Poland: New rules of statutory warranty bring longer deadlines and significantly alter the buyer’s rights
The rules of statutory warranty for defects will be significantly modified according to the planned amendments to the civil code. The amendments concern both categories of buyers, i.e. companies as well as consumers. In comparison to the hitherto legal rules the rights of the entrepreneurs are to be altered the most.The companies will gain one more year of statutory warranty which lasted according to the old rules one year. Not only will the statutory warranty period be prolonged, but it will also gain totally different legal meaning. According to the old rules a claim had to be filed within one year as of the hand-over of the goods. Even if the defect was notified within one year the court case could not be started after one year. According to the new law it will be sufficient when the defect is noticed within 2 years, at which moment one year period of prescription starts to run. This will make it possible to file a court claim even 3 years as of the hand-over as compared to one year which was the case under the old law. In case of withdrawal from the contract or price reduction the deadlines can be even longer. The deadline to exercise these rights will be 3 years (the sum of the period of statutory warranty and of the period of prescription of other rights) and start only when the repair/replacement is not performed in due time. Consequently the statement on withdrawal or price reduction could under certain circumstance be declared even 5 years as of the hand-over of an item.The above deadlines could be even longer in case the buyer unsuccessfully tries to claim one of his rights before a court. The deadlines for other rights in case of a lawsuit are stopped and continue to run after the proceedings is over.Up until now the companies were always entitled to claim the replacement of a product for a new one in case of fungibles, regardless the significance of a defect. Such principle led to many absurd situations, particularly with regard to complex products such as motor vehicles, where a small failure could justify a replacement of a whole vehicle for a new one. According to the new law the seller will be granted a possibility to compare the costs of the replacement with the costs of the repair and to refuse the replacement, should the costs thereof significantly exceed the repair costs (or analogically the other way around).The amendments presented here are only the most significant ones. The planned law will bring much more important changes.
Source: Draft of the Law on consumer rights of 17 January 2014
Author: Michal Brach
Phone: +48 22 373 6550