Jurisdiction in civil and criminal proceedings


Civil cases, like criminal cases, are heard by the competent courts. On the other hand, it is the law that decides how to determine the jurisdiction of the court. As a rule, we can distinguish three types of properties that are retained in all common courts. Therefore, they find their application in district and regional courts, as well as in courts of appeal.

Jurisdiction - types

Jurisdiction in civil proceedings:

  • material jurisdiction of the court,
  • place of jurisdiction of the court,
  • contractual,
  • commutative,
  • exclusive,
  • delegation,
  • functional jurisdiction of the court.

When bringing a claim to court, it is very important to correctly define the grounds for our claim and the jurisdiction of the court. If the court admits the case, it remains competent until the end of the proceedings, even if its jurisdiction changes during the course of the case. It often happens that in the course of proceedings new facts come to light and circumstances that affect the jurisdiction of the court change, e.g. from district to district court due to exceeding the admissible value of the dispute for cases heard by district courts (i.e. PLN 75,000). for civil cases and PLN 100,000 for commercial cases). It also happens that the defendant changed his place of residence during the proceedings, but this will not change the jurisdiction of the court. This solution is justified by the introduced principle of continuity and consolidation of the jurisdiction of the court that was competent at the time of filing the statement of claim. This principle applies to all types of property, local, material and functional - it is indicated in Art. 15 of the Code of Civil Procedure:

Art. 15. § 1. The court having jurisdiction at the time the statement of claim is brought remains competent until the end of the proceedings, even if the grounds for jurisdiction change during the course of the case.

The material jurisdiction of the court

The material jurisdiction of the court determines which court will hear a civil case in the first instance - a district or a regional court. As regards substantive jurisdiction, the rule is that all civil cases, except for cases for which the jurisdiction of a regional court has been provided, are heard in district courts in the first instance. This is underlined by Art. 16 of the Code of Civil Procedure:

Art. 16. District courts hear all cases with the exception of cases for which the jurisdiction of the regional courts is reserved.

Art. 17 of the Code of Civil Procedure, which lists the district courts as competent to hear in the first instance cases in the field of:

  • non-pecuniary rights and, together with them, pecuniary claims (excluding cases for establishing or contradicting the child's origin, determination of the ineffectiveness of paternity and dissolution of adoption)

  • protection of copyrights (property and non-property)

  • claims arising from industrial property rights

  • claims in the field of press law (property and non-property)

  • property rights in which the value of the subject of the dispute (CCP) exceeds PLN 75,000, and in commercial cases, PLN 100,000

  • issuing a judgment replacing the resolution of the cooperative

  • repeal, annul or establish non-existence of resolutions of legal entities

  • preventing and combating unfair competition

  • compensation for damage caused by issuing a legally valid and unlawful decision.

District courts are not authorized to hear cases that fall under the provisions on substantive jurisdiction of the regional court. A judgment issued by a district court in cases where the regional court is competent, constitutes, pursuant to Art. 379 point 6 of the Code of Civil Procedure, the cause of nullity of the proceedings.

However, if a district court examines a case for payment in a civil case in which the value of the dispute is, for example, PLN 80,000, it will not be the cause of the invalidity of the proceedings, but only a procedural error.

When submitting a statement of claim, the court checks its substantive jurisdiction each time, and if it decides that it is not competent to hear a given case, it will transfer it to the appropriate court. This will extend the time of the proceedings, but it is not always obvious which court will be competent, so it is worth mentioning what is the basis for the jurisdiction of the court in the justification of the statement of claim.



A district court may refer its case to the regional court for consideration if there are serious doubts regarding any legal issues while examining the case.

Place of jurisdiction of the court

The local jurisdiction of the court indicates which of the substantive courts is also locally competent in a given case. After determining the substantive jurisdiction of the court, it is necessary to determine the place of jurisdiction, i.e. specify which court will hear our claim (the court competent for the plaintiff's place of residence or the court competent for the defendant's place of residence).

Most often, the place of jurisdiction is determined by the defendant's place of residence. If the defendant is a legal person or an organizational unit, the local jurisdiction of the court determines the seat of the defendant.

In the event of a lawsuit against a person who is not domiciled in Poland, the competent court will be designated according to his stay in Poland. If the defendant has neither the place of residence nor the place of stay in Poland, or if it is unknown, the territorial jurisdiction of the court shall be determined according to his last place of residence in Poland.

Actions against the State Treasury shall be appointed before the court having jurisdiction over the seat of the state organizational unit with the activity of which the claimed claim is related.

The above rules apply as long as there are no additional circumstances. We also distinguish:

  • alternating jurisdiction - occurs if there is more than one court competent to hear a given case - e.g. for maintenance claims, the court with territorial jurisdiction may be the court competent for the defendant or the court competent for the domicile of the person entitled to maintenance;

  • exclusive jurisdiction - in certain cases, there is only one competent court. This property overrules the general and commutative local property;
    e.g. exclusive jurisdiction is used in cases of ownership or other rights in rem in real estate;

  • delegation competence - arises by a decision of a higher court and takes place if all judges from the court having local jurisdiction are excluded from a given case;

  • Contractual property - resulting from a written agreement between the parties - can be established in one of the clauses of the contract or in a separate document.

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Functional jurisdiction of the court

Functional jurisdiction, called functional or instance jurisdiction, indicates which court in a given case is the court of second instance. The defendant has no influence on the functional jurisdiction because, relying on the jurisdictional jurisdiction, regional courts hear appeals against judgments handed down at first instance by district courts. Similarly, the functional jurisdiction of the court, in the case where the first instance was a regional court, will be the court of appeal. They are therefore always in accordance with the factual and local properties. However, it is always possible to exclude a judge, a group of judges or even the entire court, even the second instance. The basis for exclusion is Art. 48 § 1 of the Code of Civil Procedure, which states that a judge is excluded by the act itself:

  • in matters in which it is a party to or remains with one of the parties

  • in matters of his spouse, relatives or relatives

  • in matters related to persons related to the adoption, custody or guardianship;

  • in cases in which he was or is still an attorney or was a legal advisor of one of the parties;

  • in cases in which he participated in the issuing of the judgment under appeal in a lower instance,

  • in cases for compensation for damage caused by the issuance of a legally valid and unlawful decision, if he participated in the issuing of this decision.

Regardless of the reasons mentioned in Art. 48, the court excludes a judge at his request or at the request of a party, if there is a circumstance of this kind that could cause a reasonable doubt as to the judge's impartiality in a given case.

A judge may be excluded from the case on the basis of the above articles. In a situation where the opposing party is, for example, a former judge or a very influential person in a given area and there is a reasonable probability that the judge may be impartial, all judges from a given court are excluded and the case is referred to another court. This will be the exclusion of a given court from adjudication by excluding all working judges.

The functional property also shows that district courts perform the following activities in civil proceedings:

  • provide court assistance at the request of other common and arbitration courts;

  • conduct conciliation proceedings;

  • at the request of the parties, appoint arbitrators of the arbitration court;

  • they secure evidence in urgent cases.

The functional competence of the Supreme Court includes:

  • examination of a cassation appeal against final judgments of courts of second instance;

  • examination of a complaint for a declaration of non-compliance with the law of final court judgments;

  • examining complaints against the decisions of courts of second instance;

  • resolves legal issues raising doubts and adopts resolutions related to them.