Poland collection profile

Poland
       

Poland

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2013: 48/189 countries
 
 


Complexity of collecting debt:

grading
Notable High Major Severe


Executive summary

  • The payment behavior of domestic firms remains poor and the average DSO is high - 59 days for listed companies in 2015 - despite domestic regulations on late payments being more demanding than EU standards.
  • Legal action in Poland is long and unpredictable, therefore formal proceedings should only commence when all amicable and pre-legal collection opportunities have been exhausted.
  • Collecting debt from insolvent debtors is a challenging task and, although debt renegotiation mechanisms have been set up, they are rarely relied upon
 
General Information GENERAL INFORMATION arrow-transparent
 
Collection Practices COLLECTION PRACTICES arrow-transparent
Court Proceedings Court PROCEEDINGS arrow-transparent
 
Insolvency Proceedings INSOLVENCY PROCEEDINGS arrow-transparent
 
General Information 

GENERAL INFORMATION

Days Sales Outstanding (DSO)

The average DSO for listed companies registered a slight decrease at 59 days in 2015 with variances across sectors. For example, the average DSO in the pharmaceuticals and construction sectors is above 70 days against 50 days in the chemical and transportation sectors. The payment behavior of domestic firms overall remains poor even though businesses increasingly ensure that payment is made (and received) on time. The tactic of delaying payments to exert pressure on suppliers is also becoming less common.

 

Late payment interest

The EU Directive 2011/7/EU which stipulates that payments in the EU must be made within 60 days has been transposed into Polish law through the new Act on Payment Terms in Commercial Transactions of March 8th, 2013 (Journal of Laws Dz.U. 2013 item 403). The rules in Poland are however stricter than the EU requirements: as a general rule, business-to-business transactions must be paid within 30 calendar days, although payment terms may be extended by contract to 60 days provided that they do not become unfair to one of the parties. Unless the parties agree on a higher interest rate by contract, the creditor is entitled to receive late payment interest calculated on the base of the National Bank of Poland interest rate (9.5%).​

Under the new law, a flat collection fee equivalent to EUR 40 may also be charged to the debtor and, if the collection costs exceed this sum, the creditor is furthermore entitled to seek reimbursement of its actual costs through the courts. In practice, the debtors are often reluctant to pay the amount and would negotiate the value of the interest. For instance, where the EUR 40 fee is paid, they would usually refuse to pay any interest beyond this amount

 
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collection practice 

COLLECTIONS PRACTICES

Orchestrated negotiation first

Legal action in Poland is long and unpredictable, therefore formal proceedings should only commence when all amicable collection opportunities have been exhausted. Whenever this is possible, alternative dispute resolution methods should be considered (see below). As a matter of fact, the courts must give the parties some incentives to use conciliation at all stages during legal proceedings, therefore avoiding negotiations would be a loss of time. Since May 2012 there is no obligation to send a registered Demand Letter before starting legal action. Nonetheless, legal dunning efforts conducted by collectors and lawyers often start with a letter recalling the debtor its obligation to pay the principal together with late payment interests (as contractually agreed or taking a legal rate as a reference). In fact, in Poland it is often advisable to have a collection agency capable of conducting firm negotiations with the debtor, whether on phone or on its premises. Often, involving Euler Hermes' intermediaries would suffice to secure payment. If an amicable settlement (instalment plan, full or partial payment) may be achieved, it is important to have it authenticated by a notary as any violation of the agreement would then make it enforceable through fast-track proceedings. In addition, before starting legal proceedings against a debtor, assessment of assets is important as it allows verifying whether the company is still in activity and whether recovery chances are at best. In addition, it is essential to be aware of the debtor’s solvency status: if insolvency proceedings have been initiated, it indeed becomes impossible to enforce a debt (see below).

 
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Court Proceeding 

COURT PROCEEDINGS

Poland has a Civil Law system in which the rules are provided by statutes rather than through the case law. The court system in first instance divides between District Courts (sąd rejonowy) and Provincial Courts (Sąd Okręgowy), and both have specialized court divisions competent to deal with commercial disputes (wydziały gospodarcze). Claims in excess of PLN 75,000 would fall under the jurisdiction of Provincial courts. Administrative courts would deal with administrative disputes. The Supreme Court acts as the court of final jurisdiction.

If the debt is certain an unquestioned, the creditor may first request payment from the courts through prescription proceedings (nakazowe) or through electronic Payment Orders (nakaz zapłati). Any dispute at this stage would then be transformed into an ordinary lawsuit. When the debtor company has assets in other EU Member States, a European Payment Order procedure facilitating the recovery of undisputed debts (under Regulation EC No 1896/2006) may furthermore be triggered. In this case, the demanding party may request a District or Provincial Court to issue an Order to Pay which will then be enforceable in all European Union countries (except Denmark) without exequatur proceedings. If a debt is disputed and the creditor wants to commence ordinary legal action (before Polish courts) they must file a claim with the court, which would then serve the debtor with a summons. The debtor is normally given 14 days to file a defence, but failure to do so would entitle the creditor to request a default judgment from the court. The court would then organize proceedings so that the parties’ arguments and evidence may be considered, prior to rendering a decision. Polish courts would normally award remedies in the form of specific performance (i.e. a payment order). Punitive damages are not available.

 
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insolvency Proceeding 

INSOLVENCY PROCEEDINGS

Insolvency in Poland is a matter of cash flow and balance sheet alike. The Bankruptcy Act of 2003 and the Restructuring Act of 2015 have adapted the Polish legal framework to the EU market. It ensures that proceedings must be conducted in such a way that the creditors’ claims may be satisfied to the greatest extent, whilst the debtor’s enterprise will be preserved if an opportunity to do so occurs. However, in practice, liquidation remains the default proceeding when a debtor has become insolvent.

 
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