Contributor: Wardyński & Partners
Author: Maciej Zych, Paweł Mazur
1. Is there specific legislation in Poland ruling the using of documents (such as Leases, Security Agreements, Mortgages, Lease Assignments, Novation and IDERAs) executed with the use of digital platforms or any electronic signatures by the local Aviation Authority?
Yes. Poland being a Member State of the EU, is bound by the eIDAS Regulation1, which i.e., obliges all Member States to recognize qualified electronic signatures (QES) as equivalent to a handwritten signature and to allow evidence from electronic signatures (not only handwritten) in legal proceedings (art. 25 of eIDAS Regulation).
The eIDAS Regulation regime is supported and expanded by national legislation. The Civil Code stipulates in art 781 that a statement in an electronic form that is signed using a QES is deemed equivalent to a written document. Furthermore, it is a general rule of Polish civil law that – unless there are statutory or contractual requirements to the contrary – documents, including contracts, can be made in any form., as long as the intentions and consent of all parties to a contract or another instrument is clear and can be proven before court.
All the above applies to administrative proceedings before the Polish Civil Aviation Authority and evidence presented in such proceedings, so in effect, parties can – in principle – rely on documents executed electronically as long as they can prove that authorized persons have indeed executed the document.
2. If your answer to (1) is yes, is there any specific requirement for the validity of such signatures, such as completion with a specific cryptographic platform developed by any local institute of technology?
In general, no. Please note the comment to pt. 1) above.
However, there can be exceptions stemming from statutory or contractual requirements of form. In particular, if the law requires a written form for a document ‘under the pain of being void’, it could only be replaced by a document executed with a qualified electronic signature. Of course, if the governing law requires a special form for a given document (e.g., a notarial deed, notarization of signatures), it cannot be replaced by any electronic format.
Also, electronic filings made with administrative authorities (including CAA) have to be made in one of the formats provided for in art. 14 of the Code of Administrative Proceedings, including a QES or a specific Polish government digital platform. A simple e-mail or message using platforms such as WhatsApp, Messenger or Telegram will not be accepted as a formal filing in legal proceedings (e.g., for registration or license).
3. Does the Aviation Authority in Poland use an electronic register for Aircraft Documents or Aircraft Lease Documents (including Leases, Security Agreements, Mortgages, Lease Assignments, Novation and IDERAs)?
No, the aircraft register itself is an archive of paper-copy documents, including the registration forms and attachments, such as copies of lease agreements or bills of sale.
The CAA does have an internal electronic database that reflects the current contents of the register, but it is only for informative purposes. Moreover, it can only be accessed by the CAA.
4. If your reply to question 3 is yes, is it possible to upload electronic files for registration, such as Leases, Security Agreements, Mortgages, Lease Assignments, Novation and IDERAs with the Aviation Authority in Poland?
5. Do the courts of Poland consider valid and enforceable documents executed by the use of some type of digital signature or certification even if not registered (or registrable) with the local Aviation Authority?
See response to q. 1 above. As a general rule, documents can be executed in any form, including electronically, and that does not prevent them from being valid and enforceable (subject to special form requirements).
6. Is it possible to upload lawsuits, pleadings, and procedural documents electronically in Poland?
The situation varies depending on the type of legal proceedings.
In civil and criminal litigation, electronic format is not accepted for party submissions yet, although there are plans to change this. At the same time, courts in civil litigation can serve court documents (including rulings and summons) using a digital platform.
As noted in p. 2, in administrative proceedings, filings can be made electronically in one of the accepted formats.
7. Do the courts of Poland accept procedural documents executed digitally? Is there any specific certification required? Does Poland make any distinction between official digital signatures and private digital signatures?
No – see the response to pt. 6).
8. Are there any formal requirements for the validity of documents executed by digital signatures? Ex.: Does the consent of the parties to digital signatures have to be expressly referred to in the agreement?
See pt. 1) above. As a rule, documents can be executed in any electronic form that demonstrates the consent of all parties involved – subject to special form rules required for specific types of actions or filings. Express consent to digital signatures is not required.
9. Can foreign entities not located in Poland execute Lease Agreements or any Finance Documents with digital signatures to be filed for registration with the Aviation Authority in Poland? Are there any other formalities required?
See pt. 1) and 2) above. Yes, foreign entities not located in Poland can execute Lease Agreements and Finance Documents with digital signatures. However, for practical purposes (to make proof of valid signing easier), it is best to either have hand-signed copies or use a qualified electronic signature.
10. Does the Aviation Industry in Poland usually use digital tools such as blockchain technology for the purpose of control of Aircraft Documents in substitution of printed paper Aircraft Documents?
11. Are there any Notary or Apostille requirements in Poland? If so, do they apply to electronically executed documents, and how does this affect the possibility of electronic execution and delivery of aviation documents?
Notarized form is required for some transactions and statements governed by Polish law, including for a pledge agreement (which is the local equivalent of an aircraft mortgage). Whenever notarization is required, electronic execution of documents is generally excluded (or, at the least, an additional carbon copy with hand signatures is required).
Apostille is generally required for documents issued by foreign public authorities that are presented to Polish authorities or courts, e.g., excerpts from foreign aircraft registers shown to the Polish CAA at registration. Since local law governs the procedure for applying apostille, in principle, Polish authorities should accept electronically signed foreign documents with valid apostille.
a. Has Poland implemented the e-Apostille program?
1 Regulation (EU) No 910/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 July 2014 on electronic identification and trust services for electronic transactions in the internal market and repealing Directive 1999/93/EC.