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Swiss Franc Loans in Poland: Growing Strength of Borrowers and the Evolving Landscape of Lawsuits

FINANCESwiss Franc Loans in Poland: Growing Strength of Borrowers and the Evolving Landscape of Lawsuits

According to official data from district courts, the number of franc-related cases across the country increased by over 35% year on year in the previous year. It is worth noting that in almost half of the courts, the percentage of lawsuits increased threefold. Thus, there is still a clear trend of Swiss franc borrowers actively pursuing their rights, which significantly strengthens their position in the fight against lenders. This determination shows banks that their current actions are not achieving the desired effect. One could even say that they are working in the opposite way. Therefore, banks have no choice but to increasingly offer more favourable settlement proposals or continue the tactic of prolonging court proceedings. However, looking at their current practice, it can be assumed that they will continue to pursue a strategy of prolonging proceedings and proposing moderate settlements in order to manage financial risk and spread potential payments over time, as this is currently the most beneficial for them.

The problem of franc loans is not going away. On the contrary, as official data from all district courts shows, nearly 87,000 franc-related cases were lodged in 2023, over 35% more than in 2022. This significant increase testifies to a clear trend among franc borrowers to actively pursue their rights. A key moment contributing to this rise was the clear position of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), which definitively ruled out the possibility of banks charging an additional fee for the use of capital in the context of unfair contractual clauses.

The CJEU ruling confirmed what franc borrowers and their lawyers had long argued, increasing their confidence in the justice of their case. This decision could have motivated an even larger number of borrowers to initiate legal proceedings, hoping to annul unfavourable credit agreements or to obtain better conditions. The impact of CJEU rulings, combined with increasing awareness and access to consumer rights information, significantly boosted the number of lawsuits.

Another important factor is the increasing number of cases that end successfully for franc borrowers, who are eager to share their successes on social media and online forums. This sharing of experiences creates a chain of motivation, inspiring other borrowers to take legal action. The successes of friends who have benefited from legal proceedings act as a catalyst, encouraging more people to assert their rights. This phenomenon of social solidarity and mutual support contributes to building a community of franc borrowers who feel stronger and more motivated to fight for fair treatment in court than ever before.

The impact of nearly 87,000 franc-related cases in 2023 significantly reinforced the position of franc borrowers, demonstrating to banks their determination in asserting their rights. This decisive stance of borrowers shows that attempts by banks to intimidate, including threats of counter-lawsuits, have not had the desired effect and have even contributed to an increase in solidarity among franc borrowers. In the current situation, lenders are essentially in a losing position, with the strategy of delaying court proceedings seeming to be only an attempt to defer the inevitable defeat.

There is also an additional benefit. In the face of increasing pressure, banks could offer more favourable settlement proposals. However, they are not likely to do this on a large scale. Such a massive action could exceed their financial capabilities related to the payment of overpaid funds. Therefore, one can expect that banks will continue to pursue a strategy of prolonging proceedings and proposing moderate settlements in order to manage financial risk and spread potential payments over time.

Even before 2023, there was talk of a large number of franc lawsuits being filed. Looking at the data for last year, we see further growth. Although this growth is significant and ongoing, it is not leading to paralysis of the courts and slowing down the pace of work of adjudicators. This demonstrates the effective adaptation of the court system to the current situation. It is noticeable that over time, judges are gaining more experience in handling these types of cases, which translates into their growing efficiency and effectiveness. These processes are becoming more routine for them, which means they can be conducted more quickly and smoothly. Therefore, the courts are coping with the current workload.

Detailed data analysis also indicates that in 2023, the largest number of franc-related cases were lodged in the district court in Warsaw – just over 18,000. At the same time, only there was a year-on-year decrease – by almost 31%. Further on in the list, we see the District Court in Poznań – just over 7,000 such cases and a rise of nearly 74% year on year, the Warsaw-Praga District Court in Warsaw – just under 7,000 and over 134%, the District Court in Gdańsk – over 6,000 and over 38%, and the District Court in Wrocław – just under 5,000 and over 126% yo-y. At the bottom of the list we have the District Court in Przemyśl – close to 120 cases and a jump of over 11% year on year.

The decrease in the number of franc cases in the Warsaw District Court, accompanied by an increase in other district courts, was the expected effect of changes introduced to the Code of Civil Procedure. The aim was to decentralise and distribute the workload of cases more evenly across the country and to increase the efficiency of the justice system for borrowers.

In nearly half of the courts, the year-on-year increases are three-digit. The largest was in the District Court in Tarnobrzeg, with an increase of more than 550%. The top five also includes Zamość – close to 204%, Opole – just under 182%, Krosno – nearly 165%, and also Radom – just under 159%. Although these results demonstrate effective case dispersal, it will be important to monitor how individual courts cope with the new workload. The key will be their ability to adapt their resources and processes to ensure efficient case processing without significantly extending the waiting time for verdicts.

Given that over half of franc borrowers have not taken any legal action in relation to their loans, the number of franc lawsuits is expected to continue to grow. Many people are still waiting for developments or gathering information, which means that the potential for increasing the number of cases is still significant. As more and more borrowers become aware of their rights and the opportunities offered by case law, the number of lawsuits will increase. The number of cases in the Warsaw District Court may continue to decrease due to the effect of new regulations, while increases will be recorded in smaller district courts.

The author of the commentary is Adrian Goska, a legal publicist and a long-standing expert on frank-related problems in the judiciary, a legal advisor at the SubiGo Law Firm.

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