RKKW defends clients against allegations of unfair competition (and a multi-million dollar claim)

One of the largest private airlines in Poland brought a claim for USD 3.5 million in damages against its former employees for allegedly committing an act of unfair competition. The damage for which the claimant sought compensation allegedly resulted from the takeover of a ‘key’ customer of the claimant by a newly established aviation company. This was alleged to have occurred as a result of the transfer of information constituting company secrets (in particular commercial contract data) by RKKW’s clients to the newly established competitor and its subsequent use. In addition to compensation for damages, the claimant also demanded a public apology.

The RKKW team entered the case in the course of the proceedings, when the claimant, represented by one of the reputable Warsaw law firms, managed to convince the court to grant very substantial security for the claim (including seizure of receivables from bank accounts). At the time, the Court seemed to be very strongly convinced by the plaintiff’s reasoning.

After complaints lodged by RKKW, the security on the defendants’ assets was revoked by the Court of Appeal. After a lengthy trial, the Court of First Instance was successfully persuaded that the defendants had not disclosed any contract prices and that no damage had ever occurred to the claimant’s assets. Furthermore, the claimant terminated cooperation with the alleged ‘key client’, as this cooperation – along with the development of the company and obtaining more lucrative contracts – became unprofitable. It was proved that the reasons for ending the cooperation with the so-called ‘key client’ had nothing to do with the defendants’ actions.

The claimant appealed against the decision of the Court of First Instance dismissing the claim in its entirety, requesting that the judgment be changed and damages awarded.

In the judgment of 29 December 2021 (file ref. no. VI ACa 888/19), the Court of Appeal in Warsaw dismissed the claimant’s appeal in its entirety. In justification, the Court emphasized, among other things, that the claimant failed to prove the damage in principle and that there was no causal link between the respondents’ actions and the alleged damage.

The clients were represented in the dispute by Aneta Pankowska, attorney-at-law and Partner at RKKW, with support from the firm’s IP team.

The judgment is final and binding.