The introduction of the provisions of the Act on consumer credit in Poland, as early as 2011, was a necessity and a consequence of the implementation into the Polish legal order of Directive 2008/48 / EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of April 23, 2008, on consumer credit agreements (Dz. EU Official Journal L Series from 2008 No. 133, p. 66, as amended).
Currently, this Directive has changed, and the Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council 2014/17 / EU of 4 February 2014 on consumer credit agreements related to residential real estate is in force. The directive was issued in order to unify the consumer credit market within the European Union.
Thanks to the Consumer Credit Act, it was possible to increase the legal protection granted to consumers when they incur credit obligations with banks and other types of credit institutions.
Who is affected by the Consumer Credit Act?
We already know what is meant by the concept of the Consumer Credit Act. However, it is worth saying who is affected by the Consumer Credit Act? Its provisions apply to two parties to the loan agreement – borrowers and lenders, but also to loan brokers.
In such a case, the borrower is the consumer, i.e. a person who meets the conditions for being considered a consumer in accordance with the provisions of the Act of 23 April 1964 – Civil Code. Article 22 1 indicates that a consumer is a natural person who performs with the entrepreneur a legal act not related directly to his business or professional activity.
The other party to the contract is the lender, i.e. a bank, cooperative savings and credit union, as well as other financial institutions, including loan companies, and even natural persons conducting business activities.
The lender is simply an entrepreneur within the meaning of the Act of 23 April 1964 – Civil Code, which, in the scope of its business or professional activity, grants or promises to grant credit to a consumer.
The entrepreneur, in turn, is a natural person, a legal person and an organizational unit conducting business or professional activity on its own behalf. There are also credit intermediaries, i.e. entrepreneurs within the meaning of the Civil Code, other than the lender, who in the scope of their business or professional activity obtain financial benefits, including remuneration from the consumer.
They carry out actual or legal activities related to the preparation, offer or conclusion of credit agreements, acting for a fee.
Since when is the Consumer Credit Act in force?
On May 12, 2011, the provisions of the Act on the Consumer Credit Act were adopted. Since when is this act in force? Well, it entered into force on December 18, 2011, and at the same time replaced the Act of July 20, 2001, on consumer credit.
In addition, on March 11, 2016, an amendment to the Consumer Credit Act came into force, which, among others set limits on non-interest loan costs. The modification of its provisions also included a draft amendment to the so-called Anti-usury Act of 2019.
Amendments to the Consumer Credit Act
As we have already mentioned, the first major amendment to the Consumer Credit Act entered into force in 2011. The new act was an implementation of the EU directive. What changes in the Consumer Credit Act came into effect then? This is best shown in the table below:
In 2016, the Consumer Credit Act was amended again. The changes that were introduced then were mainly issues related to the APRC. The new act on consumer credit has been amended in response to the so-called anti-usury act.
At that time, the maximum amount of non-interest loans or credit costs was introduced. They should not exceed:
- 25% total loan amount (permanent),
- 30 percent of the total amount of consumer credit per annum (variable part),
- 100% of the total value of the loan if it is granted for several years.
The maximum fees connected with arrears in the payment of receivables were also limited by law. The highest fee for delay in annual terms may not exceed twice the statutory interest rate.
Along with the amendment to the Act on consumer credit, a Register of Loan Companies was also created, which is supervised by the Polish Financial Supervision Authority. Every legally operating loan company must obtain an entry in such a register.
Main provisions of the Consumer Credit Act
The most important thing in the Consumer Credit Act is to define what should also be understood by the term “consumer credit”. In connection with applicable regulations, this type of loan is any loan granted in the amount not exceeding USD 255 550 or the equivalent of this amount in a currency other than USD.
Consumer credit should be granted by the lender to the consumer in the scope of conducted business activity. A consumer loan agreement can also be understood as a loan agreement not secured by a mortgage, which is intended for the renovation of a house or apartment in the amount not exceeding USD 255,550.
The Consumer Credit Act includes the main provisions regarding the definition of such loans in the concept of consumer credit. It houses:
- Loan agreement.
- Credit agreement within the meaning of the Banking Law.
- Agreement on deferred to the consumer the date of fulfilling the cash benefit, if he is obliged to bear any costs related to the deferral of the performance of the benefit.
- Credit agreement, in which the creditor incurs a liability to a third party and the consumer undertakes to return the fulfilled benefit to the creditor.
- Revolving loan agreement.
A consumer credit agreement should be concluded in writing unless separate provisions provide for a different specific form for such a contract. It should be formulated in a clear and understandable way for each party.