Most of the popular websites on which Internet users infringe third parties’ rights are headquartered in the territory of the United States where Polish courts do not have jurisdiction. Does this mean that we cannot sue Google or Facebook in Poland?
The above rules on the territorial jurisdiction of the courts apply when the domestic jurisdiction of Polish courts is determined. Lack of domestic jurisdiction may be the basis for rejecting the suit.
It results from the Regulation (EU) No 1215/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 December 2012 on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters that if the defendant is not domiciled in a Member State, the jurisdiction of each Member State is determined by law of that Member State.
In Polish law, the general rule of determining national jurisdiction is stated in art. 1109 of the Code of Civil Procedure and is based on the defendant’s domicile or place of his usual residence or seat in the Republic of Poland. The rule does not apply however to Google, because economic activities of its branches in Europe are limited to advertising. Therefore, art. 11037 of the Code of Civil Procedure applies, according to which cases heard in the process other than those mentioned in art. 11031-11036 are within domestic jurisdiction also when they concern an obligation not resulting from a legal act in the Republic of Poland. Therefore, while the effects of violation of the rights of a entity through the content posted on the Internet took place on the territory of Poland, protection before the Polish court and on the basis of Polish law may be demanded.
The possibility of suing Google and other global giants in Poland was confirmed in a precedent judgment of the Court of Appeal in Warsaw of 3 April 2017 in a case with reference number I ACa 2462/15.
In this case, Google lodged a cassation appeal and the case is currently awaiting a decision of the Supreme Court, whose position in this case will undoubtedly influence further rulings of the Polish courts in cases involving enterprises from overseas.