Apart from traditional court procedures, entrepreneurs can also resort to a wide array of alternative dispute resolution methods (ADR). In recent years, the number of cases resolved in the ADR formula in the EU has been growing steadily. The popularity of arbitration and amicable resolution in Poland has also increased visibly, as has the number of research project and reports pointing to the socioeconomic benefits of resolving disputes outside of the court, using a procedure appropriate for the needs of the parties.
ADRs are tools and institutions to be used by parties involved in a legal conflict. Considering, the increased number of economic cases in courts and in turn an increased number of disputes, more effective out-of-court alternatives should be promoted. In a classic dispute, the judge applies the law and conventionally accepted principles of evidence assessment, as well as makes sure that the ruling respect legal regulations and is just. However, sometimes even the party favored by the ruling is not satisfied with it, as the real causes of the dispute are not subject to the court’s analysis and evaluation.
Alternative dispute resolution methods include mediation, arbitration, conciliation and negotiation. Despite their increased popularity, these methods are used only in fairly negligible number of all disputes between entrepreneurs resolved in Poland. Mediation and arbitration are currently the most widely used methods, as both have been firmly established in the Polish legal system. In 2005, a fifth section entitled “Arbitration Court” was added to the Civil Procedure Code, which changed the arbitration formula and introduced mediation.
In order for mediation to gain popularity among entrepreneurs, the awareness and understanding of this procedure should be improved. Education initiatives related to the principles of mediation as well as the skills required to work as a mediator are needed.
Such initiatives should focus on the main benefits of mediation – lower costs, higher efficiency and the time saved – and be targeted at lawyers, entrepreneurs (particularly SMEs) and academics.
In light of the fact that Polish courts are overloaded with cases, the relief that ADRs can provide for the judicial system in this regard should also be emphasized.
Jacek Brzozowski, adviser to the President of Employers of Poland, expert of the Research and Analysis Centre