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The Warsaw Voice » Law » October 29, 2010
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Law in brief
October 29, 2010   
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Polish Partners for Garrigues
Spanish law firm Garrigues, a leading law firm in Europe, has hired two accomplished lawyers, Filip Urbaniak and Piotr Sitarski, as partners in its Warsaw office. This is a clear message that Garrigues is building a strong group of experts in Poland, the firm’s executives said.

Garrigues also plans to step up its business in M&A transactions and the private equity and capital markets.

“The appointment of the two Polish lawyers as partners is a key part of our strategy aimed at expanding our Warsaw office,” said Carlos Rapallo, a partner at Garrigues. “The decision underscores the significance of the office as the one responsible for the firm’s development in Central and Eastern Europe.”

Garrigues is the largest law firm in continental Europe in terms of revenue and the number of lawyers. The firm provides a comprehensive range of legal services. Most of its offices are located in Spain, but it also has branches in London, New York City, Miami, Brussels, Lisbon, Porto, Warsaw, Bucharest, Casablanca, Tanger, Shanghai and Rio de Janeiro.

Prison Terms for Destroying Nature
The government has adopted guidelines for draft amendments to the penal code and some other laws to allow for punishment of those who create a threat to the life or damage the health of even a single person through significant air, soil or water pollution. The crime would carry a prison term of three months to five years. Current law requires the pollution to affect a large group of people, animals or plants, which in practice makes it impossible to impose a penalty.

If a crime against the natural environment results in serious damage to a person’s health, the perpetrator will face a prison term of up to 10 years.

The amendments are needed to bring Polish legislation into line with EU law.

Pharmacists Required to Know Polish
Foreign pharmacists are to be required to pass a Polish language test to be allowed to practice their profession in Poland, under a draft order of the health minister.

Language tests for foreign pharmacists are to be conducted by the Polish Pharmaceutical Chamber. They will be composed of two oral and two written parts. If passed, the test will document that the foreigner can use specialist literature, and communicate in Polish with patients and other medical professionals.

Higher Budget for the Judiciary
The 2011 budget for the judiciary is to be zl.8.889 billion, slightly more than the zl.8.662 billion in 2010. Spending on courts of general jurisdiction and military courts is to rise by 4.7 percent—from zl.5.7 billion this year to slightly over zl.6 billion. The government wants to spend nearly zl.1.068 billion on salaries for prosecutors and almost zl.1.459 billion on salaries for judges.

Direct Payments for Farmers Will Not Be Equalized
The European Commission will not propose a single flat rate of direct payment per hectare across the European Union as Poland demanded. The draft plan to reform the Common Agricultural Policy after 2013, which the Commission is to adopt on Nov. 17, says that the distribution of assistance should be just, but not necessarily equal. The Commission believes there is no justification, either economic or environmental, for farmers to receive equal payments—for example 200 euros per hectare—across the EU because the amount means something different in Latvia than in France. The countries have different labor costs or costs of ensuring environmental protection standards. The proposal to introduce equal payments has also been strongly opposed by Germany and France.

New Register for Shipping Firms
The European Commission adopted Sept. 13 new regulations designed to improve the safety performance of ships. A new online register of shipping firms that have performed poorly in safety inspections—port state controls—is to be established Jan. 1, 2011. Conversely, companies with strong safety records will be publicly praised. Port state controls are crucial for preventing shipping disasters and the loss of life and environmental damage that can result.

Better Legal Protection for Mothers
The European Commission wants to raise standards of legal protection for young mothers. The Commission has drafted a directive on maternity leaves, under which women working under contract for a specific task or contracts of mandate would be entitled to maternity leave and benefits. Their employment rights would be protected during pregnancy and after childbirth.

European Commission Wants to Punish Overspending Member States
The European Commission has proposed regulations that would give it more control over the public finances of EU member states. They include new rights to punish countries for overspending, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said. The purpose is to avoid another crisis like that in Greece. The proposals have to be approved by the governments of member states and the European Council.

EU Report on Online Shopping
Most online stores selling consumer electronics abide by consumer rights regulations, according to the European Commission’s report which includes findings of its checks on online stores in the European Union, Iceland and Norway. Eighty four percent of the websites already meet the requirements of EU law. Many irregularities that were discovered last year have been removed, like for example listing incorrect prices without including additional costs, incorrect information about the client’s rights or failure to provide the seller’s contact data.

Online stores selling tickets for cultural or sporting events have not come out as well in the report; only 40 percent of them meet the requirements of EU law. The most frequent problem is that they provide incomplete or incorrect information on hidden taxes or fees.
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