Changes on the horizon: the new policy on penalties for infringing consumer rights?


Under the Polish law, the maximum fine which the President of the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection (“OCCP”) can impose on an entrepreneur that infringed consumer rights cannot exceed 10% of that company’s turnover in the business year preceding the year in which the fine is imposed. Until recently the prevailing interpretation was such that the 10% limit applies to the amount of the fine for all anti-consumer infringements covered by one proceedings. According to recent press releases, the President of the OCCP does not share this view and claims that the 10% limit applies to each infringement separately, and not to the total amount of the fines for all infringements determined within one decision.

Moreover, a similar interpretation was adopted by the Court for Competition and Consumer Protection in one of its judgements concerning an infringement of consumer’s collective interest (case no. XVII AmA 34/17): “therefore, if a company - as in the present case – has committed a series of anti-consumer practices that are investigated by the President of the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection within a single administrative proceeding and dealt with in a single administrative decision (…), then, when deciding to impose a fine, the authority imposes the fine for each of the practices separately and the amount of each of these fines - and not of all the fines together - cannot exceed the limits set out in the law (i.e. the 10% limit - author’s note)”.

It remains to be seen whether this interpretation will be endorsed in other court’s decisions. We will keep you abreast of any further developments in this respect.