Law of Poland

We, the Polish Nation – all citizens of the Republic,

Both those who believe in God as the source of truth, justice, good and beauty, 

As well as those not sharing such faith but respecting those universal values as arising from other sources,

Equal in rights and obligations towards the common good – Poland

The Preambule of the Constitution of Poland (1997)

Polish law is an example of continental law, with historically strong influences from German, Austrian, French and to some extent Russian legal systems.

Poland recognised the continuity of legal systems after regaining independence in 1918 – and until the 1940s, three legal systems were in force on its territory: German, Austrian and Russian. In the 1940s, the codification of the most important legal acts was completed.

Despite the change of political systems (in 1944 and 1989), many laws are still in force from the period of the Second Republic and the Polish People’s Republic (PRL). A list of all contemporary laws, regulations and other sources of law can be found on the website of the Dziennik Ustaw (the official publisher of sources of law).

See the first issue of the Journal of Laws of 1918.

Polish Constitution (1997)

The Republic of Poland shall be a democratic state ruled by law and implementing the principles of social justice.

Article 2 of the Constitution of Poland

The most important legal act of the Republic of Poland is the Constitution.

It was passed on 2 April 1997 by the National Assembly and approved in a nationwide referendum on 25 May 1997. The Constitution of the Republic of Poland entered into force on 17 October 1997. It consists of a preamble and 13 chapters with 243 articles.

Polish text of the Constitution

English text of the Constitution

The Constitution is the supreme law (higher in the hierarchy of legal acts than international agreements and European Union law).

Everyone may invoke the Constitution directly, unless certain matters are regulated by statutes.

Pursuant to article 87 of the Constitution, only the legal acts mentioned therein constitute sources of universally binding law:

  • Constitution
  • laws / statute (ustawa)
  • ratified international agreements
  • regulations (rozporządzenie)
  • acts of local law.

The order of listing of particular legal acts in Article 87 of the Constitution determines their hierarchy in the system of law (with the modification introduced by Article 91 par. 2 of the Constitution, concerning international agreements ratified with the consent of the Sejm and Senate of the Republic of Poland).

Furthermore, Article 234 of the Constitution introduces into the system of sources of universally binding law in the Republic of Poland ordinances of the President of the Republic of Poland with the force of a statute, which under certain conditions may be issued by him during martial law. These regulations also belong to the category of sources of universally binding law, which is clearly stated in Article 234, paragraph 2 of the Constitution.

The catalogue of legal acts mentioned in Articles 87 and 234 of the Constitution is a closed catalogue, both objectively and subjectively.

The objective closure of this catalogue means that no other legal acts, apart from those enumerated in the Constitution, may be included among the sources of universally binding law in the legal system of the Republic of Poland.

Its subjective closure, on the other hand, means that the mentioned legal acts may be issued only by a closed catalogue of entities entitled to do so. These entities are the Sejm and Senate, the President of the Republic of Poland, the Council of Ministers, ministers or other bodies authorised to do so by the Constitution (cf. Article 92 par. 1 of the Constitution).

Laws / statutes (Ustawa)

In Poland, in the hierarchy of universally binding legal acts set out by the Constitution of the Republic of Poland, a statute (ustawa) has a rank lower (the so-called legal force) than the Constitution and international agreements ratified with prior consent expressed in a statute, equal to a decree of the President of the Republic with the force of a statute, and higher than ordinary regulations.

A statute may not be inconsistent with the Constitution.

Pursuant to the Constitution, a statute may also not be in conflict with an international agreement ratified by Poland, or a law enacted by an international organisation to which Poland has delegated “the competence of a state authority in certain matters“. (Article 90 Paragraph 1 of the Constitution).

Other normative acts (e.g. regulations) must be consistent with statutes.

In Poland, laws are passed by the Sejm usually by a simple majority of votes in the presence of at least half the constitutional number of deputies (i.e. 230), and then passed to the Senate, which within 30 days can either adopt them without change, pass amendments or reject them in their entirety.

Sejm (fot. Krzysztof Białoskórski, strona Sejmu)

If the Senate fails to pass a resolution to this effect within 30 days of the bill’s referral, the bill is deemed to have been passed in the wording adopted by the Sejm.

