The Supreme Court in its order of 23 March 2016 case file III CZP 102/15 answered important questions related to minutes of hearing that were recorded as electronic/digital versions. The Regional Court decided a case related to payment, while some doubts as to interpretation of law related to recording of minutes and evidence, arose. The Supreme Court held that the transcription of the minutes that were recorded as sound and video is not an official document according to the provisions of the Civil Proceedings Code – CPC – (in Polish: Kodeks Postępowania Cywilnego) of 17 November 1964, published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 43, item 296, with subsequent amendments, and as such cannot be used for findings related to court’s session. If the minutes recorded as audio and/or audio and video do not allow to determine the content of evidence, the Court has to repeat an action related to this step. On an appeal, there is no need for the applicant to indicate a specific part of the sound recording (or video and audio) that relates to action of taking an evidence.
Archive for: e-documents
The Appeallate Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 12 January 2016 case file I ACa 544/15 decided a case of a person who offers legal assistance to entities who have received the payment order, and also writes articles and tips describing among other things, business debt collection companies and their activities. These articles were published online. The plaintiff in this case, one of such companies, felt that content of defendant’s posts infringed its personal interest – the company name. The defendant was found liable in first instance, however, the judgment was overturned on an appeal. The Court held that the District Court did not perform comprehensive assessment of the evidence.
The Appeallate Court did not agree that printouts from a website could serves as a private document according to the provisions of Article 245 of the Civil Proceedings Code – CPC – (in Polish: Kodeks Postępowania Cywilnego) of 17 November 1964, published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 43, item 296, with subsequent amendments. A private document is proof that the person who signed it, made a statement contained in the document. This means that inherent feature of this type of evidence is the signature. The evidence provided by the plaintiff did not contain a signature. The CPC does not provide an exhaustive list of what can be deemed as evidence in civil proceedings. As evidence can serve documents (official and private), testimonies of witnesses, expert opinions, inspection, hearing the parties. Moreover, based on the provisions of Article 308 § 1 of the CPCP, the Court may also admit movies, television series, photocopies, photographs, plans, drawings and CDs or audio tapes and other devices that store images or sounds, as evidence. The Court ruled that prints from websites are not a private document within the meaning of Article 244 and 245 of the CPC. However, such prints may be considered as “another type of evidence” within the meaning of Article 309 of the CPC, as the CPC does not provide an exhaustive list of evidence, and it is acceptable to use any source of information about the facts relevant to the outcome of the case, and as evidence may serve any legally obtained media or information of the facts. See “Procedural law, case I CSK 138/08“. Plaintiff’s claims and submitted evidence suggested that the claimant saw defendant’s posts on a web site and later saved it in its own web browser. In this way the Company has presented to the court only copies of files that were posted on a website, and not, as erroneously the District Court stated, printouts from the website maintained by the defendant. The Court pointed out that there are plenty of ways to modify the content of a website. The Appeallate Court decided that the plaintiff has submitted evidence of low credibility, since they did not provide information that their content was corresponding to was actually visible on the screen while a website with defamatory content was accessed. The Court found that it was also not known when the plaintiff has saved the content of a website, as the date of saving process was not indicated, and as the date the violation of personal rights was also not mentioned.
The Appeallate Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 16 December 2015 case file I ACa 142/15 decided a case of a Polish rockman who sued a tabloid newspaper for publishing online article that infringed his personal interests. The Court found the journalist and author of the article liable and ordered him to publish apology and to pay proper compensation. However, the Court dismissed the claim that would order the publisher to remove the article from newspaper’s website. The Court ruled that the role of the judicial authorities is not to participate in the falsification of history by ordering the removal from the public sphere of all traces of publications recognized in the past by the final judicial decisions as unjustifiable attack on the good name of individuals. Accordingly, a proportional and adequate form of protection for the plaintiff would by be amending online defamatory publications with a relevant footnote, comment or link to information about the outcome of the proceedings.
The Supreme Administrative Court in its order of 12 May 2014 case file I OPS 10/13 held that the current legal status of administrative court proceedings, as defined in Article 46 § 1 pt. 4 of the Polish Act on the Law on proceedings before administrative courts – PBAC – (in Polish: Prawo o postępowaniu przed sądami administracyjnymi) of 30 August 2002, Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 153, item 1270, with subsequent amendments, does not allow for filing to a court a letter that is only bearing an electronic signature of a party. Such letters must bear handwritten signature. This includes a situation of filing documents through public administration body, by means of electronic communication.
The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 24 October 2012 case file II SAB/Wa 245/12 ruled that official topographic maps that were created and are kept in the databases by the Head Office of Geodesy and Cartography (GUGiK) are public information and must be made available on the request of the creator of dobraulica.pl website. GUGiK filed a cassation complaint.
The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 5 April 2013 case file I OSK 175/13 anulled the contested judgment and ruled that the VAC incorrectly applied provisions of law, because in this case, the law on Geodetic and Cartography should be used as a legal basis for deciding the issue of public information and re-use.
The Head of District Labour Office called an unemployed person to appear before the Office in order to confirm readiness for employment. The Head director informed that the absence will result in the deprivation status of the unemployed. The unemployed person informed the Office that he was not able to appear, becasue of the unexpected surgery. He also requested the Office to appoint a new date to appear, and for delivery of correspondence by e-mail. The Office sent another call by mail. The unemployed did not appear before the Office, and by the decision of the Foreman, he lost unemployment status and privileges. He decided to file a complaint against this decision.
