On 29 January 2021, the Regional Court in Warsaw (as the court of first instance) issued a landmark judgment in Case XXV C 980/11, brought by Eliza Kubarska and Dawid Kaszlikowski for the protection of personal interests.
This important decision has marked the completion of a trial that had been pending since 2011 concerning a novel titled “The Secret Life of Butterflies” (original Polish title: Sekretne życie motyli) by Joanna Onoszko (Krośkiewicz) (published by Znak). The publication triggered a high-profile affair in mountaineering circles, as a result of which the Polish Mountaineering Association organised for the first time ever a verification expedition to check a mountain exploration. The book’s false allegations were repeated by various media, bodies and individuals.
The judgment not only completely prohibits the Author and the Publishing House from publishing and distributing the almost 300-page novel, but also orders an apology including an explicit admission that the book in question contains false information about the Greenland expedition of Eliza Kubarska and Dawid Kaszlikowski as well as about their morals and professional qualifications. Additionally, the Court awarded compensatory damages to the Claimants represented by us.
The book was released almost 10 years ago, on 1 August 2011, but thanks to Marcin Boruc’s quick reaction, as early as on 3 August 2011 (sic!) the Court prohibited the author and the publishing house from putting the work on the market in any form, as an interim measure.
This ban (as well as the bans on promoting and advertising the book in any form) has been upheld by the Court of Appeal in Warsaw; it is legally binding and still in force, but by its very nature it is temporary, whereas the judgment we won establishes a permanent ban.
The judgment sets limits for freedom of speech and standards for publishing activity. It is not legally binding and its written statement of reasons is not yet available.