The Warsaw office of Hogan Lovells represents the Malta Foundation in a dispute with the Ministry of Culture regarding the limits of freedom of speech

Based on the agreement between the Malta Foundation and the Ministry of Culture, the Ministry committed itself to co-finance the theatre festival organized by the Foundation over the years 2016 to 2018. The Ministry unjustly refused to pay the grant for 2017, therefore breaking the provisions of the contract.

In the media, Minister Piotr Gliński argued that his decision was based on the fear that Oliver Frljić's guardianship over the festival did not guarantee "the inclusion of all of the participants in an adequate dialogue" and “could jeopardize the rules of social coexistence.”

Oliver Frljić is the Croatian director of the controversial spectacle "Klątwa" which was performed at the Teatr Powszechny in Warsaw. This explanation, however, was only a pretext without any justification within a legal or factual state. The comprehensive programme of all three seasons of the festival had been previously approved by Minister Gliński. The participation and role of Oliver Frljić was known to the Ministry at the time the contract was signed, however the performance of "Klątwa" was not planned as part of the Malta Festival. The attempt to financially punish the Foundation because of Frljić’s participation was a display of an unacceptable restriction of freedom of speech which could have a "freezing effect" on other cultural institutions co-financed using public funds.

The Foundation has tried to resolve the matter in an amicable way, seeking an agreement with the Ministry of Culture. In the absence of the expected results, a lawsuit was filed against the State Treasury at the beginning of June 2018 for not fulfilling its obligations for granting the co-financing. Hogan Lovells, as part of its pro bono activities, is representing the Foundation in this dispute.

- The Minister of Culture and the Malta Foundation signed a three year contract for the co-financing of the festival. The Foundation has fulfilled all its obligations. The Minister, without any justification, did not meet its contractual obligations and refused to pay the grant allocated for year 2017. The Foundation's claim is simply for the Ministry to respect its obligations arising from the agreement.  Pacta sunt servanda (Eng. agreements bind everyone) and, in particular, the state authorities and the Minister of Culture - states dr Wojciech Marchwicki from the Dispute Resolution Team of the Warsaw office of Hogan Lovells; the Foundation's plenipotentiary during the trial.

The Malta Foundation focuses its activities on promoting culture and creating outstanding artistic events. The most important event organized as part of its activities is the Malta Festival Poznań, from which the name of the Foundation is derived. Since 1991, this theatre festival has aimed at creating a platform for independent art and is now one of the most important cultural events in Central and Eastern Europe.

The case is being lead with the support of the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights which mission is to promote a culture of freedom and human rights in Poland and abroad.


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