The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Gorzów Wielkopolski in its judgment of 28 February 2013 case file II SA/Go 43/13 annulled the contested decision, ruled it unenforceable. The Court ruled that according to the provisions of Article 391 of the Administrative Proceedings Code – APC – (in Polish: Kodeks postępowania administracyjnego) of 14 June 1960, published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 30, item 168, consolidated text of 9 October 2000, Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 98, item 1071 with subsequent amendments, the delivery should be be made by means of electronic communication if a party or other participant to the administrative proceedings applied to the public administration authority for the service, or consented to having the service effected by such means.
The Inspector General for Personal Data Protection in its decisions of 1 April 2012 nos. DOLiS/DEC-318/12/23575, 23580, 23585 ordered a Polish company to disclose IP addresses of computers. This information was required in other proceedings. The company filed a complaint against this decision and requested the court to stay its execution.
The Supreme Administrative Court in its order of 21 November 2012 case file I OZ 850/12 dismissed it.
The Association of Leaders of Local Civic Groups (SLLGO) requested the Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk to disclose documents and the correspondence, including e-mails, that concerned recent legislative works on the amendments to the Polish Act on Access to Public Information. The Prime Minister disclosed part of the requested materials, but without indicated e-mails. The representative of the Prime Minister argued that e-mails are used to send text messages, they are used as internal correspondence in the office, as well as with external entities. E-mails consists of various documents of varying importance, significance and category (from the private and business). However, it is not a system of receiving and processing of official documents and the exchange of official correspondence, including these on the legislative process. The system serves for communications between certain individuals, rather than for the presentation of the official positions of the administration. The SLLGO filed a complaint and argued that the Prime Minister failed to act in order to disclose the requested information.
The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 1 December 2012 case file II SAB/Wa 295/11 agreed with the SLLGO. The Court ruled that requested e-mails are not private, and they are used to exchange opinions, positions and evaluations between persons exercising public functions. There was no doubt that such electronic means were used for the evaluation and position with respect to the specific provisions of the Act amending the Act on Access to Public Information and other laws. The Court did not agree with the Prime Minister that such exchange of information was intended for internal use and it has working and preparatory nature. The Prime Minister filed a cassation complaint.
The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 14 September 2012 case file I OSK 1203/12 annulled the contested judgment. The Court agreed with the PM and decided that e-mails are internal documents. This issue has been resolved in the same way by the Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 21 June 2012 case file I OSK 666/12. See “E-access to public information, case I OSK 666/12“.
The Inspector General for Personal Data Protection (GIODO) in its decision of 24 September 2010, no. DIS/DEC-1134/38146/10 ordered the Polish company Info Veriti Polska Sp. z o.o. Obsługa Serwisu Internetowego Sp.J., the publisher of online database of Polish entrepreneurs, to inform the individuals whose data that were publicly available in sources such as Court’s Monitor and Economic Monitor and which have been collected and preserved by the Company, according to the information requirement referred to in Article 25(1) of the Polish Act of 29 August 1997 on the Protection of Personal Data – PPD – (in Polish: Ustawa o ochronie danych osobowych), unified text published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) of 6 July 2002, No. 101, item 926, with subsequent amendments, within 3 months from the date on which this decision becomes final.
1. In case where the data have not been obtained from the data subject, the controller is obliged to provide the data subject, immediately after the recording of his/her personal data, with the following information:
1) the address of its seat and its full name, and in case the controller is a natural person about the address of his/her residence and his/her full name,
2) the purpose and the scope of data collection, and in particular, about the data recipients or categories of recipients,
3) the source of data,
4) the existence of the data subject’s right of access to his/her data and the right to rectify these data,
5) the powers resulting from Article 32 paragraph 1 point 7 and 8.
Furthermore, the GIODO ordered the Company to register the collection of personal data of customers (owners of e-mail addresses) within 30 days from the date on which the decision becomes final, to allow users of infoveriti.pl website to freely consent to the processing of their personal data for marketing purposes within 30 days from the date on which this decision becomes final, to create documentation establishing security policy and the intruction for management of IT system that used to process personal data, within 30 days from the date on which this decision becomes final, to grant the authorization to the processing of personal data to persons who are allowed to process personal data within 14 days from the date on which this decision becomes final, and to create a record of persons authorized to process personal data within 14 days from the date on which this decision becomes final. Info Veriti argued that the provisions of Article 25(1) of the PPO should not apply in its case because the provision of other law provides and allows for personal data collection without the need to notify the data subject. Such allowance happens in the case of laws that introduced a formal disclosure of public registers, that include records containing personal information. The formal disclosure of a registry means the right of everyone to access data in the register, without the need to show the legal or factual interest. Due to the widespread legitimacy in terms of access to recorded data, a person obtaining information from the register is not in any way identified during data acquisition. The Laws relating to public records and registers, also do not require explicit registration of the collected data, and there is no knowledge of the registration body of when and to whom the data were disclosed. Moreover, some registration authorities, on the basis of generally formulated principles of transparency, put the data from public records for public networks such as the Internet, which makes impossible to control access of who accessed such register. The GIODO noted that the PPD does not prohibit the creation of separate collections based on data from sources generally available, however, it does not mean that such collections are not subject to the provisions of the PPD. The Company receives data from the National Court Register in order to create a separate database, which uses for its own commercial purposes. In this way, Info Veriti Polska becomes the administrator of the collected data, therefore, as the controller, it is obliged to information requirements. The right of individuals to keep information regarding their situation and status in private, is constitutionally guaranteed, and may be restricted exclusively by laws that have the statutory rank (only Acts). The Act on the National Court Register (KRS) is just such an act. In this case, the record of a natural person entered to the KRS is publicly available, because such Register was created to ensure the transparency of the economic market in Poland. The persons referred to in the Act on the National Court Register, are therefore required to provide their data for inclusion in the register and they must also reckon with the disclosure. This does not mean, however, that they must agree to the use of their data for purposes other than the generally speaking, transparency of economic activity. However, the data controller that processes personal data should provide due care in order to protect the interests of the persons whose data were collected and in particular to ensure that the data were collected for specified and legitimate purposes and are not further processed in a way incompatible with those purposes. The GIODO also noted that the list of situations that allow for waive the requirement to provide information, referred to in 25(1) of the PPD has changed as a result of amendments to the Act that were made in 2004. The provision of Article 25(2) pt 2 that allowed to waive the abovementioned obligation in a situation where the data provided for collection are generally available, was repealed. For these reasons, it was obvious that the intention of the legislature was to require data controllers who collect data “generally available” to completing the duties arising out of the provision of Article 25(1) of the PPD.
