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.
Archive for: Art. 46 §1 pt 4 PBAC
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 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 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.
The Supreme Administrative Court in its order of 24 July 2007 case file I OPP 25/08 held that the letter that was brought by electronic means must be signed in person by a party or its representative to become legally effective, because only such signature meet the requirements under Article 46 § 1 pkt 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.
In accordance with Article 5(1) of 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 secure electronic signature verified by a qualified certificate which has legal effects specified in the Act, if it is filed during the validity of this certificate. The Chapter IX of that ESA contains provisions amending, inter alia, the Civil Code Article 60, Article 78 §1 and §2, allowing for state the will of a person in the cicil law relationship by the disclosure in electronic form. In addition, 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 No 64, item 565, in Article. 36 pt 3 and 5 introduced amendments of the provisions of the Administrative Proceedings Code, i.e. Article 57 § 5 pt 1 and Article 63 § 3a by allowing the opportunity to provide a request in the form of an electronic document. The above provisions apply only to the extent that the given Act governs.
In the Polish Act of 17 June 2004 on Complaint on the Infringement of the Right of a Party to be Beard in Court Proceedings without Undue Delay, published in Journal of Laws of 16 August 2004, and in the provisions of the PBAC, there are no equivalents of the abovecited provisions of the Civil Code and the APC, and the definition of electronic signatures does not exists in these acts. According to Article 2(3) of the IEPPT, the provisions of this Act shall not apply to administrative courts in the administrative proceedings. Consequently, in this case the Supreme Administrative Court was not obliged to use in the e-mail correspondnce of certificates that are referred to in the ESA.