Poland – Liability of company directors and Business judgement rule

Time to read: 2 min

A member of the management board or the supervisory board of a Polish LLC or a joint-stock company is liable to the company for damage caused by an act or omission contrary to the law or the articles of association, unless they are not at fault. In the performance of their duties, they are obliged to take the care due to the professional nature of their activities. In other words, the standard of care is high and they cannot release themselves from the liability indicating that they had no sufficient knowledge or experience.

The burden of proof of the damage and the lack of due dilligence of the board member lies with the company. A board member is liable if their conduct is culpable. However, the company does not have to prove this. It is the board member who must demonstrate that the damage caused by their act or omission was not culpable.

When running a business, board members naturally often move within the boundaries of a certain risk and make various business decisions, the consequences of which are often unforeseeable at the time they are made. They can result in both substantial gains and substantial losses for the company. However, with a high standard of due diligence, it is more difficult to demonstrate a lack of culpability.

A recent amendment of the Polish Code of Commercial Companies and Partnerships which enters into force on 13 October 2022 has articulated the so called „business judgement rule” which has already appeared to a limited extent in case law.

This rule assumes that a member of the management board and supervisory board may act within the limits of reasonable business risk. They are not in breach of their duty of professional care as long as they act in loyalty to the company.

The new law indicates that the assessment of the board member may be made on the basis of information, analyses and opinions available to them when making decisions. The new law may contribute to the collection of documentation in defence of the position (so-called defence file). The board members may protect themselves against the liability towards the company by demonstrating that their actions or omissions were based on expert’s opinions and at the time when they were undertaken they did not exceed the limits of the reasonable business jugdement.

Agata Adamczyk
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