Electronic writ proceedings, or how does e-court work?
Electronic writ of payment procedure (EPU) is an institution in the Polish judiciary that was introduced on January 1, 2010 on the basis of the amendment to the Code of Civil Procedure and is regulated by the provisions of Chapter I, Part VIII of the Civil Procedure Code. Thanks to the EPU, it is possible to pursue claims without the need to appear at hearings - to file a claim, all you need to do is log in to the e-court website. Claims that can be pursued before e-court are strictly defined - they must be amounts expressed in money, 1.25% of the value of which amounts to at least PLN 30. In addition, the amount of the claim may be pursued if it has become due within three years prior to the date on which the claim is brought.
E-court and electronic writ proceedings
The e-court, or actually VI Civil Division of the Lublin-West District Court, is seated in Lublin. It is the only court in Poland adjudicating in cases brought via the Internet. That is why it does not cover only one district of Lublin, but all of Poland. The place of residence of the parties is not important for the e-court, and the lawsuit may also be brought from countries other than Poland, provided that the place of residence or seat of the parties (or at least the correspondence address) is in our country.
Type of cases dealt with in e-court
Only pecuniary claims are pursued in electronic writ proceedings. The prerequisite is that the amount of the liability should be specified in a clear, distinct and understandable way, and that the obligation to pay results directly from the documents provided by the claimant. These can be invoices, various types of contracts, bills or orders. Due to the fact that no evidence proceedings are carried out in electronic writ proceedings, there should be no doubts as to the existence of an obligation to pay on the part of the debtor and, at the same time, his failure to comply with it. It is also worth mentioning that the claimant is not obliged to attach evidence to the statement of claim - he only has to indicate it, describing it in detail.
Electronic writ of payment proceedings - speed of the proceedings
Proceedings before e-court fully comply with the principle of speed of proceedings - they are extremely efficient and effective. The fact that there are no hearings before the e-court, and the entire proceedings are conducted remotely, significantly reduces the duration of the trial - the creditor may receive an order for payment within a few days or weeks.
Proceedings before e-court
Proceedings before the e-court begin when the claimant files a claim via the website - e-sad.gov.pl. The plaintiff can do it himself or through an attorney-at-law or legal adviser. It is possible to bring a statement of claim only if the claimant creates an account on the website - for this reason, the claimants decide to use the services of a professional attorney who usually already has a profile in the e-court system, and is also better versed in the topography and operation of the website e -court.
A fee must be paid when filing a claim in electronic writ proceedings. According to Art. 19 of the Act on court costs in civil cases, it amounts to ¼ of the fee paid in ordinary proceedings - thus it is 1.25% of the value of the subject of the dispute, i.e. the value of the pecuniary claim pursued in the lawsuit. However, this sum may not be less than PLN 30.
The claimant submits all letters to the court in electronic form. Conversely, the exchange of letters between the defendant and the court takes place in a traditional way, unless the defendant initiates the electronic communication first. In such a case, letters filed later in the traditional form do not produce procedural effects. The court is obliged to inform the defendant about this in the payment order.
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As a rule, the defendant does not bring any letters to the court. He may submit an objection to the payment order within 14 days. Importantly, the objection does not have to be filed on the form or contain arguments or evidence refuting the claimant's claims.It is enough to indicate the court that issued the order, the date of its issue, the case reference number, the title of the letter ("Opposition to the order for payment"), as well as the sentence "I object to the order for payment". If the letter contains all these elements and was filed in a timely manner, the order for payment automatically loses its legal force and the court transfers the case to a common court having local and material jurisdiction. Filing an objection to an order for payment in electronic writ proceedings is free of court fees.
If the court, in the course of the proceedings (i.e. from the content of the statement of claim), finds that:
- the facts described by the plaintiff raise doubts (the plaintiff did not include the reasons on the basis of which he / she is demanding payment from the defendant),
- the claim is obviously unfounded (the amount claimed by the plaintiff was supposed to be a payment for a service that the plaintiff did not perform),
- the satisfaction of the claim depends on the mutual benefit (the claimant has failed to meet his / her benefit),
- the place of residence of the defendant is unknown or if the service could not be served in the country,
- does not issue an order for payment and transfers the case to the court according to general jurisdiction.
Advantages and disadvantages of electronic writ of payment
Electronic writ of payment has many advantages for creditors. It does not generate many costs - when submitting a claim on the e-form, you have to pay a court fee, but it is much lower than in the case of stationary writ proceedings, and e-proceedings do not require the employment of a litigation representative. Due to the remote nature of the e-trial, the parties also do not have to bear the costs of traveling to the court. In addition, payment orders are issued very quickly and, if the defendant does not object, they become valid just as quickly - within 14 days. There are also plans to create an IT system that allows for the submission of a legally binding payment order issued in electronic proceedings directly to the bailiff, also via the network. Moreover, in the EPU there is no requirement to prove that the obligation exists as indicated by the reason - it only needs to substantiate that this was the case.
For the defendants, in turn electronic writ of payment however, it is not so beneficial. The Code of Civil Procedure does not provide for the possibility of responding to the claim. Therefore, the debtor cannot prove that he has performed the service or that the act from which the obligation arises did not take place. Also, the issue of deliveries is not comfortable for him - it is not uncommon that the addresses provided by plaintiffs in lawsuits are incorrect or out of date. The possibility of raising an objection depends on the receipt of the pleadings - including the order for payment itself.
Another disadvantage of the EPU is also the fact that in the event of an objection being raised, the court will refer the case to the locally competent court - which, according to some, means that the introduction of the e-court institution into the Polish legal system is unnecessary.