The company filed a complaint to the Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw against the decisions issued by the GIODO. Info Veriti requested the Court to decide on the invalidity, or their repeal, in addition, the Company has applied for stay of the execution of the contested decisions and the order to return the costs of proceedings. Infor Veirit claimed that the processed data is very limited, restricted to surname, the national identification number (PESEL), date of birth and functions performed in the entities disclosed in the KRS. Therefore, it is impossible to provide information to persons whose data are processed, because some of them have historical character. These are people who in the past served specific functions. The data administrator is not able to provide such individuals with the required information. The data controller does not process data allowing for direct contact with a person (e.g. home address), and sending information to the address of the entity (e.g. companies created according to the provisions of the Polish Code of Commercial Companies), which in the past served a given function, can not be considered for the execution of the decision. In order to comply with the decision, Info Veriti would need to gather additional categories of data to make contact and send the required information. However, such an obligation should clearly expressed in the decision, which has not happened. The Company has no legal basis for the acquisition of new categories of personal data. The deadline of three months that was ordered by the GIODO is unrealistic in order to collect the required contact data in relation to all of the data are included in the database. The Company noted that its database contains all the data entered in the National Court Register. The purpose of data entered in the National Court Register is closely related to business transactions, and the widespread availability of the registry should not be regarded as interference in the private sphere of the individual whose data is disclosed in the registry. There isn’t therefore a need to notify such persons regarding the process of collecting their personal data, as instruments of public-law on protection of personal data are treated as protection of the right to privacy. The person who serves or served in the bodies of commercial companies must accept that the data will be in an open public record to which access will have anyone interested in business. The purpose of transparency and certainty of economic activity, according to the legislator, prevails over the protection of the name, surname, date of birth and the PESEL number of the persons who performed specific functions in the bodies that were entered into the KRS. Info Veriti also disagreed with the opinion of the GIODO, which opposes the existence and goals of the KRS and data collection of the Company, the latter being also created in order to provide the transparency of economic activity. Services provided by the Company are based on data from public records and explicitly relate to economic activity of specific individuals. Such commercial processing of data previously collected by public entities is allowed by EU law, such as Directive 2003/98/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 November 2003 on the re-use of public sector information. Information on such entities contributes to the establishment of the internal market and creates a system ensuring undisturbed competition in that market. It is also emphasized that public sector information is an important starting material for products and services related to digital content, and more opportunities to re-use this information should allow European companies to use their potential and contribute to economic growth and job creation. As “information services” of Info Veriti are based on data obtained from public records, they fit into the goals provided in the recitals of the Directive 2003/98/EC. According to Infor Veirit, the consequences of the position taken in the decisions of the GIODO, which implies obligation to provide information to any person that collects data from the National Court Register, if there are situations referred to in Article 2 (1-2) of the PPD, are also unacceptable.
1. The Act shall determine the principles of personal data processing and the rights of natural persons whose personal data is or can be processed as a part of a data filing system.
2. The Act shall apply to the processing of personal data in:
1) files, indexes, books, lists and other registers,
2) computer systems, also in case where data are processed outside from a data filing system.
Such requirement would have to be commonly executed in the course of trade in relation to a number of activities related to the acquisition of data from the National Court Register. Given the widespread use of copies of the KRS, that are used for instance to identify the persons authorized to represent the company at the conclusion of the contract, such an interpretation would lead to economic paralysis, and certainly also to the irrational (excessive) financial costs, in the name of privacy protection, which in the present case does not occur.
