The court will not reduce the contractual penalty ex officio

Publication / 01.08.2019

On February 28, 2019. The Supreme Court ruled on a non-competition agreement which the parties contracted for a period of six months after the termination of the employment relationship (ref. I PK 257/17). The employer sued the former employee for contractual penalty, accusing the employee of violating his obligation to refrain from competitive activities. The court of second instance supported this position, but found the contractual penalty grossly excessive and reduced its amount to the level of compensation reserved for the employee.

The Supreme Court took the position that the contractual penalty can be reduced only at the express request of the employee in accordance with Article 484 of the Civil Code. The Court also emphasized that the mere filing of a motion to dismiss an action cannot have the procedural and substantive legal effect referred to in this provision, thereby rejecting the automaticity of contractual penalty mitigation.