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The Warsaw Voice » Law » January 13, 2010
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Law in brief
January 13, 2010   
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Legal Journals Go Online
After a few years of planning and preparation, two of Poland's key legal journals, the Dziennik Ustaw journal of laws and the Monitor Polski official government gazette, are now available online.

The government launched the online versions of the journals under a recent amendment on the publication of regulations that took effect Jan. 1.

The two journals contain the laws and ordinances that are in force in Poland. They can now be accessed for free on the government website www.rcl.gov.pl. Experts say the website makes life easier for lawyers.

Law Firms Join Forces
Two international law firms, U.S.-based Hogan & Hartson and British-based Lovells, have decided to merge to form a new law firm called Hogan Lovells from May 1.

After the merger, Hogan Lovells will have a total of 2,500 lawyers in 40 offices in the United States, Europe, Central Asia and Latin America.

According to David Harris, managing partner at Lovells, the new law firm will be unique in terms of its global capabilities and the potential to settle disputes and deal with regulatory, antimonopoly, financial and economic issues as well as those related to intellectual property and real estate.

The two law firms report a combined annual revenue of $1.8 billion. Both have offices in Warsaw.

Employers Exploit Foreigners: Report
The Polish Labor Inspectorate (PIP) discovered twice as many cases of illegal employment of foreigners between the start of 2009 and the end of October 2009 than in the same period of 2008. Illegal employment involved workers from 32 countries, more than half of them from Ukraine, Russia and Belarus, officials said.

The Labor Inspectorate said it conducted more than 1,400 inspections into the employment of foreign workers and found irregularities in 40 percent of the cases. Illegal employment of foreigners was most widespread in construction, services, manufacturing and agriculture, officials said. Small businesses with up to nine workers were the most notorious offenders.

According to the Labor Inspectorate, many employers exploited their foreign workers by failing to offer them the minimum work and pay conditions required under Polish law. The average fine imposed on employers violating regulations on the employment of aliens was zl.1,500, officials said.

New ID Cards Next Year
New smart identity cards will be introduced in Poland next year, under a proposal recently approved by the government.

The new documents will be issued for Polish nationals aged over 13. Unlike current ID cards, they will contain no details of the holder's appearance or information about his or her place of residence.

The new identity documents will confirm the holder's eligibility for various public services, including medical services provided by the National Health Fund. Citizens will be able to replace their old IDs with new ones for free.

Report on Tax Info Line
The finance ministry has evaluated the operation of the National Tax Information Service (KIP), which has operated an infoline since July 2006 out of four offices in Bielsko-Biała, Leszno, Płock and Toruń. Over this period, KIP provided more than 2.1 million answers to phone inquiries, according to the ministry's report. The largest number of answers, over 1.1 million, was to questions about the personal income tax (PIT) and annual tax returns. Value added tax (VAT) and corporate income tax (CIT) came second and third in terms of the number of answers, 875,023 and 196,546 respectively.

Customs Union in the East
Kazakhstan, Russia and Belarus will form a customs union with a common external tariff as of January, following a recent agreement between the presidents of the three countries. In practice, the union will become effective in June and subsequently evolve into a common economic area by the end of 2012.

"Our joint oil reserves total 90 billion barrels, which means we are becoming a key player on the global energy resources market," said Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev. "We are also able to compete for leadership on the grain market. Today, our three countries account for a combined 17 percent of global wheat exports."

In addition to introducing uniform customs tariffs for exports and imports, Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan will remove customs duties and other barriers to a free trade of goods among the three countries, except for anti-dumping duties. Experts at the Economic Forecasting Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences say the customs union will make it possible for Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan to save around $400 billion by 2015.

PwC Forms Legal Arm in Poland
International tax and business consulting services firm PricewaterhouseCoopers has formed a legal arm in Poland. Called PwC Legal, the division started operations Nov. 2, 2009. It specializes in lawsuits, company law, mergers and acquisitions, competition and consumer protection, labor law, intellectual property law, and financial law. Ewa Szurmińska-Jaworska, a legal adviser with many years of experience in procedural law, is head of the legal arm.

PwC Legal supplements the services of experts working for other PwC divisions, which provide financial audits, tax advice and business consulting.

Polluters to Come Clean
A new international treaty that requires industries to report the amount of certain pollutants they emit into the air took effect Oct. 8, 2009. Officially called the Protocol on Pollutant Release and Transfer Registers, the treaty came into force after being ratified by 20 European countries, the UN Economic Commission for Europe has announced in Geneva.
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