A new form of legal activities - document form

On the 8th of September 2016, an amendment to the Civil Code entered into force, which introduces, among others, a new form for legal activities to marketing law, namely the document form. The purpose of introducing the document form to the Civil Code, in accordance with the reasons for the amendment, is to create the legal framework for the functioning of the form of performing legal activities, which is widely used in trade anyway (e.g. e-mail or SMS), and which is gaining more and more importance, particularly displacing the traditional written form.

To preserve the document form it will be sufficient to submit a declaration of intent in the form of a document, so as to determine the person submitting the statement. A document is any data carrier enabling to get acquainted with its content.

So, the document will be information containing a declaration of intent, information which is stored (perpetuated) on a data carrier that can be read. Therefore, a signature of the person submitting the declaration of intent is not a necessary element of the document. The document may be reproduced in any manner, for example by writing characters, graphic characters, audio, video, using available tools or devices, e.g. a pen, a computer, tablet, phone, smartphone. Similarly, the provisions of the Civil Code do not provide for restrictions on the type of data carrier on which the information is perpetuated. An example of such a data carrier can be a file stored on a hard drive. The key to the existence of a document within the meaning of the amended provisions of the Civil Code is to be able to save the information on the data carrier and to read this information from the data carrier.

According to the explanatory memorandum to the amendment, the document can be stored either on a single computer data carrier or multiple data carriers containing only part of the document, provided, however, that it will be possible to read and restore the whole document using the appropriate software.

Document forms feature reduced formalism than written form, mainly due to the fact that a signature is not required. In order to maintain this form, identification of the person submitting the declaration of intent is also crucial, but in this respect the Civil Code does not provide for specific regulations. Therefore, it can be assumed that identification may occur, for example, after analyzing the content of the document or checking the data carrier or device on which the data carrier has been saved.

The consequences of failure to retain the document form for legal activities are the same as in the case of not retaining the written form. As a rule, reservation of the document form without pain of nullity has the effect that in the event of failure to retain the reserved form, evidence in the form of witness testimonies or hearings of the parties to the fact of the activity are not admissible in a dispute. If the parties have reserved performance of actions in the document form, without specifying the consequences of failure to retain this form, in case of doubt, it is deemed that it was reserved exclusively for the purposes of evidence. In the event of failure to retain the document form, the legal action will be null and void, if such effect is provided for by the law or the nullity was claimed by the party directly in the content of the legal action.08