It is always a pleasure to report positive developments especially if they remove administrative burdens and make life easier for business. Today I am able to do just that and from a body which is normally a cause of frustration and delay.

As I wrote in Great Expectations a number of changes were being planned to the administration of the Polish companies registration court (KRS) to make the system more user-friendly and to make greater use of electronic filing and retrieval of information. One very welcome change has recently been made: it is now possible to obtain certain company information from the KRS over the internet free of charge.

It is normal in Poland when dealing with a company to check the identity of those purporting to represent the company to ensure that they are authorised to do so and, in particular whether, for example, the signatures of one or two members of the management board are needed validly to sign documents on behalf of the company. Thus for every transaction an up to date (i.e. not older than three months) extract from the KRS was required. The extract gives the full name of the company, the registered office, some limited information about shareholders, and lists the members of the management board and how the management board may legally represent the company. To obtain such an extract it is necessary to file motion ant the KRS and pay a fee of PLN 30 or 60 depending on whether a normal or a full extract is required. The extract is printed off from the KRS computer and has affixed an official stamp. And if you are the company, you will be required to produce an extract whenever dealing with counter parties, official bodies, the courts, and so on.

Now that the promised changes have come into effect it will no longer be necessary to go through this rigmarole since it is possible to download an extract from the comfort of your own computer. This extract is free of charge and, most important, has the same legal validity as the traditional variety. Of course, this being Poland, until folk are used to the new ways there will no doubt be those who insist on seeing an extract with a court stamp and who will simply not accept the electronic version no matter what you tell them but, all being well, they will form an ever diminishing minority.

To those unfamiliar with doing business in Poland this may appear to be only one small step but for the rest of us it represents a giant leap in attitude on the part of the authorities. We have had the tea and sympathy and now we are seeing positive results. Of course, there is still a long way to go but praise where praise is due for at least beginning the journey.

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