2019 Financial
and Social Report


Below please find the data on the court cases pending, brought up by and against entities of the Group. A separate category are the proceedings related to the activities of the Tax Control Authority described in Chapter 14. note 15) "Corporate Income Tax".

Value of the court litigations, as at 31.12.2019, in which the companies of the Group were a plaintiff, totalled PLN 306.4 million.

On January 3 2018, Bank Millennium received decision of the President of the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection (UOKIK), in which the President of UOKIK found infringement by the Bank of the rights of consumers. In the opinion of the President of UOKiK the essence of the violation is that the Bank informed consumers (it regards 78 agreements) in responses to their complaints, that the court verdict stating the abusiveness of the provisions of the loan agreement regarding exchange rates does not apply to them. According to the position of the President of UOKiK the abusiveness of contract’s clauses determined by the court  in the course of abstract control is constitutive and effective for every contract from the beginning.  As a result of the decision, the Bank was obliged to:

  • send information on the UOKiK’s decision to the said 78 clients,
  • place the information on  decision and the decision itself on the website and on Twitter,
  • to pay a fine amounting to PLN 20.7 mln.

The decision of the President of UOKIK is not final. The Bank does not agree with this decision and lodged an appeal within the statutory time limit.

On January 7, 2020, the first instance court dismissed the Bank’s appeal in its entirety. The court presented the view that the judgment issued in the course of the control of a contractual template (in the course of an abstract control), recognizing the provisions of the template as abusive, determines the abusiveness of similar provisions in previously concluded contracts. Therefore, the information provided to consumers was incorrect and misleading. As regards the penalty imposed by UOKiK, the court pointed out that the policy of imposing penalties by the Office had changed in the direction of tightening penalties and that the court agrees with this direction.

In the Bank’s assessment, the Court should not assess the Bank’s behaviour in 2015 from the perspective of today’s case-law views on the importance of abstract control (it was not until January 2016 that the Supreme Court’s resolution supporting the view of the President of UOKiK was published), nor should it impose penalties for these behaviours using current policy. The above constitutes a significant argument against the validity of the judgment and supports the appeal which the Bank intends to make to the Court of second instance.

The verdict issued on January 7 is not final. The bank will appeal to the court of second instance. According to current estimates of the risk of losing the dispute, the Bank has not created a provision.

The Bank (along with other banks) is also a party to the dispute with UOKiK, in which the President of UOKiK recognized the practice of participating banks, including Bank Millennium, in an agreement aimed at jointly setting interchange fee rates charged on transactions made with Visa and Mastercard cards as restrictive of competition, and by decision of 29 December 2009 imposed a fine on the Bank in the amount of PLN 12.2 million. Case is pending, the Bank has created a reserve in the amount equal to the penalty imposed.

As at 31.12.2018, the most important proceeding, in the group of the court cases where the Group’s companies were defendant, was a case brought up by  Europejska Fundacja Współpracy Polsko-Belgijskiej/European Foundation for Polish-Belgian Cooperation (EFWP-B) against Bank Millennium S.A., worth of the dispute 521.9 million PLN with statutory interest from 05.04.2016 until the day of payment.

The plaintiff filed the suit dated 23.10.2015 to the Regional Court in Warsaw; the suit  was served to the Bank on 04.04.2016. According to the plaintiff, the basis for the claim is damage to their assets, due to the actions taken by the Bank and consisting in the wrong interpretation of the Agreement for working capital loan concluded between the Bank and PCZ S.A., which resulted in placing the loan on demand.

In the case brought by EFWP-B, the plaintiff moved for securing the claim in the amount of 250.0 million PLN. The petition was dismissed on 5.09.2016 with legal validity by the Appellate Court. The Bank is requesting complete dismissal of the suit, stating disagreement with the charges raised in the claim. Supporting the position of the Bank, the Bank’s attorney submitted a binding copy of final verdict of Appeal Court in Wrocław favourable to the Bank, issued in the same legal state in the action brought by PCZ SA against the Bank.

At present, the Court of first instance is conducting evidence proceedings.

Additionally, on 19 January 2018 the Bank has received the lawsuit petition of First Data Polska SA requesting the payment of 186.8 mln PLN. First Data claims a share in an amount which the Bank has received in connection with the Visa Europe takeover transaction by Visa Inc. The plaintiff based its request on an agreement with the Bank on co-operation in scope of acceptance and settlement of operations conducted with the usage of Visa cards. The Bank does not accept the claim and filed the response to the lawsuit petition within the deadline set forth in the law. In accordance with the judgment of 13/06/2019, the Bank won the case before the Court of first instance. The case is currently pending before the Court of second instance. According to current estimates of the risk of losing the dispute, the Bank has not create a provision.

As at 31.12.2019, the total value of the subjects of the other litigations in which the Group appeared as defendant, stood at PLN 496.9 million (excluding the class actions described below). In this group the most important category are cases related with FX loans mortgage portfolio and cases related to forward transactions (option cases).

