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Cybersecurity. The hackers stole the money, now the bank will give it back. There is a verdict

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The Court of Appeal in Białystok awarded the company from whose account the hackers made two unauthorized transfers PLN 76,000 with interest from the bank maintaining the account. The court dismissed the appeal of the bank from Zabłudów (Podlaskie) and upheld the judgment of the first instance. It is valid.

In March 2016, two unauthorized transfers were made from the account of the company from Olsztyn. It turned out that the computer of the president of this company was infected with hacking software. Some of the money was recovered, but transfers to over 220,000 PLN were realized; the company first tried to settle the case amicably, but eventually applied to the court for the return of part of the claim, amounting to PLN 76,000. PLN plus interest.


A year and a half ago, the District Court in Białystok upheld the claim in full, referring to the provisions on the obligation to repair damage resulting from non-performance or improper performance of the obligation. He assessed that the claim was due (the 3-year limitation period has not expired), and the bank acts in legal transactions as a professional and is to take care of the interests of its clients with due diligence.

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At the same time, the court found that the company’s president had not committed negligence resulting in these unauthorized transfers, and the protection of money stored in the bank by customers could not be subject to the risk of making transactions by unauthorized persons. The court also pointed out that a similar attempt to hack the account of the Olsztyn company, but in a different bank branch, had been detected and actions had been taken to prevent the withdrawal of money.

The defendant bank wished to dismiss the claim in its entirety. He was of the opinion that the district court had wrongly adopted the three-year limitation period in the first place. The attorney for the company that lost the money wanted the sentence upheld. He argued that the bank should act with particular care because it deals with the money of citizens and companies.

The Court of Appeal in Białystok dismissed the bank’s appeal and upheld the verdict.

Injured account holder

Justifying this ruling, judge Krzysztof Chojnowski pointed out that neither the president (which was a requirement) nor any other employee of the company to which the bank account belonged had authorized both transfers. The court unequivocally assessed that the transfers were made as a result of a crime, without any contribution from the company’s president or other employees.

Taking into account the claim, the court referred to the provisions of the bank account agreement, under which the bank undertakes to store the account holder’s money and execute its orders, i.e. monetary settlements.

Judge Chojnowski reminded that the money in the account is the property of the bank, and the account holder is entitled to a claim against the bank for payment of a specified sum. Referring to the issue of transaction authorization, he said that the lack of it (e.g. it was granted by an unauthorized person as a result of criminal activities, as in this case – as a result of a hacker attack) means “unauthorized transfer of assets” to the detriment of the bank.

Judge Chojnowski emphasized that if, however, the bank takes into account such an unauthorized transaction and refuses to consider a possible complaint, the aggrieved party is the holder of the account from which the withdrawal was made.

The risk of withdrawing from a bank account to an unauthorized person or making a settlement on the basis of an instruction issued by such a person is also borne by the bank as part of electronic banking, he said.

Main photo source: Ivanova Ksenia / Shutterstock.com

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