Liability of economic operators for damages caused by operation of
a mining plant are regulated primarily by the following laws:
- Act of 9 June 2011 - the Geological and Mining Law (Journal of Laws No. 163, Item 981) - in force since 1 January 2012; and
- Act of 23 April 1964 - the Civil Code (Journal of Laws No. 16, Item 93, as amended).
In the meaning of the aforementioned provisions of law, damage caused by the operation of a mining plant is damage displaying a demonstrated cause and effect relationship with the operation of the mine. The legislation also stipulates that the owner of affected property may oppose the hazards caused by the operation of the mine that is not operated in compliance with prevailing provisions of law. The owner is entitled to demand redress of the damage caused by such operation on the principles defined in the law.
The legal regulations in force since 1 January 2012 vest the right to choose the manner of redressing the damage with the injured party, while at the same time allowing - going beyond the existing principle of reinstatement (to the condition from before the damage occurred) - the possibility of repairing the damage by way of adequate monetary amount payment, in keeping with the provisions of Article 363 § 1 of the Civil Code.
The duty of reinstatement is on the perpetrator of the damage, whereby this duty may be performed by the injured party themselves - upon consent of the perpetrator of the damage - in return for a payment of a reasonable (i.e. reflecting the incurred expenditures) monetary amount. Damages to farming land are redressed under the provisions of farming land protection laws. The provisions regarding redress of damages caused by the operation of a mine are applied accordingly to prevent such damages.
Claims for redress of damages caused by the operation of a mining plant are pursued under the civil law, therefore any potential disputes are resolved by competent common courts. However, a claim can be brought before a court only after all the relevant settlement procedures have been followed ineffectively. The procedures are deemed to have been followed ineffectively if the economic operator has refused to conclude a settlement or if 30 days have elapsed as from the date on which the injured party raised the claim, unless the injured party - when requesting a settlement - sets a longer time limit. However, if within this time limit the economic operator has taken actual actions aimed at non-litigious satisfaction of the claim, the settlement procedure is deemed effective (even if 30 days have already elapsed as from the date of making the claim application).
As stipulated in Article 96 sec. 1 of the Act on Court Fees in Civil Cases, the party seeking redress for damages caused by the operation of a mining plant referred to in the Geological and Mining Law is not liable to pay any court fees.
A claim for redress of damage caused by the operation of a mining plant is barred by the statute of limitations upon the lapse of five (5) years as of the date on which the injured party became aware of the damage.