If the law is rejected by the Senate or amended by it, it returns to the Sejm, which may reject such a decision of the Senate by an absolute majority of votes in the presence of at least half the constitutional number of members.

The next step is for the Speaker of the Sejm (Marszałek Sejmu) to present the bill to the President of the Republic (Prezydent Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej) who signs it within 21 days and orders its publication in the Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw).

The President of the Republic has the power, at this stage, to refer the act to the Constitutional Tribunal (Trybunał Konstytucyjny) for examination.

The President of the Republic may request that the Sejm reconsider a bill – this is known as the President’s veto of a bill. The veto is not final, however, as the Sejm may override it by a 3/5 majority vote in the presence of at least half of its members, in which case the President must sign the bill into law within 7 days.

If the veto is not overridden, the bill falls and the procedure is over.

The President of the Republic does not have the right to veto a budget bill.

The President of the Republic must either sign it within 7 days of its presentation for signature or refer it to the Constitutional Tribunal.

Should the President of the Republic refer the budgetary act to the Constitutional Tribunal for examination of its compliance with the Constitution, the Constitutional Tribunal shall adjudicate no later than within two months of the submission of the request by the President of the Republic. It should be noted that the Constitution provides for yet another situation in which the Head of State does not have the right of veto. This refers to the act on amending the Constitution.

The initiative to enact a law is most often taken by the Council of Ministers (Rada Ministrów).

The legislative initiative may also be exercised by a group of at least 100,000 citizens having the right to elect members of the Sejm, a group of at least 15 deputies, a Sejm committee (regardless of its number), the Senate and the President of the Republic of Poland.

The legislative process is regulated by the Constitution and the Regulations of the Sejm and Senate.

Civil law

The most important source of civil law is the Civil Code (Kodeks cywilny, KC), an Act, which was enacted on 23 April 1964. The Civil Code came into force on 1 January 1965, with the exception of several articles that came into force earlier.

The Polish Civil Code consists of four books:

  • a general part (Articles 1-125) concerning, inter alia, persons and legal actions,
  • a book regulating property law (Articles 126-352)
  • a book regulating contract law (Articles 353 to 921(16))
  • the book regulating inheritance law (Articles 922-1088).

More than 50 regulations have been issued on the basis of the Civil Code.

More than 90 acts amending the Polish Civil Code have been issued so far. The first amendment took place in 1971. During the communist era the Civil Code was amended eight times.

An extensive revision took place in 1990 in connection with the political transformation in Poland. The transition from a centrally-controlled economy to a planned, concession-regulated economy brought about the need to make profound changes to the Civil Code, mainly in the area of property and contracts (e.g. the principle of freedom of contract, which is one of the foundations of a free market economy, was introduced to the Civil Code – Article 353(1) of the Civil Code).

The Marshall of the Sejm has published the consolidated text of the Code six times.

The Polish text of the Civil Code (1)
The Polish text of the Civil Code (2)

Commercial law

Commercial Companies Code (Kodeks spółek handlowych, KSH.) – Polish law of 15 September 2000. – Code of Commercial Companies containing provisions normalizing the system of commercial companies, which include:

  • general partnership (spółka jawna – Sp. j.)
  • partnership (spółka partnerska – Sp. p.)
  • limited partnership (spółka komandytowa – Sp. k.)
  • limited joint-stock partnerships (spółka komandytowo – akcyjna – Sp. k.a.)
  • limited liability company (spółka z ograniczoną odpowiedzialnością – Sp. z o.o.)
  • simple joint-stock company (prosta spółka akcyjna – p.s.a.)
  • joint-stock company (spółka akcyjna – s.a.)

However, this Code does not regulate other companies (which are not legal entities, but only civil law contracts) – civil companies (Spółka cywilna), whose operation is regulated by the Civil Code.

Unlike the previous Commercial Code of 1934, the current Commercial Companies Code does not contain the second essential part of commercial law – the provisions regulating commercial actions. They are now regulated almost entirely by the Civil Code.

The Polish text of the Code (KSH).

