Contract law and negotiations in Poland

What should you know about Polish business culture?

The Poles are well educated with a commitment to work ethics that are not too different from their European counterparts. The main language spoken in the country is Polish while the other minority one is Silesian. Every piece of literature shared with the Poles during a business negotiation should ideally be translated into their language even if the verbal medium may be English. Due to many expats entering Poland for the purpose of business, the local business folks are used to interact with people from a variety of nationalities.

The Polish are reserved individuals but direct and frank negotiators. Establish a close and trusted relationship before proceeding to talk ‘shop’ with your Polish associates.

What are the right negotiation tactics in Poland?

  • Inform your Polish business partners of your arrival into the country one day before the day you arrive, prior to the meeting.
  • Set up meetings between 10 am and 12 pm or 2 pm to 4pm. June, July and August are summer holidays and not recommended for meetings.
  • Be prepared for frank communication, including a ‘no’ when necessary.
  • Use titles and family names when introducing, rather than first names
  • Firm handshakes and direct eye contact is what the Poles like
  • Negotiation time or the time taken to arrive at a decision depends on both parties
  • Refrain from shaking hands in a doorway. That’s considered bad luck!

What is a contract worth in Poland?

It is advisable to seek legal assistance when devising or entering a business contract in Poland as a signed agreement between two parties is considered serious and binding. In certain cases, even a verbal agreement can be taken as a done deal. However a written one is better to protect interests of both sides.

It would be beneficial to the foreign party to engage the services of a Polish translator who can explain all the terms and conditions included in a contract to avoid issues at a later stage.

The Polish Civil Code establishes the general rules of the contract law under which all contracts made within the country fall.

Legislation and Arbitration in Poland

The Polish court system and civil procedures cover many areas that the legal system in other countries do not. Disputes between individuals or corporations, contract or tort disputes are considered to be civil procedures in nature.

Arbitration, on the other hand, is being used commonly to resolve commercial disputes in Poland. In fact, commercial contracts between foreign companies and Polish companies often contain arbitration clauses as they prefer to use a neutral forum instead of a state court. The organizations most commonly used to resolve commercial disputes are Arbitration Court at the Polish-German Chamber of commerce and the Arbitration court at the Polish chamber of commerce.

Hence, conducting business in Poland requires a good understanding of the Polish market, Polish negotiation skills, and business environment including the planned and existing regulations of the Polish Government.

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