The Voivodeship Administrative Court in its judgment of 2 June 2011 case file II SA/Wa 720/11 dismissed the complaint. The Court held that the Polish legislator afforded the citizen’s right to privacy in Articles 47, 49 and 51 of the Constitution. This also includes the protection of personal data and privacy against excessive interference by others. The provision of Article 47 of the Constitution sets out the principle of the protection of private life, Article 49 provides for the protection of the correspondence, while the provision of Article 51 states that no one shall be obliged, except under the Act to disclose information concerning his person, a public authority may not acquire, collect and share information on citizens other than those necessary in a democratic state ruled by law, everyone has the right of access to official documents and it datasets. Limitation of this right may be established by statute (act), and to anyone has the right to request the correction or deletion of information incorrect, incomplete, or collected in a manner inconsistent with the Act. These regulations are expanded in the Polish Act of 29 August 1997 on the Protection of Personal Data – PPD – (in Polish: Ustawa o ochronie danych osobowych), unified text published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) of 6 July 2002, No. 101, item 926, with subsequent amendments, which in turn refers to the solutions contained in Directive 95/46/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 24 October 1995 on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data. These instruments created a basic framework for data protection in the Republic of Poland. The PPD created statutory principle of the protection of personal data. In accordance with Article 1 of the PPD, any person has a right to have his/her personal data protected. The processing of personal data can be carried out in the public interest, the interest of the data subject, or the interest of any third party, within the scope and subject to the procedure provided for by the Act. The protection of personal data is a fundamental right of citizens in a democratic state of law. Protection of personal data is closely connected with the protection of private life and, therefore, it determines the freedom of the citizen. The right to protection of personal data, however, is not absolute and it is limited in the interests of the public or justified interests of others. However, since it is a citizen’s right, that determines a person’s sense of freedom, the exceptions allowing for the collection and use of personal data should be subject to strict interpretation. The legislature guided by the values of protection of constitutional rights cannot allow for a situation in which the law by the wider interpretation of the provisions relating to the processing of personal data, is violated. The provisions of the Act on the National Court Register lay down the rules of registration and the rules of disclosure of data. Such data are available electronically by the Central Information of the KRS or by viewing the register files in the appropriate departments of the Polish courts. These data are made available to any interested person, for the purposes of certainty of economic activity. The persons who undertakes an activity that is to be entered into the KRS, knows that the data is maintained by the State in the registry and data will be used only on the basis of the provisions relating to the functioning of the registry. Meanwhile, Info Veriti collects personal data and information disclosed in the register, such as surname, the PESEL number into its own database, in which data are processed. Data and information from the KRS are not intended for this purpose, and the people who share their personal information do not accept the fact that their personal data had been placed in another private database. When entrepreneurs decide to place their data into the KRS, they also have confidence that such data will be disclosed and used only in a manner permitted by the Act on the National Court Register. The legislature cannot allow for the situation that the protection of personal data contained in the KRS will not be limited to entities that wish to use the data for other purposes, and in a different way than permitted by the Act on the National Court Register. At this time, it would lead to a situation in which data from KRS could be used in an unrestricted way, against the will of the people entered into the register, for instance, in order to create a database for the marketing campaign. The court did not agree with the argument that the contested decision is contrary to the provisions of Directive 2003/98/EC. According to the court, the Directive does not apply directly to the Polish law, as EU directives are implemented into the law of a Member State and only then enter into force in the legal system. This Directive is not implemented to the Polish law, and Poland still works on the implementation. The court held that the contested decision is enforceable. Info Veriti builds its own database and has data that allow the Company to perform the information requirement to those who are in the database. It is possible because there are surnames and PESEL numbers of individuals, and businesses headquarters, where they perform given functions. Moreover, Info Veriti may use the services of the Central Bureau of Domiciliary. The fact that it is a big organizational task and it involves a large number of people does not mean that it is not feasible. By building a large database the Company had to be aware that in relation to the number of people it will have specific obligations according to the provisions of the PPD. Info Veriti filed a requested to stay the execution of the decisions.
The Supreme Administrative Court in its order of 30 September 2011 case file I OSK 1827/11 decided to stay the execution of both decisions.
The Court of Justice of the EU in its judgment of 12 July 2012 in Case C‑138/11 ruled that the activity of a public authority consisting in the storing, in a database, of data which undertakings are obliged to report on the basis of statutory obligations, in permitting interested persons to search for that data and/or in providing them with print-outs thereof does not constitute an economic activity, and that public authority is not, therefore, to be regarded, in the course of that activity, as an undertaking, within the meaning of Article 102 TFEU. The fact that those searches and/or that provision of print-outs are carried out in consideration for remuneration provided for by law and not determined, directly or indirectly, by the entity concerned, is not such as to alter the legal classification of that activity. In addition, when such a public authority prohibits any other use of the data thus collected and made available to the public, by relying upon the sui generis protection granted to it as maker of the database pursuant to Article 7 of Directive 96/9/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 March 1996 on the legal protection of databases, or upon any other intellectual property right, it also does not exercise an economic activity and is not therefore to be regarded, in the course of that activity, as an undertaking, within the meaning of Article 102 TFEU.
Edwin Góral, the Polish legal advisor (a profession similar to English solicitor), requested the Office of the Attorney General of the State Treasury to print at his own expense and sent him all the lawsuits and complaints filed by the Attorney General of the State Treasury Office in 2011, until 30 June. The President of the Office refused to disclose the requested information and decided that the Office of the Attorney General of the State Treasury is not an entity obligated to disclose public information, in particular, the documents produced by legal advisors who work for the Office and perform representation activities. Edwin Góral filed a comaplaint against this decision.
The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 29 December 2011 case file II SAB/Wa 357/11 dismissed it. The Court ruled that even if the contents of suits, summons, statements of claims, writs are considered as public information, the provisions of Article 1(2) of the Polish Act of 6 September 2001 on Access to Public Information – API – (in Polish: Ustawa o dostępie do informacji publicznej), published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No. 112, item 1198, with subsequent amendments, provides that their disclosure should be specified in separate laws. The disclosure of civil suits (petitions) is possible under the provisions of the Civil Proceedings Code – CPC (in Polish: Kodeks Postępowania Cywilnego) of 17 November 1964, published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No. 43, item 296, with subsequent amendments.
The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 23 July 2012 case file I OSK 896/12 dismissed the cassation complaint. The Court noted that the announcement of judgment occurs in open court. Judgments, including decisions of the Polish Court of Competition and Consumer Protection, should be disclosed to the public by a court as provided in the CPC. Similarly, the right of access to the case file, to receive copies of or extracts is governed by the provisions of the Civil Proceedings Code. It should be noted that this is a completely different position to that adopted in the judgment of the Supreme Administrative Court of 11 August 2011 case file I OSK 933/11. See “Access to public information, case I OSK 933/11“.
