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פוסט אורח: על כלכלה ומשפט בפולין… לא מה שחשבתם

אנו שמחים לארח את עו”ד  Kamila Wróblewska, עורכת-דין הפועלת בפולין, בפוסט המבקש לבחון את הכלכלה ומערכת המשפט בפולין, ועל הטענה כי קל (יחסית) לעשות עסקים במדינה מתפתחת זו.

עו”ד  Kamila Wróblewska הינה עו"ד פעילה בפולין, הדוברת פולנית, אנגלית ועברית, בעלת התמחות בתחום הנדל"ן, דיני המשפחה (לרבות צוואות וירושות) ותחומים מסחריים נוספים. לכניסה לאתר האינטרנט שלה יש להקליק כאן. קריאה מהנה.

The legal system in Poland / Adv. Kamila Wróblewska

Shalom, I am a lawyer from Tri-City (Sopot, Gdańsk, Gdynia) in Poland. I have been working as a lawyer for over 7 years now, and main legal fields are family law, inheritance law, real estate law, criminal law, civil law and citizenship legal issues

Poland is a fascinating country and I am more than happy to elaborate a bit about the legal market and 'how to do business' in Poland. For further assistance and clarifications, I can be reached at my website

For starters- Short remarks on business in Poland

Clerks' mentality– Israelis coming to Poland for business (and not only for business) should take into account that clerks in Poland have a mentality similar to clerks in Israel which means that bureaucracy rules (although the situation is improving in the last years and especially among the young generation). Therefore one should be nice to clerks

Clerk's language– The other thing is that most of the clerks do speak English only on a very basic level if at all (sometimes they speak a different foreign language, especially Russian or German, but not fluently either). Therefore it would be better to be accompanied by an interpreter or somebody who speaks Polish as a mother tongue when arranging business matters, also when going to the notary public if needed

Working hours– There is no siesta – it means that banks and firms stay open all the time on weekdays (Monday through Friday) usually from around 9 or 10 am (sometimes even 11 am) till 5 or 6 pm, sometimes later – especially shops in malls

Purchasing an apartment– Generally, foreigners can buy apartments, houses or land in Poland without any special permission (there are few exceptions). Apartments in large cities usually have prices that are at least slightly cheaper than those in Israeli large cities

Citizenship issues– Israelis who want to become Polish citizens can retain Israeli citizenship as well. Main business centers are Warsaw, Krakow, Lodz, Wroclaw, Poznan and Gdansk (all of them have international airports with numerous flights to other European cities and some of them also to Israel – Ben Gurion or Ovda). In order to establish a limited liability company it is enough to have a capital of 5000 PLN, about 5600 NIS

a) A brief history of the Polish legal system

Polish law is a part of the continental legal system that prevails in most of Europe (including the most populous countries such as Russia, Germany and France) and therefore it is very different from the legal systems of the USA, Israel or the UK. Hence Polish law is to a certain extent based on Roman law and to a much larger extent on Napoleon’s Code

Thus after gaining independence in 1918, the newly established legal system of Poland was somewhat influenced by the legal systems of above mentioned countries as well as by French law. Between 19181939 the Polish law was largely unified, and the local differences mostly disappeared. However, the region of Silesia (also known as Schlessien in German) had been granted autonomy

A local aspect of Polish legal system in the period between WWI and WWII was exhibited in the procedure concerning testimonies. In order to testify as a witness in front of the court one had to swear oath of allegiance to the Bible (if one was Christian) or to the Torah, if one was Jewish

During WWII large parts of Poland were incorporated into Nazi Germany, while other huge chunks of the country – the eastern regions of Poland which currently constitute a part of Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania were annexed by Soviet Union. Only a part of Poland occupied by Nazis had a special status (it included Warsaw/Varsha and Cracow/Kroke) where Polish law was applied to a certain extent

Parts of Poland were liberated by Soviet troops, and until 1989 Poland was under the influence of the Soviet Union and it was also expressed in the legal system which had many socialist influences and largely disrespected private property

From 1989 till today, Polish law has undergone a process of immense alterations. In these 22 revolutionary years, changes have taken place in almost all areas of Polish law (new Constitution, new Penal Code) and frequent changes are still taking place. Many of these changes were caused by Polish accession to the EU and others by creating a free market economy as well as strengthening human rights

b) About the contemporary situation in Poland

There are following main legal professions in Poland: judge, prosecutor, notary public, attorney at law (“adwokat”) and legal adviser- “radca prawny”. Attorneys and legal advisers have almost the same scope of legal activities to which they are entitled with the exception of defence in criminal proceedings which is restricted solely for attorneys at law. Since there are far fewer attorneys than legal advisers and since attorneys have a stricter code of professional conduct and far longer history (dating back to 1918) they are usually more respected and better recognized by the general public

