Unlawful court rulings over the past 20 years may be challenged

Poland: The new Law on the Supreme Court allows filing of extraordinary appeals against court rulings that became final after 17 October 1997

A new Supreme Court law in force from 3 April 2018 allows an extraordinary appeal against final court rulings if needed to ensure the rule of law and social justice.

Additionally, one of the three following conditions must be met:

  1. the ruling violates constitutional principles or rights, or
  2. the ruling constitutes a flagrant violation of law, or
  3. a significant discrepancy exists between the facts established by the court and the content of the evidence.

An extraordinary appeal may be filed on behalf of a party by the authorities named in the law, i.e. the Chief State Prosecutor, the Ombudsman, the General Counsel to the Republic of Poland, the Ombudsman for Children, the President of the Commission for Financial Supervision and the President of the Consumer and Competition Protection Office.

Individuals and companies that wish to file an extraordinary appeal must ask one of these authorities to do so.

An extraordinary appeal cannot be filed if the ruling may be appealed against by other extraordinary legal measures. Moreover, if the case was already handled by the Supreme Court which decided on a cassation appeal, objections against the ruling cannot be the same as on cassation.

Only one extraordinary appeal may be filed against a particular ruling.

If the appeal is justified, the Supreme Court may cancel the ruling under challenge and decide on the merits of the case or send it back to the competent court.

If the ruling has been final for longer than five years and produced irreversible legal effects, the Supreme Court may refrain from cancelling it and instead only confirm a violation of the law.

In general the deadline for filing an extraordinary appeal is five years from the date when the ruling became final, or one year if a cassation appeal was filed which the Supreme Court decided on the merits. These deadlines apply to rulings that become final after the new law comes into force.

As for rulings that have already become final, though not on or before 17 October 1997, the deadline will be 3 April 2021, i.e. three years from the new law coming into force.


Source: Law on the Supreme Court of 8 December 2017 (Law Journal 2018, item 5)


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