Weighty court victory for InPost against Polish mail monopoly
Poland’s national postal service Polish Post has lost a key court battle against a private sector competitor it claimed was delivering mail in violation of the country’s monopoly protections. The verdict of the district court in Krakow is open to a possible appeal.
Although Poland has to fully open up its postal market to competition from the private sector from 2013, under EU postal legislation, the country still currently has restrictions against anyone other than Polish Post delivering mailpieces lighter than 50g.
The restrictions mean that private sector companies delivering sub-50g letters would have to charge at least 2.5 times the rate charged by Polish Post.
For years, private sector mail company InPost, part of Integer.pl Group, has been bypassing the restrictions by offering delivery services in which small metal plates are added to individual letters to bring them into the competitive market.
The company has previously argued that the plates were seals, protecting mail against unauthorised opening, but even at the higher weight category was delivering the letters for a lower rate than Polish Post’s equivalent sub-50g rate.
On Wednesday (25 January), the commercial division of the district court in Krakow threw out Polish Post’s demand for compensation for what it saw as an illegal act circumventing Poland’s monopoly protections.
Polish Post had been demanding that InPost should return 60.71m PLN ($18.97m USD) in “improperly obtained financial benefits”, plus interest since November 2010, claiming that InPost had engineered its mail in such a way that it illegally circumvented the requirement to charge a rate above that of Polish Post.
The Post had also wanted InPost banned from accepting, transporting or delivering any mail items posted in a manner that would prevent them from being assessed against the protections of the universal postal service.
However, the court dismissed the case, despite the fact that Polish Post’s claims were based on a review by Poland’s Office of Electronic Communications.
Commenting on the dismissal, Polish Post said in a statement that it would be considering its options once it had fully reviewed the court’s order.
The company said in a statement: “Polish Post respects the order of the court, but is convinced of the merits of its case. After reviewing the written reasons for the order, Polish Post will take all possible actions to protect the economic and legal interests of the company.”
In a statement commenting on the court’s dismissal, InPost and Integer.pl Group president Rafal
Brzoska noted that Polish Post’s claims had been “dismissed entirely”, but he added that the state-run postal service does have the right to appeal.
The company president said he fully accepted the judgement of the Krakow court, although it was not necessarily final and binding.
Brzoska said: “The board of InPost and Integer.pl shall ensure once again, based on the results of the inspection carried out within the company by the Office of Electronic Communications, that companies within the Group operate in compliance with the Postal Act and its interpretation.