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The Warsaw Voice » Law » December 30, 2010
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Law in brief
December 30, 2010   
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Free Legal Advice
Around 13,000 people received free legal advice Nov. 6 as part of an annual campaign sponsored by the Polish Bar Association (NRA), a professional association of lawyers.

A total of 1,052 lawyers and legal trainees took part in this year’s campaign, which was held in 194 cities. People sought advice especially on inheritance issues, but were also interested in issues concerning family law, labor law, social insurance and housing.

“Our campaign, held for the fourth time, enjoyed great popularity, which proves that people need it,” said Andrzej Michałowski, acting president of the Polish Bar Association. “I am happy that many legal trainees also took part in the campaign, alongside lawyers.”

Church-Property Commission to Be Dissolved
A commission overseeing the restitution of property taken away from the Catholic Church by Poland’s former communist authorities will be dissolved as of Jan. 1 after 20 years of work. Claims not resolved by the commission will be taken over by courts, under a new piece of legislation designed to regulate relations between the state and the Church. The legislation has been approved by the Interior Ministry and senior church officials.

The 12-member commission—with six members appointed by the ministry and the other six by the Roman Catholic Church—has examined a total of 2,800 claims and has given the Church 490 properties with a total area of around 60,000 hectares and zl.107.5 million in compensation. Another 220 claims are still waiting to be examined.

Local governments have criticized the commission, arguing that it has provided the Church with valuable commercial land at understated prices. They have also complained that it is not possible to appeal against the commission’s decisions.

In September, a commission member representing the Church—identified as Marek P.—was arrested on charges of corrupting other members of the commission.

Customs Officers to Sign for Guns
Under new regulations issued by the finance minister that took effect Nov. 13, customs officers are required to sign for weapons, money, securities, equipment and other property trusted to them to enable them to perform their official duties. Customs officers have to return the property they have received or account for it by a deadline set by their supervisor.

VAT on Children’s Clothes to Be Raised?
The European Court of Justice Oct. 28 ruled that Poland had been unlawfully applying a reduced 7-percent VAT rate on children’s footwear and clothing. The court rejected the argument that the lower VAT rate was designed to stimulate population and economic growth. The case against Poland had been brought to the court by the European Commission, which argued that a reduced rate may only be applied to strictly specified goods and services, while children’s footwear and clothing were not on the list.

Schengen Procedures to Become Simpler
All parliamentary groups in Poland’s parliament supported in late October a proposal for changes to the law on foreigners, which regulates issues concerning visa extensions and consultation procedures between countries in cases when entry is refused. The proposed regulations would make procedures involved in applying for a Schengen visa simpler.

Journal of Laws Goes Online
The last print editions of the Dziennik Ustaw journal of laws will come out in December next year. From 2012 the journal will only be published on the internet, under a new proposal approved by the government Oct. 26. Other official journals—Monitor Polski, journals issued by individual ministries and central and provincial institutions—will also be exclusively published on the internet and be available free of charge. A limited number of copies of Dziennik Ustaw and Monitor Polski would be printed for the needs of the Polish president, the National Library, and the Archives of New Records in Warsaw.

End of conscription
Only volunteers will be recruited for active military service in 2011, under a new piece of legislation drafted by the Defense Ministry.

Army duty will be performed in the form of rotating military exercises. Up to 20,000 soldiers who have signed contracts to serve as the army reserve and 6,000 volunteers will be trained. The program is expected to cost zl.280 million.

Schools to Offer Therapy to Students
From September next year, school and kindergarten teachers will be required to prepare individual curricula for specially gifted children and teenagers, under a set of new proposals drafted by the Education Ministry. Schools will also be required to prepare education and therapy programs for disabled or emotionally disturbed students. All students will have access to psychological and educational assistance. Schools and kindergartens will also organize special workshops, training courses and meetings for children, teenagers and their parents.

Changes to Warranty Regulations
The government has adopted draft guidelines for amendments to the law on special terms of consumer sales proposed by the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection. The point is to make every seller responsible for issuing a warranty document to the buyer even if the seller is not the warrantor, but only acts as an intermediary between the warrantor (manufacturer) and the consumer. The amended law will include a provision that warranty documents may be issued in writing on paper or other durable medium available to the consumer.
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