The Supreme Court adopted a resolution on 3 October 2023 which should be of interest for companies and other corporate entities suffering unlawful violations of their personal rights.
The Supreme Court was asked to resolve Whether a legal person may seek general damages for non-pecuniary loss caused to it through infringement of its personal rights?*
The question was asked by the Court of Appeals in Gdańsk which was hearing an appeal case involving an adverse on-line opinion about a company and its products. The company demanded removal of the negative publicity, publication of apologies and an award of PLN 22,000 in general damages for non-pecuniary loss. The case originally came before the trial court which, among other remedies, awarded the company PLN 5 thousand in general damages.* However, the defendant appealed and the appellate court in Gdańsk was in doubt whether a legal person (corporation) may seek general damages on the basis that it has incurred a non-pecuniary loss due to an infringement of its personal rights. According to the Court of Appeals, the concept of a legal person precludes general damages awards because a legal person is incapable of feeling this sort of harm.
The case came before the Supreme Court where the Civic Rights Ombudsman joined in and supported the Court of Appeals’ position all along, requesting a resolution that will clearly preclude general damages awards for non-pecuniary losses to legal persons in connection with unlawful infringement of their personal rights.
Yet the Supreme Court ruled in favour of corporations, saying that a legal person is entitled to claim money for non-pecuniary losses suffered due to an infringement of its personal rights.
This important verdict should now resolve all doubts as to whether or not corporations may claim general damages for non-pecuniary losses.
Supreme Court case number III CZP 22/23
*Under Article 448 of the Civil Code in connection with Article 43 of the Civil Code.