Announcement on commencement of the group proceedings
an announcement published by a court in a widely available national or local press (depending on the nature of the case). The announcement informs on the initiation of a precisely defined group proceedings, indicates the conditions to be met by a given person to become a member of the group, and sets the deadline by which further persons may join the group. The announcement must also provide information on the manner of remuneration of the group representative’s legal counsel and contain a notice that the judgement that will be issued in the group proceedings shall be binding upon all group members (persons covered by the scope of the decision on the of composition of the group).
an ascertainment by a competent court that a given case meets the statutory preconditions for admissibility for its examination in the group proceedings; the certification is given after a court hearing, by virtue of court’s decision to examine a case in group proceedings; such a decision is subject to a complaint.
Common factual basis of claims
one of the preconditions for the admissibility for examination of a given case in group proceedings; this precondition is satisfied when all group members base their claims on the same (identical) or similar (equal) facts (see more: When are group proceedings allowed?).
Decision on admissibility of group proceedings
a decision issued by a competent court after the first stage of the group proceedings, i.e. the so-called certification. In such a decision the court decides that a given case meets all statutory requirements (preconditions) for examination of the case in group proceedings. By issuing such a decision, the court does not assess the legitimacy of the claims (for example, the court does not examine if the event causing the damage occurred and whether it may be qualified as a tort).
Declaration on joining the group
a written declaration which is submitted to the group representative by a person who intends to become a member of the group. This declaration must include: (1) an indication of the given person’s claim (i.e. it must indicate what a given person demands, e.g. determination of liability resulting from the improper performance of a contract or resulting from a specific tortious act), (2) indication of the circumstances substantiating such a claim and the right to participate in the group (e.g. circumstances substantiating the liability of a specific entity towards a “candidate” for a group member – said liability being the subject of the group proceedings). Furthermore, the declaration on joining the group should also contain presentation of evidence on which the claim and the right to participate in a group are based.
The law does not specify the precise form in which the declaration is to be made. In order to ensure the uniformity of such declarations its form is typically indicated by the group representative or its legal counsel by providing an appropriate form. The declaration on joining the group may be made before the initiation of group proceedings by the group representative or later on during the proceedings after publication of an announcement on the group proceedings in the press.
Decision on the composition of the group
a court decision indicating by name and surname (or names of corporate entities) members of the group on whose behalf the group proceedings are pending.
Deposit to secure the costs of the proceedings
an amount of money that the court may request from the group representative (claimant) as a deposit in group proceedings. This institution is intended to secure the costs of the proceedings to be incurred by the defendant. The defendant’s demand for the claimant to pay the deposit must be submitted upon the first procedural activity (this will usually be the reply to the statement of claims). The court determines the amount of the deposit at its own discretion, however, it must not exceed 20 % of the value of the object of the dispute. The court also determines the deadline for payment of the deposit which may not be shorter than one month. A failure to pay the deposit within the prescribed time limit results in rejection of the statement of claims (or means of appeal). The deposit must be paid in cash to the court’s deposit account.
Standardisation (equalisation) of claims
an additional precondition for admissibility for examination of a case in group proceedings which applies to pecuniary claims; this precondition means the necessity to standardize (equalize) the amount of claims pursued in group or in sub-groups comprising at least of two persons, with consideration of significant circumstances of the case which are common for such persons (see more: When are group proceedings allowed?).
natural or legal persons (including individuals and business entities) who decided to jointly pursue their claims in group proceedings and who for that purpose filed a declaration on joining the group and consented for a specific person to act in the capacity of a group representative; the members of the group are not a party to the group proceedings in a formal sense – only the representative of the group acting on their behalf is vested with this status.
a person who acts on behalf of a group in group proceedings and constitutes a party to these proceedings – the claimant. This person is selected by the members of the group who in their declarations on joining the group include a consent for a specific person to act in the capacity of the group representative. The representative can be a member of the group or, in the cases concerning consumer protection, a district (municipal) consumer ombudsman.
Homogeneity of claims
homogeneity of claims is one of the preconditions for the admissibility for examination of a given case in group proceedings; this criterion is met if claims of all group members are raised in the same form with respect to request for legal protection, i.e. all of them request adjudication of a specific performance (alternatively – declaration or shaping of a right or legal relationship) or all of them pursue the establishment of the defendant’s liability (see more: When are group proceedings allowed?).
Mandatory representation by a professional counsel
an obligation according to which the group representative must be represented before a court by a professional counsel, i.e. attorney-at-law or legal counsel (this obligation does not apply if the representative is an attorney-at-law or legal counsel). This means that the representative may not independently initiate group proceedings or perform other actions in these proceedings. The group representative must enter with the professional counsel into an agreement on representation in the proceedings. The act on pursuing claims in group proceedings requires such agreements to specify the manner of the professional counsel’s remuneration.
Rejection of the statement of claims
a decision in which court states that the case may not be examined in group proceedings; a result of this decision is that in a given case the existence (legitimacy) of the raised claims is not examined at all. Once the decision in this scope becomes final, the group proceedings generally end. Such a manner of a conclusion of the case results from the failure to meet some formal requirements. In particular, one should distinguish between the rejection of the statement of claims and the dismissal of the statement of claims; the latter is a decision on the merits stating that the claims of a given person are groundless. In group proceedings, the rejection of the statement of claims may be caused primarily by the court’s ascertainment that in a given case the formal preconditions for admissibility for examination of a given case in group proceedings are not met (see more: When are group proceedings allowed?) or by the failure to pay within the prescribed time limit the deposit to secure the costs of the proceedings. The decision on the rejection of the statement of claims may be challenged. The rejection of the statement of claims does not preclude possibility of filing individual claims by persons who initially intended to pursue their claims in group proceedings.
Leaving from the group
an action which consists of filing with the group’ representative a declaration on resignation from participation in group proceedings in the capacity of a group member. This is admissible, but only until the time the decision on the composition of the group becomes final and binding. Declarations on leaving from the group made after the lapse of such a time limit are deemed to be ineffective which means that the judgement issued in the case will be binding upon a given person.
a type of a court fee, i.e. a fee indicated in the Act of 28 July 2005 on court costs in civil cases (Journal of Laws of 2010, No. 90, item 594) payable for such procedural brief’s as the statement of claims, complaints, appeals, cassation complaints. The temporary fee is established in case as of the moment of filling of such a brief in a given case, it is not yet possible to indicate the value of the amount of the dispute. This type of fee may be applicable in group proceedings as well. The amount of a such fee is decided by the court which is examining the case, however, in group proceedings, it cannot be lower than PLN 100 and higher than PLN 10,000.
The Act on pursuing claims in group (class) proceedings
the Act of 17 December 2009 on pursuing claims in group (class) proceedings (Journal of Laws of 2010, No. 7, item 44) which introduces into the Polish legal system mechanism for collective pursuit of claims in judicial proceedings.