The District Court in Toruń requested the Polish Supreme Court to answer the question whether a party of civil proceedings is allowed to file an appeal in form of electronic document. If the answer would be “yes”, the Court also wanted to know whether the deadline for lodging an appeal is confirmed by the date on which the letter was received by the device receiving the court’s e-mails. The District Court additionally enquired, whether such letters can be signed by electronic signature as defined in the Act of 18 September 2001 on Electronic Signature – ESA – (in Polish: ustawa o podpisie elektronicznym), published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) of 15 November 2001, No 130, item 1450, with subsequent amendments.
The Supreme Court in its judgment of 23 May 2012 case file III CZP 9/12 held that filing an appeal by e-mail is acceptable only, if a specific provision allows for such action. Currently, this option is very limited in the Polish law. The printed version of an appeal filed by electronic means may be treated as effective, if it will be signed by the party at the request received from the Court, and the date for submission of such a letter to the court is then the date the printing was done.
Grzegorz Pluciński, the CEO of the Polish company Mainframe, filed a private accusation against Andrzej Machnacz who was the Director of the Centre of Information of the Ministry of the Interior and Administration in 2008-2010. It is probably the first case based on the provisions of Article 23 of the Polish Act of 6 September 2001 on Access to Public Information – API – (in Polish: Ustawa o dostępie do informacji publicznej), published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No. 112, item 1198, with subsequent amendments.
Article 23. Whoever, contrary to the obligation weighing on him, shall not make the public information available, is subject to fine, penalty of restricted liberty or penalty of deprivation of liberty for up to one year.
Mr Pluciński argued that the Director was obliged to disclose a contract between the Centre and IBM. The sum of the contract was below 38.000 PLN which allowed for its conclusion without meeting the conditions of the Polish Act on Public Procurement. During the trail before the Regional Court for Warszawa Mokotów, the Director argued that the request for disclosure of public information that was filed by Mainframe was worded too broadly and did not relate to this contract. Mr Machnacz also argued that he did not take the refusal decsion, and only accepted suggestions of his employees, and after consultation with outside law firm. However, only two signatures were available under this decision. According to the provisions of Article 16(2) of the API, the justification of the decision on the refusal of making the information available should also include the names, surnames, and these persons’ functions, who took decision under the procedure on making the information available and marking the entities, in relation to whose goods defined in Article 5, it. 2, the decision on the refusal to make information available was issued. The trial has been postponed until June 2012.
The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 3 February 2012 case file I OSK 2172/11 dismissed the complaint against the judgment of the Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw of 25 August 2011 case file II SAB/Wa 87/11 in which the court ruled that e-mail correspondence of employees of the Agency for Restructuring and Modernisation of Agriculture (ARMA) is not deemed as public information.
A Polish citizen filed a complaint to the Voivodeship Administrative Court via e-mail, and signed it with the qualified electronic signature. The Court called him to sign the complaint manually, within 7 days under pain of rejection of the complaint. The applicant argued that he already signed it.
The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Łódź in its order of 13 March 2012 case file II SAB/Łd 35/12 rejected the complaint. The Court held that the complaint must meet two kinds of requirements. First of all, the complaint must meet all the requirements provided for the letter in court proceedings, and also it has to include an indication of the contested decision, order, or any other act or activity, the indication of an authority or body whose action or inaction is a subjetct of the complaint, the explanation of violation of law or legal interest. As each letter, the complaint should therefore be signed by the party or its legal representative or attorney, according to the provisions of Article 46 § 1 point 4 of the Polish Act of 30 August 2002 on Proceedings Before Administrative Courts – PBAC – (in Polish: Prawo o postępowaniu przed sądami administracyjnymi), published in Journal Of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 153, item 1270 with subsequent amendments. According to the Court, for the effectiveness of the electronically signed letter it has to be signed manually by the party. Therefore, the signature of the applicant’s letter must be submitted in person, i.e, it has to be a manual sign of a specific person to allow for its identification. An exception to the above mentioned rule, is a provision stating that a letter which can not be signed by a party in person, should be signed by a person authorized by the party. Such a person has to explain the reasons why the party itself did not signed the letter. Failure to sign the complaint within the prescribed period of time means that the applicant did not remove its defects in form, which results in rejection of the complaint by the Court. The VAC noted that its view is confirmed by well-established case law of the administrative courts. See the order of the Supreme Administrative Court of 16 November 2011 case file I OZ 831/11, the order of the SAC of 8 September 2011 case file I OZ 657/11, the order of the SAC of 27 May 2011 case file I OZ 368/11.
The Court of Justice of the EU in its judgment of 1 March 2012 Case C-604/10 Football Dataco Ltd and Others v Yahoo! UK Ltd and Others held that Article 3(1) of Directive 96/9/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 March 1996 on the legal protection of databases must be interpreted as meaning that a ‘database’ within the meaning of Article 1(2) of that directive is protected by the copyright laid down by that directive provided that the selection or arrangement of the data which it contains amounts to an original expression of the creative freedom of its author, which is a matter for the national court to determine. As a consequence:
– the intellectual effort and skill of creating that data are not relevant in order to assess the eligibility of that database for protection by that right;
– it is irrelevant, for that purpose, whether or not the selection or arrangement of that data includes the addition of important significance to that data, and
– the significant labour and skill required for setting up that database cannot as such justify such a protection if they do not express any originality in the selection or arrangement of the data which that database contains.
