Anti-Crisis Shield 3.0 – the Sejm has passed another amendment to the anti-crisis regulations
On 30 April 2020, the Sejm accepted a bill amending certain acts on protective measures related to the spread of SARS-CoV-2 prepared by the Government. Changes are made to the so-called “Anti-Crisis Shield” (Shield 3.0).
As the Senate sitting is planned for 5-6 May, the new batch of anti-crisis regulations may take effect at the end of the first week in May. Works are also pending (planned in the Sejm’s agenda for 5 May 2020) over a bill regarding subsidies to interest on loans, which may be extended to include a change of regulations governing control of certain investment projects.
Presented below are selected amendments adopted under “Shield 3.0”.
CHANGES CONCERNING TAXES, SOCIAL INSURANCE AND OTHER PUBLIC LAW BURDENS
I. Extension of the list of parties eligible to be exempted from payment of contributions to the Social Insurance Institution (ZUS) to include also some self-employed workers who exceeded the threshold of threefold monthly average salary.
- Those who pay contributions for their own insurance can be exempted from payment in a situation where their revenue was higher than 300% of the forecast average monthly gross salary in the national economy in 2020 but the income from their activity in February 2020 did not exceed 7,000.
II. Extension of the list of parties eligible to a standby payment to include also those self-employed workers who ran their business before 1 April (until now: before 1 February).
III. Extension of the group of micro-entrepreneurs authorised to receive a “micro-loan” to include those who commenced activity before 1 April 2020 (until now: before 1 March).
IV. Extension of the date for payment and submission of the declaration concerning the amount of the “solidarity levy” until 31 May 2020 (subject to the same rules as those applicable to extension of the date for payment and submission of the PIT return – based on the mechanism of voluntary disclosure)
- The Minister of Finance can also waive collection of default interest on untimely paid solidarity levies. To this end the Minister will need to issue a relevant regulation.
V. Introduction of a new public levy – the obligation to make payments to PISF (the Polish Institute of Film Art) by entrepreneurs who provide video on demand (VOD) services. The amount of the new levy is 1.5% of income from fees for the use of media service portals in Poland.
OTHER CHANGES (LEGAL)
VI. Postponement of the deadlines for dematerialisation of shares This change applies to the obligation for joint-stock companies and limited joint-stock partnerships to carry out the process of demataterialisation of shares and their recognition in the share register.
- The deadline for choosing dematerialization regime by the general meeting and for the initial request for submission of the share certificates was postponed until 30.09.2020 (i.e. by 3 months – the previous deadline was 30.06.2020).
- The deadline for invalidation of paper share certificates was extended until 1.03.2021 (the previous deadline was 1.01.2021).
VII. Resumption of (some) court and trial deadlines under the substantive law (in “non-urgent” cases) – Art. 15zzr and Art. 15zzs of the special law, “remote” court sittings in civil law cases and cases brought before administrative courts, as well as civil law judgments issued during sittings in camera
- Deadlines under the substantive law which were suspended due to the epidemic (Art. 15zzr), court and trial dates (Art. 15zzs) are resumed, and will commence (or continue) 7 days after the effective date of this amendment.
- During the period of epidemic threat, epidemic and for one year from the end thereof, open sittings and trials before civil courts will be held via means of instantaneous communication (direct audiovisual transmission), and their participants will not need to be present in the court buildings (except for the closure of a trial, where all members of the adjudicating panel must be present in the courtroom). Additionally, during this period, courts can examine civil-law cases during sittings in camera (unless a party lodges an objection thereto within 7 days).
- In civil-law cases (with no limits regarding the period of epidemic) courts will also be entitled to close a trial and pass a judgment during sittings in camera (provided that the court considers the evidence provided sufficient, and receives written statements of position from the parties or participants of the proceedings), and appeals filed with courts before 7.11.2019 can also be examined during sittings in camera (unless a party demands an appeal hearing within 7 days).
- During the period of epidemic threat, epidemic and for one year from the end thereof, administrative courts can hold trials using means of instantaneous communication (and their participants will not need to be present in the court buildings), while the Supreme Administrative Court (NSA), with the consent of the parties, can examine a cassation request during a sitting in camera.
VIII. The category of urgent cases was extended
- The notion of “urgent cases” will remain in force in the event some courts are closed (due to epidemic).
- The list under Art. 14a of the special law (currently it includes recognition of a petition for restructuring) is extended to include cases after opening of restructuring proceedings, cases for declaration of bankruptcy and cases after declaration of bankruptcy.
IX. No changes in document deliveries to/by courts – also via ePUAP (although the government’s self-correction of 29.04 provided for the possibility of new ways of delivering documents during the state of epidemic threat and epidemic, it was eventually removed from the bill of amendment)
X. Notaries can print out electronic documents made by a public entity and add certified dates to them, if such documents are required for a notarial transaction(during the state of epidemic threat or epidemic).
XI. Anti-usury solutions
- A regulation was included in the Civil Code whereby an agreement under which a natural person undertakes to transfer the ownership of residential real property can be invalidated for the purpose of securing a claim the amount of which, together with maximum interest for two-year delay, does not exceed the value of the real property.
- A limitation of enforcement from a flat or real property with a residential building attached was introduced in the Civil Procedure Code (an additional requirement regarding the value of the principal amount to be enforced to the estimated sum total).
- New types of crimes were included in the Criminal Code. They apply to infringement of the regulations governing maximum interest and costs other than interest.
The above changes may be modified during the legislative process.
Alongside the above act, the Sejm will examine (on 5 May) a bill prepared by the Government concerning subsidies to interest on bank loans provided to COVID-19-affected entrepreneurs to maintain financial liquidity, and amending some other acts.
The regulation is intended to open the way for COVID-19-affected entrepreneurs to apply for subsidies to interest on bank loans provided under agreements concluded by 31 December 2020. The subsidies will be granted by Bank Gospodarstwa Krajowego.
The bill is to include other changes to the special law and other laws connected with the state of epidemic. Additionally, discussions are pending regarding inclusion of an amendment to the act of 24.07.2015 on control of certain investment projects to prevent attempts at acquiring control over some Polish enterprises (and getting at least 10% of shares to be subsequently increased to 20%, 30% or 40%) by entities from outside the EEC (which includes extension of the rights of the President of the Competition and Consumer Protection Office who will be notified of such an intention – under the sanction of invalidity of transactions, deprivation of the voting right and fines).
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