A. Civil Code
As of 1 January 2016, the statutory interest which is due unless the contract stipulates otherwise – pursuant to Article 359 Paragraph 2 of the Polish Civil Code – is equal to the sum of the reference rate set by the National Bank of Poland and of 3.5 percentage points.
Therefore, in the first half of 2016 the statutory interest rate is 5%.
The regulations have also been amended regarding the maximum interest resulting from legal transactions. At present it cannot be higher, per year, than twice the statutory interest. If the provisions of a contract stipulate that the interest rate shall be higher, the maximum interest is due.
The interest due in the event of default in payment has also been re-determined (Article 481 of the Civil Code).
Should the interest rate for default in payment not be stipulated in the contract, the statutory interest for default is due in the amount equal to the sum of the reference rate of the National Bank of Poland and of 5.5 percentage points.
Currently, the statutory interest for default in payment is 7%.
The maximum interest for default in payment, in turn, cannot be higher per year than twice the statutory interest rate for default. Otherwise, the maximum interest for default is due.
Article 481 Paragraph 23 of the Civil Code stipulates that the provisions of a contract cannot exclude or limit legal stipulations on the maximum interest rate for default in payment, also if foreign law is chosen. In such cases provisions of the act shall apply.
B. Payment terms in commercial transactions
As of 1 January 2016, some of the provisions of the Act of 8 March 2013 on payment terms in commercial transactions are amended.
Among other changes, the regulation has been introduced that the payment term stipulated in the contract cannot be longer than 60 days from the date on which the debtor is presented with the invoice confirming the delivery of the goods or the provision of the service. Exceptions are only possible if the contract concluded between the parties expressly states otherwise, on condition that the stipulation not be grossly unfair to the creditor.
If the payment term stipulated in the contract is longer than 30 days, the creditor may demand for statutory interest to be paid after the lapse of 30 days from the date on which the non-cash service is provided and the invoice is delivered to the debtor. If, on the other hand, the payment term is not stipulated in the contract, the creditor is entitled, without prior call, to the statutory interest for payment default in commercial transactions – after the lapse of 30 days from the provision of the service – which shall accrue until the payment is made.
The amended act now includes the definition of statutory interest for payment default in commercial transactions, which is equal to the reference rate of the National Bank of Poland and 8 percentage points, that is, between 1 January and 30 June 2016 shall amount to 9.5% per year.
In the new wording of Article 9 of the act, the period for examining goods and services in order to verify their compliance with the contract is limited to a maximum of 30 days from the date on which the goods are delivered or the service is provided.
The act also makes provisions for compensation of costs of recovering the receivables, to which the creditor is entitled starting from the date from which he is entitled to the interest. The creditor may demand from the debtor a lump sum equivalent to EUR 40. Additionally, the creditor is also entitled to compensation of incurred costs higher than this sum “in a reasonable amount”.
In its resolution of 11 December 2015 (ref. no III CZP 94/15) the Polish Supreme Court stated that the creditor is entitled to compensation of costs of recovering the receivables in the amount of EUR 40, as stipulated in Article 10 Paragraph 1 of the Act of 8 March 2013 on payment terms in commercial transactions (Dz.U. [Journal of Laws] 2013, item 403), without being required to prove that the costs have been incurred. What is more, the resolution states that the claim for a 40 EUR compensation arises after the lapse of the payment term stipulated by the contract or established pursuant to Article 7 Paragraph 3 and Article 8 Paragraph 4 of the act.