“Law and business” – new series of meetings with in-house lawyers in Cracow
On 22 November, a first of a series of events for in-house counsels co-organized by the Polish Association of Corporate Lawyers (PSPP) in cooperation with its strategic partner PwC Legal Poland took place in the beautiful city of Cracow. The idea is to bring together general counsels and other in-house lawyers from a big range of smaller and bigger companies and enhance the exchange of ideas on how to effectively and efficiently resolve legal challenges companies are currently facing.
What seemed to be a very successful first meeting of a series included discussions on:
- a report on Legal Tech prepared recently by PwC
- the question how new technologies can help legal divisions of companies to efficiently accommodate changes in (ever increasing) legal regulations and
- an update on recent regulatory changes, in particular the new draft of the Polish statute on the liability of collective entities for acts prohibited under penalty.
Report on Legal Tech
The report on Legal Tech (“New technologies in the work of lawyers and transformation of legal departments. Analysis of the challenges and trends”) covered the results of various surveys, including on the following questions:
- which new technologies are already in use in Polish legal departments, courts and authorities
- whether companies want to and do invest in new technologies and
- should repeatable legal processes be outsourced to third parties (alternative suppliers of legal services).
The report confirms the growing perceptions in legal department of significant impact of technological solutions on the way the legal teams operate, but it is precisely the difficulties with the implementation of new technologies, as well as budget constraints that are one of the biggest challenges.
It also confirms the trend of outsourcing of legal processes on the Polish legal services market. Over 60% of respondents indicated that there are a number of legal processes where they involve external lawyers. This is particularly true for court proceedings, mergers and acquisitions as well as employment law issues.
The respondents to the survey also quite commonly pointed out the need to invest in legal technologies, which are designed to improve the way lawyers work. Bearing this in mind, the question is whether outsourcing of some legal processes to external law firms will remain necessary or will these activities be carried out by internal legal departments using advanced technological solutions.
Liability of collective entities for acts prohibited under penalty in Poland
Liability of legal persons or, more broadly, collective entities, for prohibited acts is an essential component of the mechanism for counteracting and combating serious economic and fiscal crime, including corruption. Although the relevant regulations exist in Poland for over a dozen years, they are completely ineffective.
The number of cases conducted against collective entities is small. For instance, in 2015, 14 cases were filed with the courts and there were just a few convictions in the recent years. The model adopted currently in Poland has not been functioning properly.
The essence of the proposed changes consists in eliminating the previous conviction of a natural person as a condition of the collective entity’s responsibility. This current formal premise is to be replaced with a substantive premise of finding that a natural person performing certain functions in a collective entity committed a prohibited act that brought or could have benefited the entity. This issue can be settled independently by the court in proceedings regarding the liability of a collective entity, regardless of conviction.
The consequence of this change is the possibility of conducting pre-trial proceedings regarding the liability of a collective entity and conducting a trial in such a case simultaneously with the process against a natural person.
We look forward to the next editions of the event series and will be there to report back!