Attorneys pay considerable fees for being part of the Bar (almost 100 USD per month!). In order to become attorney at law one has to finish 5 years of legal studies with an LL.M. title (Bachelor’s degree does not exist in Polish law unlike in other areas where it is achievable after 3 years of studies – in law one either gets Master’s after 5 years or does not successfully end studies) and later go through an apprenticeship which lasts 3 years (until recently it was 3.5 years) and for which one has to pay (as well as for entry exams, final exams and becoming a member of the Bar)

Attorneys at law cannot be employed by an employer. They can either have their own office or form a company/partnership with other attorneys or legal advisers. The situation when two legal professions have basically same rights and are a competition to each other is rather unique in Europe and creates come confusion. Therefore plans to merge attorneys and legal advisers into one Bar do exist, but it is currently impossible to foresee whether and when such a fusion could take place. Foreign attorneys may also practice in Poland, but they need to pass special exams

Polish court proceedings are characterized by two instances. Everyone who is not satisfied by the first instance verdict may appeal it to the upper instance (usually within a fortnight from the date when the verdict was issued). In some cases there is also a right to lodge a cassation with the Supreme Court in Warsaw (being then a sort of the third instance)

The proceedings in the first instance are dealt with by municipal courts or district courts (more important cases and when a large amount of money is concerned). The second instance is represented either by district court or by a court of appeal (when district court was handling the case in the first instance) which exist only in the largest cities and which employ the judges with a lot of experience. There are also separate administrative courts (including the second instance which is represented by the Supreme Administrative Court) and the Constitutional Tribunal which examines whether the laws in Poland and treaties signed by Poland are in line with the provisions of the Polish Constitution

One has to say that court proceedings in Poland are statistically rather lengthy due to the shape of the procedure and the fact that there are not enough judges nominated by the state. It is also quite expensive to fight in court, because the plaintiff has to pay to the court usually as much as 5% of the value of the subject of litigation (with the exception of some labor law cases and some alimony cases) in order for the proceedings to commence. This fee can be reclaimed from the defendant only when the plaintiff wins the case with the force of law. The same amount of money has to be paid to the court by the party which lodges an appeal. The party that wins the proceedings is also entitled to receive its attorney’s costs from the side that lost the proceedings

One interesting aspect of the Polish legal system is that there is no longer capital punishment in Poland. The last executions were carried out in the 1980s and then they were suspended. From late 1990s this penalty no longer exists although most of the society wants it to be reintroduced. The abolishment of the death penalty was forced upon Poland by the European Union and its human rights standards

Another aspect that might be interesting for Israelis is the parliamentary electoral system. The system is proportional, but the threshold is 5%, so unlike in Israel very small parties cannot be represented in the Polish Parliament’s Lower Chamber (there are some privileges for minorities and therefore the German minority is represented) and it enables creation of more stable  as well as stronger governments

Currently there are only 5 parties that could pass the electoral threshold – one right-wing party (which later split into two), two left-wing parties, one centrist party and one which represents the interests of peasants (a conservative one). The last parliamentary elections in Poland were held on October 9, 2011

c) For conclusion

Overall, Poland is a good and prospective country for investing. It should be emphasized that unlike most of the EU, Polish economy is growing and even growing quickly in western terms (around 4% p.a.). Poland is a stable democracy. It is also characterized by a low risk of terror attacks compared to countries such as Russia, U.K. or France

Above all Poland has got an important asset in form of a very well educated, skilled and trained labor force and the salaries are much lower than in Western Europe. Furthermore, the prices of goods and real estate are also cheap, esp. compared to Israel. One does not need to have a lot of capital to invest in Poland; great ideas and a vision are enough. Then Poland could be a convenient gate to all of the European Union


d) About the writer

I am a lawyer from Tri-City (Sopot, Gdańsk, Gdynia) in Poland. My late father was the former Chairman of the Jewish Community of Gdańsk. Part of my mother’s close family lives in Israel. I have spent altogether well over a year in Israel (especially in Karmei-Yosef) and I have learnt Hebrew in an Ulpan there. I am able to communicate in Hebrew quite eloquently. I have been working as a lawyer for over 7 years now, after I obtained Master’s degree from the University of Gdańsk

My main legal fields are family law (especially divorces and alimonies), inheritance law, real estate law, criminal law, civil law (also reclaiming Jewish property) and citizenship legal issues (especially reclaiming Polish citizenship by Israelis). Here is the link to my website (http://www.adwokatwroblewska.eu)

Tel.: +48 607-921-255, Email: adw.wroblewska@vp.pl

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