment of certain acts to facilitate redress which entered into force on 1 June 2017 (hereinafter Amendment no. 1 ), consecutively the Act of 4 July 2019 on Amendments to the Code of Civil Procedure, which in the scope of amendments to the Act partially entered into force on 21 August 2019 as well as partially on 7 November 2019 (hereinafter “Amendment no. 2”) and most recently, the Act of December 1, 2022 amending the Act on handling complaints by financial market entities and on the Financial Ombudsman and certain other acts (hereinafter: “Amendment No. 3”).

The current text of the Act is available here.

The basic aim of group proceedings is to facilitate pursuing many individual but similar claims within one court procedure. The fundamental rationale of this regulation was to increase effectiveness of legal protection and make access to justice easier.

The Act regulates only procedural issues, i.e. it only defines the procedure used to examine class actions.  With respect to issues not regulated by the Act, in the group proceedings the provisions of the Code of Civil Procedure apply. The Act, however, does not affect the substantive law grounds of the claims pursued in group proceedings. Appropriate provisions of the substantive law (e.g. provisions of the Civil Code governing compensatory liability) decide whether a claim exists or not.