Bonus remuneration for project manager

Experience / 21.07.2023

The firm’s advocates and attorneys-at-law represent the Client, i.e. a company that is the investor and owner of one of the first and largest shopping malls in southeastern Poland, in a court case concerning the payment of bonus remuneration of more than PLN 2 million to the entity that acted as project manager for the investment in question.

Due to the scale and nature of the investment in question, the Client entrusted provision of construction process management services to a professional entity operating on the market in this industry for many years. The project manager was responsible for, among other things, coordinating the construction work carried out by individual contractors or controlling the compliance of the work performed with the construction permit and design documentation. The parties agreed that the project manager would receive a base salary, while in the event of obtaining a building occupancy permit within the timeframe specified in the contract, in addition to the base salary, he would also receive a bonus remuneration (success bonus).

Upon completion of the contract, a dispute arose between the Client and the project manager over the obligation to pay the bonus remuneration. According to the Client, the project manager failed to perform his duties properly, so there were no grounds for payment of the success bonus. According to the project manager, the inability to obtain an occupancy permit within the agreed timeframe was due to reasons attributable to the Client, such as failure to provide the necessary documentation within the agreed timeframe or the procedure for a replacement construction permit.

The court of first instance resolved the dispute in favor of the Client and dismissed the claim, however, due to an appeal filed by the project manager, the verdict was changed. The Court of Second Instance took the position that due to the nature of the contract linking the parties, which classified as a contract for the provision of services, there could not be bonus remuneration, understood as remuneration for achieving success. The court of second instance also assessed differently the circumstances related to the reasons for the failure to obtain a permit for the use of the investment by the contractual deadline.

In view of such a turn of events, the firm’s advocates and attorneys filed a cassation complaint with the Supreme Court, which was upheld in its entirety.

In connection with the Supreme Court’s judgment in the case, the Client obtained the opportunity to apply for a refund of the amounts that, in connection with the previously final judgment, he was obliged to pay to the project manager, the amount of which, together with interest receivables, exceeded the amount of PLN 3 million.

Against the background of this case, we can clearly see how important it is not only to prepare appropriate agreements with participants in the investment and construction process, including the project manager, but also to know the realities of the entire investment process. Thanks to our previous experience in such matters, we provide our Clients with legal security in these areas.