Administrative Law

The main source of administrative law is the Code of Administrative Procedure (Ustawa z dnia 14 czerwca 1960 r. – Kodeks postępowania administracyjnego, KPA) – a Polish legal act regulating the rules of conducting administrative proceedings, i.e.

  • the so-called jurisdictional administrative proceedings in individual cases decided by an administrative decision, which take place before public administration bodies and other state bodies and other entities appointed (by law or concluded agreements) to settle such cases or which are settled tacitly,
  • proceedings in cases of issuing certificates,
  • proceedings in cases concerning the settlement of disputes over competence between public administration bodies and between public administration bodies and other entities appointed to settle cases by way of an administrative decision
  • proceedings in cases of complaints and applications.
  • Since 1 June 2017, the Code also regulates:
  • imposing or imposing administrative fines or granting relief from their execution
  • the procedure of European administrative cooperation
  • As of 4 May 2019, the Code also normalizes the manner of execution of the obligation related to the processing of personal data in the proceedings regulated therein.

Jurisdictional administrative proceedings are not uniform in nature.

While the Code of Administrative Procedure regulates the so-called general proceedings, specific laws either introduce minor modifications to the procedure (e.g. Construction Law) or – create a completely separate model of proceedings (e.g. Tax Ordinance).

The Polish text of the Code (KPA).

A part of administrative law is Immigration law – regulated by the Aliens Act and the Employment Promotion and Labour Market Institutions Act.

Law of Bangladesh

Basic information

  • Constitution of Bangladesh

The Constitution of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh was adopted on 4 November 1972 and has been in force since 16 December 1972. Its draft was prepared by Kamal Hossain, the chairman of the constitutional committee of the then Constituent Assembly (the interim parliament of Bangladesh). The author of the draft constitution was 35 years old at the time (he was probably the youngest author of such an important piece of legislation in history).

The document provides a framework for the functioning of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh as a parliamentary republic (restored under the Twelfth Amendment of 1991 after the relevant provisions were removed in 1975), with guaranteed fundamental human rights and freedoms, an independent judiciary, democratic local government and national administration. The Constitution ensures fundamental human rights, including freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of movement, freedom of assembly, right to education and public health care, among others. Amending the constitution requires a two-thirds vote in parliament. It commits Bangladesh to “contribute to international peace and cooperation in accordance with the progressive aspirations of humanity”. The constitution contains some controversial provisions (Article 70, providing for the loss of the seat of an MP who votes contrary to the decision of the party to which he or she belongs).

The Constitution of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh has been amended seventeen times so far (latest amendment in 2018). As a result of numerous amendments, today’s nature of the Constitution of Bangladesh is very different from the original 1972 document.

The law of precedents is enshrined in the Constitution in Article 111, making Bangladesh an integral part of the common law world. The document also introduces rules on judicial review.

The Constitution in Article 65 guarantees 50 seats for women (out of 350 parliamentary seats) in the National Assembly.

History of constitutional law in Bangladesh [ENG].
Constitution of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh [ENG].

  • The Code of Bangladesh

The Code of Bangladesh was first published between 1977 and 1988 in 11 volumes and contained legislation from 1836 to 1938.

The current publication of the Bangladesh Code contains all the existing Acts of Parliament, Presidential Ordinances and Orders in force in Bangladesh (with the exception of Ordinances and Amendment Only Acts) – all published in 38 volumes and an index in chronological and alphabetical order published separately.

The Code now includes earlier codified laws that are updated and carried forward in Volumes 1 to 8 and partly in Volume 9, and codified laws from 1939 to 2006 in Volumes 9 to 38.

These documents include acts inherited from the past, starting from 1836, promulgated by various authorities in accordance with the constitution in force at the time. With the introduction of the Bangla Vasha Procholon Ain, 1987 (a law mandating that all documents should be published in the national language), all laws enacted in Bangla have been presented in volumes 27 to 38.

  • Laws enacted in English: volumes 1 to 26 (from 1836 to 1986)
  • Laws enacted in Bangla: volumes 27 to 38 (from 1987 to 2007)

Bangladesh Code [ENG].