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The Warsaw Voice » Law » April 8, 2009
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LAW IN BRIEF
April 8, 2009 By L.¯.    
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Polish Judge in Luxembourg
Polish law professor Marek Safjan has become a judge of the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg, under an agreement struck by the governments of European Union countries.

Safjan has worked at the Law Department of the University of Warsaw, specializing in civil law since 1972. He was chairman of the Polish Constitutional Tribunal for eight years beginning 1998.

His legal interests focus on civil law, medical law, constitutional law, and European law.

The European Court of Justice rules on the legality of laws and regulations adopted by EU authorities and their compliance with EU treaties. It also provides legally binding interpretations of EU regulations and deals with disputes between member states as well as disputes between member states and the European Commission.


Bank Secrecy Rules Relaxed
Switzerland, Austria and Luxembourg have promised to relax their bank secrecy regulations, bending to pressure from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

The decision comes in the wake of a similar move by Andorra and Liechtenstein.

Switzerland, Austria and Luxembourg are expected to adapt their legal systems to international regulations aimed at preventing tax evasion. The three countries announced their decision after recent talks between their finance ministers and the OECD. The organization plans to adopt new rules for sharing financial and tax information, and it also wants to blacklist countries that do not comply with these rules. Switzerland, Austria and Luxembourg have pledged to share information on bank account holders, but only those who are suspected of tax evasion and financial scams.


Campaign Against Pay Discrimination
The European Commission has launched a campaign to combat pay discrimination against women across the European Union. Women's wages are 17.4 percent lower than men's wages in the bloc on average, with the greatest inequalities reported in sectors such as manufacturing, business services and financial services.


Poland to Face Court Over Diapers
Poland will face the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg for applying a reduced value-added tax rate on baby diapers in violation of European Union law.

Poland will be brought before the ECJ together with four other countries, Portugal, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Malta. Poland set a reduced VAT rate of 7 percent, instead of 22 percent, despite the lack of consent from Brussels after it joined the EU May 1, 2004. The European Commission launched legal action against the five states in 2006. Two years later, the procedure was suspended, and the Commission asked the Council of the European Union to allow the five countries to continue using the reduced rates. But EU finance ministers rejected the request March 10.


Labor Law Online
The website of the International Labor Organization (ILO) contains a database of labor regulations in 190 countries (www. ilo.org/dyn/natlex). It also provides information on these countries' labor law.

Legal information on the website is available in English, French and Spanish. The site provides the names of individual regulations and their subject matter. It also provides excerpts and, in some cases, the whole text of the regulations. There are also links to many national websites.


Foreign Currency Accounting Permitted
Polish companies are now free to keep their books in foreign currencies instead of just zlotys, after a new law took effect, amending foreign exchange regulations and changing the civil code. The law abolished an obligation to convert all financial operations into the Polish currency.

According to the economy ministry, the amendment will make life easier for businesses, especially those that import and export goods and services. These companies will no longer have to convert foreign currencies into Polish zlotys and they will have less work entering financial operations in the books, for example. So far, every operation of this kind required separate permission from the central bank governor.
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