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The Warsaw Voice » Law » June 11, 2008
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June 11, 2008   
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Busy Year for Constitutional Tribunal
Poland's Constitutional Tribunal examined a total of 142 complaints from both individuals and institutions last year, the tribunal's president, Jerzy Stępień, told the lower house of parliament in late May. The tribunal issued 73 judgments and decided to discontinue proceedings in 69 cases, Stępień said. Each case took 14 months to examine on average, six months longer than in 2006. The most complaints, 26, were lodged by Commissioner for Civil Rights Janusz Kochanowski, while various Sejm deputies filed 22 complaints between them.

Easier Path to Road Permits
The government has drafted an amendment to make it easier for investors to prepare and carry out public road-building projects. At the moment, investors need to obtain two official permits before they can begin to build a road. The government wants these two permits to be replaced with a single, consolidated permit. The new permit would be issued by county administrators and province governors, depending on the status of the road, within three months of the application being submitted. If the road passes through two or more provinces, the decision will be made by the governor of the province with the longest stretch of the road.

'Metropolitan' Law Planned
Seven urban areas in Poland-the cities of Warsaw, ŁódĽ, Cracow, Poznań, and Wrocław; the Silesia conurbation; and the Gdańsk-Sopot-Gdynia Tricity area-will be officially designated as metropolitan areas if parliament approves a bill being drafted by Michał Kulesza, the government's representative for public administration reform. The bill aims to assure better management for large cities and conurbations. If it becomes law, the bill will help solve transportation problems in newly built residential quarters in suburban areas, the government says. The law will also improve strategic planning and environmental protection.

Only cities and conurbations with a population of over 1 million are eligible for metropolitan area status.

Islamic Law Around the World
Islamic law is a frequent subject of public debate because of its strong ties to religion and current affairs. The letter of the Islamic law and its application are highly controversial, hence the wide interest in how Islamic personal and family law (sharia) impacts the legal systems in countries with strong or dominant Muslim communities. Comprehensive information on the subject, in English, is available on the website www.law.emory.edu/ifl, which is the outcome of a research project conducted by Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, in the United States, and sponsored by the Ford Foundation.

End of Conscription
Conscription will be scrapped and the Polish armed forces will become fully professional under a series of bills to go before parliament. The government June 3 approved a bill intended to amend a law on compulsory military service-the first in a package of eight bills designed to enable a transition from conscription to voluntary recruitment. The proposed changes raise the age limit for enrollment from 25 to 30 years and ease the requirements with regard to education. Under the amendment, a junior-high-school education would be enough to sign up with the army.

The bill also introduces wider opportunities for college students and graduates wanting to do voluntary military service.

New Rules for Aliens Drafted
The government has drafted an amendment to the Aliens Act to facilitate cross-border travel. The amendment concerns citizens of non-European Union countries that neighbor Poland. They would be able to enter a Polish border area without visas with a special permit-but only if their country has signed an agreement with Poland on cross-border traffic.

In a related proposal, the government plans to amend a law on the Border Guard in order to authorize the service to check if foreigners working in Poland are doing so legally.

Inheritors Will Not Need to Notify Taxman
Inheritances from close relatives will be automatically exempted from inheritance and donation tax and the tax authorities will no longer have to be notified. The "Friendly State" special parliamentary commission has prepared a draft amendment to the 1983 law on inheritance and donation tax. Since Jan. 1, 2007, inheritances and donations transferred between close relatives have been completely exempted from tax on condition the tax authorities are notified of the transfer within a month. Many people who were unaware of the deadline have ended up owing money to the taxman.

Inspections by Border Guards
The National Labor Inspectorate and border guards will join forces to fight illegal employment. Chief labor inspector Bożena Borys-Szopa and border guard commander-in-chief Leszek Elas have signed an agreement to exchange experience and information on illegal employment of foreigners. The agreement covers joint inspections, training and information campaigns. Data from the National Labor Inspectorate shows that regulations on legal employment are most frequently breached in sectors such as manufacturing, trade, hotels and construction. Most illegal workers come from Russia, Ukraine and Belarus, but there have been more cases involving citizens of Asian countries, including Vietnam and South Korea.

The National Labor Inspectorate expects a surge in the number of foreigners taking illegal jobs in conjunction with projects carried out in preparation for the Euro 2012 European soccer championships.
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