In 2016, the Malta Foundation signed a three-year contract for the organisation of the Malta Festival Poznań, which obliged the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage to pay annual dedicated subsidies. However, in 2017, the subsidy was denied in response to appointing Olivier Frljić, author of controversial play The Curse, as one of the Festival’s Curators.
The Malta Foundation, organiser of the Malta Festival Poznań, filed a lawsuit against the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, seeking the payment of PLN 300,000 on account of the Ministry’s failure to pay this amount as a dedicated subsidy for the 2017 Festival. The trial took place on 25 March 2019. Thanks to Helsinki’s Foundation for Human Rights’ kind support, Malta Foundation were represented pro bono by Hogan Lovells Warsaw.
The court’s verdict was announced by the District Court in Warsaw on 3 April 2019. In its decision, the court pointed out that the contract allowed the Ministry to reduce payment on very specific grounds, which was not applicable in that case. Additionally, the court noted that the Ministry had known back in 2015 that Oliver Friljić would curate the 2017 festival, which is why his person couldn’t serve as a basis for withholding payment.
On 21 May 2019, the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage filed an appeal with Warsaw’s Court of Appeal, received by Malta’s legal representative on 5 June 2019. On 19 June, Malta Foundation, represented by dr. Wojciech Marchwicki with Hogan Lovells Warsaw LLP, submitted a response to the Court of Appeal regarding the Ministry’s appeal, demanding its full dismissal . The allegations made in the appeal are completely groundless, constituting a mere reiteration of the arguments that had already been presented in the proceedings in the district court. The provisions of the contract between the foundation and the Ministry unequivocally indicate the obligation to grant the 2017 subsidy.
Malta Foundation would like to thank Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights and Hogan Lovells, whose lawyers represent Malta Foundation pro bono, as well as all legal firms which collaborate pro bono with HFHR.
The case is part of HFHR’s Strategic Litigation Program.