The Court also ruled that the Directive 96/9 must be interpreted as meaning that, subject to the transitional provision contained in Article 14(2) of that directive, it precludes national legislation which grants databases, as defined in Article 1(2) of the directive, copyright protection under conditions which are different to those set out in Article 3(1) of the directive.
The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Gdańsk in its order of 23 March 2011 case file I SA/Gd 916/10 rejected a complaint against a decision on leaving the applicant’s request for the relief for the payment of court fees from the complaints, without examination. The complaint was sent by post the day after the deadline, but the day before, the same letter has been sent by e-mail at 10:50 pm to the court. The VAC found the complaint to be void and rejected it. The applicant filed a complaint against such order.
The Supreme Administrative Court in its order of 21 December 2011 case file II FZ 447/11 agreed with the applicant, and repealed the contested judgment and returned it to the VAC for further reconsideration. The SAC issued very precedential opinion. The Court held that despite the legal loopholes it is possible to bring the pleadings via e-mail correspondence with the courts. The court also held that the date of the filing is a real moment of delivery of the e-mail message, which will be communicated to the recipient in the appropriate e-mail program. The Court noted that information about the confirmation of data transmission, which includes the date of delivery, is provided in the header of each e-mail message and it decides on timely filing of the pleadings. The Court stressed that the party to the proceedings before the administrative courts cannot bear the negative consequences of failure to implement the Polish Act on Proceedings Before Administrative Courts of the relevant provisions concerning the submission of documents by electronic means. After that judgment a party can effectively bring to the administrative court every pleading by electronic means, including the complaint or a cassation complaint, despite the lack of a formal legal basis. The only problem is that the document lacks of a formal signature. But there is no obstacle to supplement it after the call issued by the court. If the applicant will send a complaint via e-mail at the last moment, it will be deemed as the effective delivery and filing. It only has to be signed in person after the call from the court in a specified deadline.
The Supreme Court in its judgment of 5 November 2008 case file I CSK 138/08 dismissed a cassation complaint in case related to tangible property, however the Court also decided on issues related to digital evidence. The Supreme Court found that the Appeallate Court erred in law by not admitting and refusing to assess evidence of computer printouts submitted to the case by the defendant. The Court did not agree with the opinion that prints do not meet the requirements of documents and thus can not be considered as evidence in the process. Even if unsigned computer printouts are not considered as a document within the meaning of provisions of Article 244 and 245 of the Civil Proceedings Code – CPC – (in Polish: Kodeks Postępowania Cywilnego) of 17 November 1964, published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 43, item 296, with subsequent amendments, it should be considered that the CPC does not contain an exhaustive list of evidence and it is acceptable to use any source of information about the facts relevant to the outcome of the case, if it is not contrary to law. Therefore, the Appeallate Court should allow to submit such evidence based on the provisions of Article 308 of the CPC. This provision refers to evidence other than as expressly set out in the CPC, and the same may also apply to computer printouts.
The Association of Leaders of Local Civic Groups (SLLGO) requested the Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk to disclose the correspondence, including e-mails, of members of the Council of Ministers and their assistants, that concerned the revision of the Polish Act of 6 September 2001 on Access to Public Information – API – (in Polish: Ustawa o dostępie do informacji publicznej), published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No. 112, item 1198, with subsequent amendments. The Prime Minister refused, arguing that such e-mails are not public information, because this is internal correspondence. The SSLGO filed a complaint for failure to act.
The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 1 December 2011 case file II SAB/Wa 295/11 agreed with the SSLGO and decided that e-mail correspondence in this case was not private, but it should be deemed as public information and properly disclosed, as it was requested by the Association, because it concerned amendments to the API. The Court noted that such e-mails relate to public affairs, as it was previously mentioned by the Voivodeship Administrative Court in its judgment of 16 January 2004 case file II SAB 364/0. The Prime Minister filed a cassation complaint.
The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 21 June 2012 case file I OSK 666/12 annulled the contested judgment. The Court held that the requested e-mails are not public information.
Writing under a pseudonym, Dariusz B. posted a comment on the website “Gazeta online Elbląg 24”. In his post Dariusz B. wrote to the Mayor of the Elbląg town, that he has photographs of people who sit in the city council, and he described the content of these pictures as a “sex scandal”. He noted that the Mayor’s spokesman ignored this case, so he wanted to know what should he do next with such photographs. Other anonymous Internet users posted comments under the post that has been written by Dariusz B. One of them has disclosed who is the author of the post, and also expressed a negative opinion about the post, by calling it a blackmail. This person also suggested that Dariusz B. has used the media for his own purposes in order to manipulate press journalists. The intentions of Dariusz B. and his honesty, were also undermined. The post of Dariusz B. was described as a blatant violation of the law for which he should bear criminal responsibility. “Gazeta online Elbląg 24” is a service available for free. It is operated by the Municipality of the Elblag town. The comment in which personal data of Dariusz B. was disclosed was written from a computer that had the IP address belonging to the organizational unit of the Elblag town. The unit operates wireless Wi-Fi, whose range includes several publicly accessible areas of the building and parking lot adjacent to it. It was not possible to identify the person who posted this comment. The Police, at the request of Dariusz B. commenced an investigation and failed to establish who was the author of the comment, even when the Municipality of Elblag has disclosed all data, including IP addresses. Dariusz B. sued the Municipality of Elbląg for the infringement of his personal interests. The District Court and the Appellate Court dismissed the suit. Dariusz B. filed a cassation complaint.
