Immediate enforceability of a judgment in civil cases

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A creditor, by bringing a claim to the court, aims to obtain a judgment of a common court in his favor, which will then be the basis for the enforcement of the awarded benefits from the debtor. However, not immediately after the judgment is issued, it is possible to enforce the debt. As a rule, a decision must be final. However, the Code of Conduct provides for exceptions in which a judgment becomes enforceable before it becomes final. Immediate enforceability of a judgment in civil cases - what is worth knowing?

Immediate enforceability and the enforcement clause

Enforceability means that a given judgment can be enforced by way of execution. A judgment is enforceable if it is final. Pursuant to the Code of Civil Procedure, a court decision becomes final if it is not subject to an appeal or other ordinary appeal. In this case, it is a situation when such a measure is not available at all (e.g. a judgment of second instance) or when the time limit for its submission has expired. Before the expiry of this period, by way of exception, in certain cases, the judgment may be enforceable immediately.

Both final and immediate enforceability judgments constitute the so-called enforcement title. In separate proceedings, the court gives an enforcement clause to such a title. Only with such a document (the so-called enforcement title) can we go to the bailiff to initiate enforcement.

Therefore, immediate enforceability does not mean that the debtor may be compulsorily enforced on the basis of an act to which the court has imposed such a regime. Only an enforcement clause is assigned to a judgment by a court that it is possible to initiate enforcement proceedings. Immediate feasibility only allows the necessary procedure to be started earlier.

When is the court obliged to make it immediately enforceable?

Pursuant to the Code of Civil Procedure, the court obligatorily, ex officio, makes the judgment immediately enforceable in the following cases:

  • in matters related to labor law, if it awards the employee due in part not exceeding one full month's remuneration,

  • by awarding alimony - it imposes the rigor of installments payable after the day the claim is brought; and as for the installments payable before bringing the action, it is rigorous for a period not longer than three months,

  • when it awards a claim recognized by the defendant,

  • when the judgment allowing the claim is default.

In the above cases, the plaintiff does not have to apply to the court for immediate enforceability. The court itself will investigate whether the above cases occur and, if they occur, will adjudicate on granting the judgment such a rigor. Importantly, if, despite the fact that the above conditions have been met, the court did not include an appropriate provision in the operative part of the judgment - the party is not entitled to a complaint. In such a case, an application should be made to supplement the judgment with an order in this regard [see orz. Supreme Court of 18 April 1957, IV CZ 81/57, OSNCK 1959, No. 1, item 6; W. Siedlecki, Przegląd, 1959, p. 113].

For the entrepreneur, among the above-mentioned premises, the most important in practice may be the one concerning the judgment in the case in which the defendant acknowledges the claim of the plaintiff. At the pre-trial stage, it is often the case that the debtor and the creditor conclude a settlement or divide the debt into installments. On the other hand, these actions may be qualified as the recognition of the claim, which, taking into account the obligation to make the judgment awarding the provision in such a case, immediately enforceable, significantly speeds up the enforcement.

The Code of Civil Procedure also provides for cases where, although the court is not obliged to do so, it may ex officio make the judgment immediately enforceable. The court has this option when:

  • awards the amount due under a promissory note, check, warrant, reverse, official document or private document, the truthfulness of which has not been denied,

  • takes into account an action for infringement of possession.

Giving rigor at the claimant's request

In other cases, immediate enforceability may be brought before the court only upon application. The Code of Civil Procedure stipulates that it is possible only if the judgment is suitable for enforcement by bailiff enforcement (e.g. judgments only establishing someone's right or obligation are not enforceable, while judgments awarding the payment of a specific amount of money are enforceable). Moreover, the court may impose the rigor upon request only in two cases:

  • if the delay made it impossible or significantly impeded the execution of the judgment,

  • if the delay would jeopardize the claimant.

In practice, it is considered that by example (...) enforcement of the judgment by way of execution may be prevented by the defendant leaving the country permanently to a country with which Poland has not concluded an agreement on legal aid in civil cases. An example of the plaintiff's exposure to damage will be, inter alia, a judgment ordering the defendant to provide a craft workshop. [AND. Zieliński (ed.), Code of Civil Procedure. Comment. Ed. 9, Warsaw 2017]. It is also indicated that: The enforcement of the judgment will be prevented or significantly impeded, especially in the event of a risk of destruction, sale or concealment of items or rights covered by the dispute or the debtor's assets. On the other hand, the plaintiff's exposure to harm should be understood as the risk of harm in the form of adverse consequences of the later execution of the judgment, going beyond the normal effects of such a delay. [K. Piasecki (ed.), Code of Civil Procedure. Volume I. Commentary. Art. 1-366, Ed. 7].

An application for rigor may be submitted both in the statement of claim and at a later stage of the proceedings, until it becomes final. The right to submit such a request is vested in the plaintiff, an incidental intervener, participant in the dispute, a social organization, a public prosecutor or another entity acting on the same terms as a public prosecutor (eg the Ombudsman).

Immediate enforceability by law

The Code of Civil Procedure provides that in some circumstances judgments become enforceable before the judgment becomes final without the necessity to make them immediately enforceable by the court. By operation of law, it is enforceable:

  • judgment of the court of first instance awarding a benefit to an employee or his family members, against which the court of second instance dismissed the employer's appeal, also in the part in which the court of first instance did not make him immediately enforceable,

  • resolutions,

  • a payment order issued in an order for payment on the basis of a promissory note, warrant, reverse or check with the expiry of the two-week period for satisfying the claim.

The last case is extremely beneficial for creditors who can refer bailiffs for enforcement and enforce the benefit awarded by the payment order, regardless of whether the order has been appealed against. This is a dangerous situation for the debtor as the enforcement seizure may de facto be carried out before he is served with the order for payment.