Not only the state court. It may be faster

Łukasz Wydra, PhD

Embedded firmly in the common law legal order, the maxim “justice delayed is justice denied” deserves some reflection. Its reliability, however, should be supported by numbers.

According to the most current data from the Ministry of Justice[1], in 2021. common courts received 1,492,182 cases, of which district courts received 89,056 cases[2]. It did not specify how many of these cases involved “classic” business-to-business disputes. However, statistics on the following are available. the duration of court proceedings[3], including business-to-business litigation (excluding injunctive and writ-of-payment proceedings). Their average duration was in 2023. 20.8 months, and the largest number of them, 5,190, lasted more than 12 months. Of these, 2,401 cases were handled for up to 2 years, 1,194 were handled for up to 3 years, while 1,034 were handled for 3 to 5 years. To summarize, 83.7% of the proceedings then lasted between 2 and 3 years.

According to information obtained unofficially from Poland’s largest permanent arbitration courts, arbitration proceedings take an average of 6 to 12 months. This time may be extended, for example, when an expert opinion is required in the case. So much for practice.

The principle of party autonomy, cardinal to arbitration, allows the parties to freely shape, among other things. rules of conduct. This freedom is particularly noticeable in ad hoc arbitration. Parties can also choose a permanent arbitration court. Usually the parties feel closely bound by the rules of the permanent arbitration courts under which the proceedings are to take place.

It should be considered permissible for the parties to express their wish for an early settlement of the case, binding on the arbitrators. It should be a reasonable period of time (not, for example, 3 weeks from the date of filing a lawsuit).

If the deadline for issuing a judgment is not modified, the rules of procedure applied by the arbitration court in question will be binding in this regard. Nowadays, in principle, it is common for the bylaws of these institutions to specify within what time limit a judgment must be issued (e.g. 9 months[4]). As a rule, it is permissible to extend it when necessary. Increasingly, permanent arbitration courts are also allowing cases to be heard on an expedited basis; arbitrators should then issue an award more quickly, e.g. within 3 months[5].

The decision to choose between state court and arbitration should take into account the duration of the proceedings. If one accepts that “numbers don’t lie,” certainly arbitrage should be an interesting option.

[1] The number of incoming, resolved and pending cases in common courts in Poland.

[2] Data for subsequent years should be expected to be made available.

[3] Data: average duration of litigation in 2011-2013 – selected repertories. Source: multi-year studies / Statistical base / (, accessed 11.03.2024.

[4] Rules of the Court of Arbitration at the National Chamber of Commerce in Warsaw.

[5] Rules of the Court of Arbitration at the Confederation of Lewiatan in Warsaw.


dr Łukasz Wydra
ADVOCATE, PARTNER+48 22 416 60

See other posts