The Supreme Court in its judgment of 8 July 2011 case file IV CSK 665/10, published in electronic database LEX, under the no. 898708, held that critical comments of the content of post and the very fact of its posting, or disclosure of the name and surname of Dariusz B., was not a violation of his personal interest. However, it was a violation of personal interests (dignity and reputation) when such action has been called illegal activity, fraudulent and manipulative, a blackmail and provocation, which undoubtedly discredited Dariusz B. in public opinion, especially as a social activist, who was active at another online forum. Such statement, not supported by the facts, was unlawful. In the case of an infringement of one’s personal interests, the court may award pecuniary compensation to a person whose personal interests have been infringed, an approriate amount as pecuniary compensation for the wrong suffered or may, on his demand, adjudge an appropriate amount of money to be paid for a social purpose chosen by him, irrespective of other means necessary to remedy the effects of the infringement. Not only the person who directly caused the damage shall be liable, but also any person who has induced or helped another person to cause the damage, including those who consciously took benefit from a damage caused to another person. However, the Court ruled that there was no normal causal link between the actions of the Municipality of Elblag, and the damage suffered by Dariusz B., and such a link occurs only when the action is directed to accomplish the tortious activity.
By opearating a website “Gazeta online Elbląg 24” and a discussion forum, the Municipality of Elbląg was deemed as the Internet services provider. However, such ISPs, are responsible for the violation of personal rights performed by others only when they knew that the post violates these interests and they did not immediately prevent the access to the post. Therefore, the ISP is not obliged to control the content of posts written by users on a free discussion forum website. Taking into account the nature and purpose of services based on making available free of charge of a discussion website, and considering also that there were no general rules for the management of such services and systems, the Court held that there were no grounds to impose a general obligation on the ISP to provide tools to identify users of such a website. The Court ruled that the anonymity of persons using the publicly available online news website, is a generally accepted principle and essence of this type of service. It provides freedom of expression, which is the goal of such websites. Consequently, the Court held that the ISP that created and provides free access to the website with a discussion forum, has no obligation to ensure the ability to identify the users who maded posts on this website.
The mayor of the Polish town Rabka-Zdrój refused to disclose land-use planning maps. The request was filed according to the provisions of the Polish Act of 6 September 2001 on Access to Public Information – API – (in Polish: Ustawa o dostępie do informacji publicznej), published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No. 112, item 1198, with subsequent amendments. The mayor decided that copyright law does not allow for the disclosure, because these maps were created by the Studio of Architecture and Urban Design from Kraków. The applicant filed a complaint against this decision. The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Kraków in its judgment of 22 November 2010 case file II SAB/Kr 114/10 ordered to provide the requested information. The Mayor filed a cassation complaint.
The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 15 July 2011 case file I OSK 667/11 dismissed it, and held that as public information are deemed not only documents that were directly created/edited and produced by a public authority, but such a character have also documents that the authority uses to carry out the tasks entrusted to the law, even if the copyrights belong to another entity. The most important is the fact, that these documents are used to carry out public tasks by certain authorities and have been produced on behalf of those bodies. Therefore, it is not about exercising copyrights, but about the access to the content of the document that was created on behalf of public administration in order to carry out public tasks. The SAC noted that this opinion is already established in the case law of administrative courts for many years. For instance, the judgment of the Supreme Administrative court of 9 February 2007 case file I OSK 517/06, the judgment of the SAC of 7 December 2010 case file I OSK 1774/10, or the judgment of the SAC of 18 September 2008 case file I OSK 315/08.
In this case, the Court had no doubt that the maps were made in order to perform a specific public task, and were commissioned by public administration body. Its disclosure is not deemed as exercise of the copyright, but as the implementation of the right to access public information. If, there were statutory barriers to disclose such information in a certain way or in a particular form, or there were statutory grounds for refusal of access to public information, the Mayor was obliged to deal with the request in the form of process. However, the lack of disclosure, and lack of procedural decisions in this matter meant, that it was administrative inaction.
A journalists requested one of the Polish companies to disclose information about the earnings of its directors (CEOs) and members of the supervisory board. He also wanted to know how many prizes, bonuses and other financial inducements were received by the CEO and the board members in the last three years, and how much the company has spent on advertising and promotion, how much spending and subsidies were distributed for non-governmental organizations, staff training, banquets and small meetings. He also demanded the indication of dates, names and amounts, the method of selecting contractors. This request was based on the provisions of the Polish Act of 6 September 2001 on Access to Public Information – API – (in Polish: Ustawa o dostępie do informacji publicznej), published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No. 112, item 1198, with subsequent amendments. The journalist noted that the expected response should be sent to him via e-mail. The company provided information only on salaries, and refused to disclose other information that was subject to the request. The decision has been sent in the form of an electronic document to an e-mail address provided by a journalist. The company noted that other information belong to the category of “processed information”, therefore, the applicant has to indicate why the disclosure of such information is particularly important for the public interest. The journalist filed a complaint against this decision.
The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Gliwice in its judgment of 19 September 2011 case file IV SA/Gl 1002/11 rejected it, because of procedural reasons. However, the VAC held that the administration decision issued in the form of an electronic document must be signed by a secure electronic signature that is verifiable by a valid qualified certificate. The administrative decision that does not meet these requirements can not be regarded as signed, and therefore is not valid according to the provisions of Article 14 of the Administrative Proceedings Code – APC – (in Polish: Kodeks postępowania administracyjnego) of 14 June 1960, published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 30, item 168, consolidated text of 9 October 2000, Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 98, item 1071 with subsequent amendments.
Article 14. Principle of written proceedings
§ 1. All matters shall be disposed of in writing or in the form of an electronic document as defined in the Act of 17 February 2005 on Informatization of Operation of Entities Performing Public Tasks (Journal of Laws No. 64, item 565, as ammended), to be served by means of electronic communication.
