On Thursday, the Court of Justice of the European Union issued a ruling in the case of Swiss franc borrowers. – The CJEU has once again helped Polish courts and the Polish consumer – says Beata Strzyżowska, legal advisor. Meanwhile, the Polish Bank Association noted that the Tribunal “did not answer the key question regarding the limitation period for banks’ claims.” In the banking sector’s assessment, Thursday’s judgment “does not change the situation of banks or borrowers in any way.”
Court of Justice of the European Union Thursday issued a ruling in which it answered four questions regarding settlements of Swiss franc borrowers with banks. The application was submitted by the District Court for Warsaw-Śródmieście.
Legal advisors about the CJEU judgment
“By responding to the Warsaw court, the Tribunal once again agreed with consumers,” said the Bochenek, Ciesielski i Wspólnicy law firm. Legal advisor Beata Strzyżowska, in her comment on Thursday’s judgment, also emphasized that “the CJEU has once again helped Polish courts and the Polish consumer.” In her opinion, the new ruling of the Tribunal means that “the loan agreement becomes invalid with retroactive effect from the moment of its conclusion, regardless of the moment of submitting the appropriate declaration by the franc borrower.”
“The Court shared our position that making the granting of protection to the consumer conditional on the submission of a declaration of awareness of the consequences of declaring the contract invalid is not justified by the content of Directive 93/13. It is the court hearing the case that should verify whether the loan agreement contains unfair provisions and, if so, ex officio to remove them from the contract, without waiting for the consumer’s statement,” explained legal advisor Wojciech Bochenek from Bochenek, Ciesielski i Wspólnicy Kancelaria Adwokaw i Radców Prawnych in a comment sent to TVN24 Biznes.
According to legal advisor Paweł Stalski, referring to the first question of the Warsaw court, “it should be concluded that the limitation period for banks’ claims cannot be counted from the moment of submitting such a declaration by the Swiss franc borrower (as previously indicated by the Supreme Court in its resolution).”
“The moment from which the limitation period for banks’ claims should be counted is still one of the most important issues for Swiss franc borrowers, because the allegation of limitation is the first (most far-reaching) defense argument against banks’ demands for the return of the loan capital. The same applies to the deadline for calculating interest for consumers.” – he explained.
Legal advisor Beata Strzyżowska emphasized that the bank cannot demand capital interest from the borrower on the loan provided. “Here, in its justification, the CJEU reminds that any benefit to the bank resulting from the loan granted was already ruled on in the judgment of June 15, 2023, case C-520/21,” she added.
“The assumption that the consumer’s claims should be reduced by the equivalent of the capital interest that the bank would be entitled to if the contract were valid is unacceptable under Directive 93/13, because it would mean that the bank makes a profit (in the form of a hypothetical interest rate) from the contract, which is invalid due to the unfair terms it contains,” adds Wojciech Bochenek.
The financial sector is satisfied
Positive moods from the point of view of Swiss franc borrowers are toned down by the banking sector. “The Tribunal’s judgment is positive from the point of view of the stability of the financial sector in Poland,” emphasized the Polish Bank Association.
The association noted that the CJEU “did not answer the key question regarding the limitation period for banks’ claims. It also did not say from when the interest due to the consumer should be calculated.”
“These issues have been left to Polish case law, which has so far been positive for banks in terms of the lack of limitation periods for their claims,” it added.
The Polish Bank Association noted that “the Tribunal pointed out that the possibility of exercising rights by a consumer cannot be made conditional on the consumer submitting a declaration to the court that he does not consent to the unfair term being maintained, that he is aware of the consequences of the invalidity of the contract and consents to the invalidity of the contract.” . “However, the consumer’s declaration is necessary, but it can also be submitted outside the court. This is consistent with the current case law of the Supreme Court (Resolution of the Supreme Court III CZP 6/21)” – it was noted.
Moreover – as emphasized by the banking sector – “the CJEU indicated that when settling the invalidity of a contract, banks cannot retain capital interest accrued in the course of performing the contract, which is consistent with the Court’s previous case law and does not add any additional content.”
“Today’s judgment does not change the situation of banks or borrowers in any way. For this reason, banks still believe that the best way to resolve disputes is to conclude a settlement,” emphasized the Polish Bank Association.
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