Legal effects of prejudicial awards in arbitral proceedings

Arbitraż i Mediacja | 02/2018
DOI: 10.32027/ADR.18.2.1
Łukasz Chyla

Introduction The rule of prejudicial character (binding effect) of court decisions undoubtedly constitutes a significant guarantee of reliability and sustainability of court decisions, and, therefore, all legal relations. In this respect, taking into consideration the growing importance of arbitration in Poland, there appear more and more often the questions about mutual interaction of arbitration and ordinary courts. The problem of binding effect of prejudicial decisions in respect of arbitration tribunals is controversial partially due to two contrary judgments delivered in this matter by the Polish Supreme Court (hereinafter referred to as the “Supreme Court”): dated 26 November 2008 (signature III CSK 163/08) and 13 April 2012 (signature I CSK 416/11). A doubt has arisen whether arbitration tribunals are bound (and if, to which extent) by final judgments of ordinary courts or, having an equal legal force pursuant to art. 1212 § 1 of the Polish Code of Civil Procedure (hereinafter referred to as the “CCP”)1, arbitration awards which have been recognized in a legally binding manner or enforceability of which has been legally declared. What legal effects have the precedent decisions of ordinary and arbitration courts on subsequent arbitration tribunal award, which is to be made between the same parties and within the same case? The answer to this question is particularly crucial, since in practice it has significant impact on legal position of parties to arbitration proceedings.The Supreme Court judgment dated 26 November 2008 Position of the Supreme Court dated 26 November 20082 as to legally binding effect of arbitration courts constituted a controversial opinion in discussion being a subject of this study3. The Supreme Court concluded that provisions of art. 365 of the CCP and art. 366 CCP shall be applied exclusively to decisions made by ordinary courts, which is the consequence of the fact, that wording “court” refers only to ordinary court, and not 25to arbitration tribunal. Pursuant to the judgment of the Supreme Court, arbitration tribunals shall not be considered also as “other national authorities” or “public administration authorities”, and in addition no “other event” provided for by the law occurs. Also the Court of Appeal, whilst interpreting art. 365 of the CCP, decided that arbitration tribunal is private court and the competency thereof is based on the autonomy of the parties reflected by the agreement concluded between them. In its view, the fact of binding effect of final arbitration award towards ordinary courts does not imply that also arbitration tribunals are bound by it due to lack of such notion of “identity” between ordinary judiciary and arbitration. Arbitration tribunals are not constitutional authorities of state exercising whether public of judicial power, and they do not administer justice within the meaning of art. 175 section 1 of the Polish Constitution4. A similar view has been expressed in this regard by W. Popiołek. Assessment of art. 365 of the CCP through the prism of literal construction may, indeed, lead to conclusion that the wording “court” used in that article refers only to state court, since the term “state” comprises not only “authorities” but also “courts”. In turn, analyzing the problem...