On 3 October 2019, the Court of Justice of the European Union (‚the CJEU’) issued the judgment in Case C-260/18 in connection with the preliminary questions formulated by the District Court of Warsaw in the case against Raiffeisen Bank International AG. The judgment of the CJEU, in connection with the interpretation of European Union law made therein, is binding on domestic courts. The judgment in question interpreted Article 6 of Directive 93/13 in its answers to the preliminary questions. In the light of the subject matter judgment, Article 6 of Directive 93/13: must be interpreted as meaning that (i) the national court may, on the basis of national law, conclude that a credit agreement cannot continue to exist without unfair terms on the ground that the removal of those unfair terms would alter the nature of the main subject-matter of the contract; (ii) the effects for the consumer’s situation resulting from the cancellation of the contract as a whole must be assessed in the light of the circumstances existing or foreseeable at the time when the dispute arose and that the will of the consumer is decisive as to whether he wishes to maintain the contract and avoid those effects; (iii ) Article 6 of the Directive precludes the filling in of gaps in the contract caused by the removal of unfair terms from the contract (even if the non-filling of those gaps would result in detrimental for consumer falling of the contract), solely on the basis of national legislation of a general nature which provides that the effects expressed in the content of a legal act are to be supplemented, in particular, by principles arising from equity rules or established customs; (iv) Article 6 of the Directive precludes the maintenance of unfair terms in the contract (even if their removal would result in the contract being annulled to the detriment of the consumer) if the consumer has not consented to the maintenance of such terms.

The CJEU judgment concerns only the situation where the national court has previously found the contract term to be abusive. It is the exclusive competence of the national courts to assess, in the course of judicial proceedings, whether a particular contract term can be regarded as abusive in the circumstances of the case. It can reasonably be assumed that the legal issues relating to foreign currency mortgage loans will be further examined by the national courts within the framework of disputes considered which would possibly result in the emergence of further interpretations, which are relevant for the assessment of the risks associated with subject matter proceedings. This circumstance indicates the need for constant analysis of these matters. Further request for clarification and ruling addressed to the European Court of Justice and Polish Supreme Court may also be filed with potential impact on the outcome of the court cases.

As at the end of 2019, the Bank had 2010 loan agreements under individual litigations concerning indexation clauses of FX mortgage loans submitted to the courts with the total value of claims filed by the plaintiffs amounting to PLN 203 million. Until 31.12.2019 only 19 cases were finally resolved and the vast majority of such judgments were in accordance with the Bank’s interest. The claims formulated by the Clients in individual proceedings primarily concern the declaration of invalidity of the contract or payment for reimbursement of allegedly undue performance, due to the abusive nature of indexation clauses. The pushy advertising campaign observed in the public domain to encourage claims against banks may lead to an increase of the number of future court disputes. In addition, the Bank is a party to the group proceedings (class action) subject matter of which is to determine the Bank’s liability towards the group members based on unjust enrichment (undue benefit) ground in connection with the foreign currency mortgage loans concluded. It is not a payment dispute. The judgment in these proceedings will not grant any amounts to the group members. The number of credit agreements covered by these proceedings is 3281. The case is still before its first hearing, which is scheduled for March 2020.

Based on ZBP (the Polish Banking Association) data gathered from all banks having FX mortgage loans, vast  majority of disputes were finally resolved in  favour of banks until 2019 year. However, after the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) judgment issued on 3 October 2019 (Case C-260/18) there is a risk, that so far mostly positive for banks line of verdict in courts may change.

Taking into consideration the increased legal risk related to FX mortgages, Bank Millennium created PLN 223 million provision for legal risk. The methodology developed by the Bank is based on the following main parameters: (1) the number of current (including class action) and potential future court cases that will appear within a specified (three-year) time horizon, (2) the amount of the Bank’s potential loss in the event of a specific court judgment (three negative judgment scenarios were taken into account), (3) the probability of obtaining a specific court verdict calculated on the basis of statistics of judgments of the banking sector in Poland and legal opinions obtained. Variation in the level of provisions or concrete losses will depend on the final court decisions about each case and on the number of court cases.

Bank Millennium undertakes number of actions at different levels towards different stakeholders in order to mitigate legal and litigation risk as regard FX mortgage loans portfolio. The Bank is open to negotiate case by case favourable conditions for early repayment (partial or total) or conversion of loans to PLN. On the other hand, the Bank will continue to take all possible actions to protect its interests in courts while at the same time being open to find settlement with customers in the court under reasonable conditions.

Finally it should be mentioned, that the Bank has to maintain additional own funds for the coverage of additional capital requirements related to FX mortgage portfolio risks (Pillar II FX buffer) in the amount of 4.96 p.p. (4.87 p.p. at the Group level), which corresponds to PLN 1.85 billion, part of which is allocated to operational/legal risk.

On the 3rd of December 2015 a class action was served on the Bank. A group of the Bank’s debtors (454 borrowers party to 275 loan agreements) is represented by the Municipal Consumer Ombudsman in Olsztyn. The plaintiffs demanded payment of the amount of PLN 3.5 million, claiming that the clauses of the agreements, pertaining to the low down payment insurance, are unfair and thus not binding. Plaintiff extended the group in the court letter filed on the 4th of April 2018, therefore the claims increased from PLN 3.5 million to over PLN 5 million.

Actual status:

On the 1st of October 2018, the group’s representative corrected the total amount of claims pursued in the proceedings and submitted a revised list of all group members, covering the total of 697 borrowers – 432 loan agreements. The value of the subject of the dispute, as updated by the claimant, is PLN 7,371,107.94.

The next stage of the proceedings is establishing the composition of the group (i.e. determining whether all persons who joined the proceedings may participate in the group).

As at 31 December 2019, there were also 537 individual court cases regarding LTV insurance.

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