New payment terms in commercial transactions

Service Business

On April 28, 2013, a new act on payment deadlines in commercial transactions entered into force. The main assumption of the introduced changes is to fight the increasingly common problem - payment gridlocks. The main tool used for this purpose is the shortening of payment terms in commercial transactions and the introduction of additional sanctions for debtors. The amendment to the regulations also results from the need to adapt Polish law to EU regulations.

The problem of untimely payment of receivables by contractors affects a significant percentage of companies. Earlier attempts to limit abuses in this area were the introduction of the so-called bad debt relief.

Introduction of maximum payment terms.

The new act, among many regulations, provides for the rule that payment terms in transactions between entrepreneurs should not exceed 60 calendar days. The parties may establish a longer period, provided that - as provided by the Act - it is not grossly unfair to the creditor, i.e. "it will not be contrary to the property and socio-economic purpose of the contract or the principles of social coexistence, and will be objectively justified, taking into account the property of the goods. or services ".

Taking into account the fact that payment backlogs occur in transactions not only between entrepreneurs, but also when the parties to the contract are public authorities, the legislator has provided for a maximum payment period also in this case. Pursuant to the new act, in a situation where the debtor is a public authority, the payment deadline may not exceed 30 days from the date of delivery of the invoice or bill. Here, too, it is possible to extend the period, but with an upper limit of 60 days, if "it is objectively justified by a specific nature (complexity, complexity of procedures, multiple entities involved, multi-stage) or specific elements of the contract".

Another tool with which the fight against arrears is to be waged is interest. Has been maintained ...

The principle of charging interest after 30 days from the date of delivery of the invoice.

The new act retains the provision that allows the creditor to demand statutory interest from the debtor (13% per annum) in the case of contracts with a payment term longer than 30 days, as a fee for the so-called trade credit. Pursuant to this regulation, the interest may be charged from the 31st day after the non-cash payment is rendered and the invoice or bill is delivered, until the date of payment, but no longer than until the payment date is due.

If, after 60 days, the debtor still does not pay, the creditor is entitled to default interest, as in the case of tax liabilities (currently at 11.5% per annum).

These regulations are intended to encourage shorter payment terms. Most often, however, entrepreneurs, wishing to protect the quality of their contacts with the debtor, do not use their right to interest. A new solution, which is a tribute to entrepreneurs-creditors, is ...

Compensation of 40 euros.

The EU directive, implemented in Polish law by the new act, also provided for the creditor's right to permanent compensation up to the equivalent of EUR 40 for costs incurred in the course of debt recovery. Importantly, this amount is due to him without request after the payment deadline. Moreover, if the aforementioned costs exceed the amount provided for in the act, the entrepreneur has the right to recover their full amount in court.

The provisions introduced by the new act on payment deadlines in commercial transactions are not an ideal solution. Doubts are raised above all by those relating to the possibility of extending the payment deadline beyond the maximum one provided by the legislator. The terms contained in the document are so broad and ambiguous that their interpretation may be difficult. As a result, the introduced provision may not fulfill its role.

It is very important that the above-mentioned provisions may be applied to commercial transactions concluded after the effective date of the Act, i.e. from April 28, 2013.