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The Warsaw Voice » Law » July 29, 2011
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Law in brief
July 29, 2011   
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Support Payments Easier to Collect
The lower house of parliament has passed a piece of legislation to amend the civil procedure under which support payments awarded in another EU member state will take less time to enforce in Poland.

Under the new system, foreign legal rulings awarding support payments to Polish citizens will no longer need to be confirmed by special proceedings before a Polish court.

Better enforcement of support payments in cross-border relations is required under new EU regulations that entered into force June 18.

The new procedures are meant to facilitate the application of the simplified rules. Poland reports low efficiency in enforcing support payments, estimated at a mere 13 percent, compared with around 75 percent in France.

The new changes also apply to the law on aid for persons entitled to receive support payments. Creditors abroad will now find it easier to approach public institutions in Poland for help in obtaining data on debtors, such as place of residence and income.

Substances Under Surveillance
Poland has introduced additional restrictions on trade in pesticides that contain active substances. The restrictions introduce requirements contained in over 40 EU directives on individual active substances used in pesticides.

The restrictions are contained in an amended ruling by the minister of agriculture and rural development. They set deadlines by which organizations authorized to put pesticides on the market have to submit test results, evaluation findings, material safety data sheets and other data concerning different active substances and pesticides.

Higher Grants for Water Management
The European Union has changed the rules under which local governments receive funds for projects designed to improve water management. The new rules make it clearer what criteria need to be met before funds are awarded for projects involving water retention, drainage prevention and watercourse restoration.

The new rules increase the amount of refunds available to local governments from 75 to 90 percent of project costs.

Efficient management of water resources is a priority for the EU and so projects designed to improve water management, especially in rural areas, are among those eligible for generous financial support.

Nationality Requirement Not Applicable to Notaries
EU member states may not ban foreigners from working as notaries, the European Court of Justice has ruled in response to cases opened by the European Commission against seven member states, Belgium, France, Luxembourg, Austria, Germany, Greece, and Portugal. According to the Commission, these countries infringed upon EU regulations by allowing only their own nationals to work as notaries.

In order to make a judgment, the European Court of Justice first needed to decide whether notaries exercised official authority, as the exercise of official authority is exempt from the principle of “freedom of establishment”—the right to work self-employed and to set up a company—provided for by the Treaty on the European Community.

According to the European Court of Justice, responsibilities handled by notaries are not a case of exercising official authority. Furthermore, unlike public authorities, notaries compete with one another and are directly and personally liable for any damage done to their clients.

The judgment of the European Court of Justice also applies to Poland because the European Commission has challenged Polish regulations on the nationality requirement for those appointed to work as notaries. The Commission plans to refer the case to the European Court of Justice.

Disabled Voters to Vote by Mail
Disabled voters will be able to send their ballots by post and use special Braille ballots, under a piece of legislation passed by the Sejm, the lower house of parliament.

Voters with serious or moderate disabilities—as defined in an official medical statement—will be able to ask municipal authorities to allow them to vote by mail. They will be provided with a special electoral package that will include a return envelope, a ballot card, an envelope for this card, instructions on how to vote and a statement to sign that they have voted in person and secretly.

The legislation enables blind and visually impaired voters to vote using Braille ballots with special overlays.

Under the new regulations, at least one third of the polling stations in each district will have to be adapted to the needs of disabled voters.
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