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The Warsaw Voice » Law » January 21, 2009
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January 21, 2009   
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Tighter Rules Against Money Laundering
Companies will be required to register customers entering into cash transactions involving over 15,000 euros under draft amendments to the 2000 law on counteracting money laundering and financing terrorism. The draft, drawn up to comply with an EU directive, was adopted by the government Jan. 12. The new regulations are designed to increase transparency and make it more difficult to launder money and finance terrorism. The draft proposes that the list of institutions and individuals required to register specific transactions and notify the chief inspector for financial information of them be expanded to include all financial and lending institutions, companies and individuals providing bookkeeping services and associations engaged in trade and commerce. The current list includes banks, brokerage houses, lawyers and notaries.

Airline Complaints Take Off
The Civil Aviation Office (ULC) received over 1,500 complaints against airlines last year, 330 more than in 2007. Of these, 816 concerned cancellations. This compares with 534 for 2007. Flight delays drew 142 complaints and being prevented from boarding 78. The Civil Aviation Office can impose fines ranging from zl.200 to zl.4,800 for violating the rights of passengers.

Roadworthiness Tests Abolished
Vehicles brought into Poland from abroad will no longer be subjected to roadworthiness testing before being registered here with the abolishment by parliament of this requirement so as to comply with a June 5, 2008 European Court of Justice decision. The court had ruled that Poland was in breach of EU legislation. Poland will recognize roadworthiness tests performed elsewhere in the EU. The law applies to passenger cars not older than three years and other vehicles not older than one year.

VAT-Free Legal Advice
The Polish Bar Council and non-governmental organizations would like to see more people gain access to free legal advice by having it exempted from VAT. A draft law to this effect has been submitted to the lower house of parliament where it will be scrutinized by the "Friendly State" Committee, a parliamentary committee charged with cutting red tape. The proposed regulations are in line with EU legislation, which provides that free services may be exempted from VAT so long as this does not restrict competition.

Quick Compensation for Medical Mistakes
The health ministry wants legislative changes to make it easier for people to claim compensation for medical errors without having to resort to legal action. The new provisions, to be included in a new law on the rights of patients, may be similar to those in Sweden and France. Compensation in those countries is paid as a matter of course in cases such as misdiagnoses or hospital infections. The Polish Chamber of Physicians and Dentists and the Institute of Patients' Rights submitted proposals to this effect Jan. 8. The Health Ministry, however, would first like to introduce provisions to save patients from having to initiate legal action.

Higher Bank Guarantees in EU
Under an amended directive passed by the European Parliament Dec. 1, maximum guarantees on bank deposits will rise to 50,000 euros from 20,000 euros today. The amendment is meant to restore public trust in financial institutions affected by the recent crisis. Under the new rules, bank clients will be able to recover their savings within 20 days after the bank formally declares its bankruptcy. Today the period is between three and nine months. Troubled banks will have five days to declare themselves bankrupt. Guarantees to the tune of 50,000 euros will become effective halfway through this year, and then the limit will be increased further to 100,000 euros in 2011.

EU Subsidy Rules Relaxed
New EU financing rules for large investment projects will come into force in February. The European Commission has proposed paying subsidies for large projects before formally approving them. This is part of a Brussels anti-crisis plan and is intended to inject EU funds into the economy more quickly and stimulate spending on capital goods. "We expect everything to be agreed on in the parliament and the Council of Europe in January. That means we will be able to provide assistance to projects before their official approval starting in February," says Danuta Hübner, EU commissioner for regional policy. The projects in question are mainly transport projects worth more than 50 million euros and environmental projects worth more than 25 million euros.
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