The VAC also noted that in this case the decision has not been delivered in the proper form.
The public administration body issuing the decision shall be bound by it from the time of its service or publication, unless the Code provides otherwise.
Although in this case the content of the decision was known but it was not delivered in the form provided in the provisions of the APC. The decision was in fact delivered in writing but it was served by electronic means and in a way that was inconsistent with the provisions of APC, which could not be considered as effective service.
The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 11 August 2011 case file I OSK 933/11 held that the provisions of Article 418a of the CRC does not specify different rules and procedures for disclosure and access to public information, which is a court judgment in a criminal case. Judgments, decisions of the courts and their justifications – decided both in civil, criminal and administrative proceedings – are therefore deemed s public information and should be disclosed under the provisions of Article 1(2) of the Polish Act of 6 September 2001 on Access to Public Information – API – (in Polish: Ustawa o dostępie do informacji publicznej), published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No. 112, item 1198, with subsequent amendments. See also “Access to public information, case I OSK 896/12“.
A Polish citizen requested the President of one of the Regional courts to disclose the calendar of causes that concerned his case. The President informed that the calendar of causes cannot be disclosed, because the regulation on the work of common courts does not permit for such disclosure after the calendar is deposited in the court’s records. Jan H. filed a complaint for failure to act, claiming President’s inaction in his case.
The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Lublin in its judgment of 2 July 2009 case file III SAB/Lu 1/09 held that the regional court is a public authority under the the Polish Act of 6 September 2001 on access to public information – API – (in Polish: Ustawa o dostępie do informacji publicznej), published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No. 112, item 1198, with subsequent amendments, and is therefore obliged to provide public information. Jan H. has the right to request the disclosure of public information, because everyone has that right, and what’s more important, the person exercising the right to public information is not required to demonstrate his or her legal or factual interest. The calendar of cases and dockets includes a list of cases that are heard in a given day by a court in a particular composition, and as such is deemed as public information, that concerns the work and operation of a public authority, which in this case, was the Regional court. Thus, the citizen’s request has to be considered in terms of request for public information. The VAC noted that internal regulations on the office work cannot be the basis on deciding on civil rights.
Terms of Service of Domeny.pl website contained a clause that allowed Domeny.pl to introduce changes in TOS and it also included a statement that the changes take effect “from the time a new version is available on the website”. The President of the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection decided that this provision violates the collective interests of consumers as they should be always informed about amendments to the terms. Otherwise they would have to constantly check to see if TOS has not been modified. The President ordered the removal of the questioned terms of service. Domeny.pl filed a complaint against this decision. The Supreme Court in its judgment of 12 April 2011 case file III SK 44/10 dismissed the complaint.
The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Poznań in its judgment of 22 October 2010 case file I SA/Po 486/10 held that a company that is required to send annual tax information about its employees, is also allowed to send to him or her a tax declaration in the form of electronic message (e-mail), under the condition that such e-mail is signed with the digital signature and the form of the tax declaration is preserved.
See also “E-signatures in Poland“.
The Inspector General for Personal Data Protection (GIODO) in its decision of 13 September 2010 case file DOLiS/DEC-1013/10 concerning DOLiS-440-276/10 ruled that according to the wording of Article 18(1) pt 2 of the Polish Act of 29 August 1997 on the Protection of Personal Data – PPD – (in Polish: Ustawa o ochronie danych osobowych), unified text published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) of 6 July 2002, No. 101, item 926, with subsequent amendments, in the event of the breach of provisions on personal data protection, the GIODO ex officio or at the request of the person concerned, by an administrative decision, shall order the restoration of the situation in accordance with the law and, in particular, to complete, update correct, disclose or not to disclose of personal data.
1. In case of any breach of the provisions on personal data protection, the Inspector General ex officio or upon a motion of a person concerned, by means of an administrative decision, shall order to restore the proper legal state, and in particular:
1) to remedy the negligence,
2) to complete, update, correct, disclose, or not to disclose personal data,
3) to apply additional measures protecting the collected personal data,
4) to suspend the flow of personal data to a third country,
5) to safeguard the data or to transfer them to other subjects,
6) to erase the personal data.
2. The Inspector General’s decisions referred
Given the circumstances of the case, the GIODO considered that he is authorized – by the established rules – to order the Company to disclose to the applicant information about a person who, on in 2010, at 20:29 had registered on www.gowork.pl web portal using the nickname “anonymous”, i.e. information about IP address of a computer used to post the questioned entry.
The Voivodeship Administrative Court in Gdańsk in its order of 9 September 2010 case file II SA/Gd 573/10 held that the legal effectiveness of a letter brought by a party to an administrative court by electronic means must be confirmed by its later signature. This is the requirement provided in Article 46 § 1 pt 4 of the Act of 30 August 2002 on the Law on proceedings before administrative courts – PBAC – (in Polish: Prawo o postępowaniu przed sądami administracyjnymi), published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 153, item 1270, with subsequent amendments, which says that each letter must contain the signature of the party or its representative. This also applies to letters sent by electronic means. This ancient requirement is still in force even if there is the Polish Act of 17 February 2005 on the Informatization of Entities Performing Public Tasks – IEPPT – (in Polish: ustawa o informatyzacji działalności podmiotów realizujących zadania publiczne), published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 64, item 565 as amended, and the Act of 18 September 2001 on Electronic Signature – ESA – (in Polish: ustawa o podpisie elektronicznym), published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw), No 130, item 1450, with subsequent amendments, because both acts did not introduce the electronic administrative proceedings or electronic docketing systems to the Polish procedure.