Comparative law and justice/Poland

Part of the Comparative law and justice Wikiversity Project

Nlibucha 19:48, 9 February 2010 (UTC)

Basic Information



Climate: Poland is very cold and wet and has rough winters and mild summers [1]

Population: 38,482,919 with a 0.047% growth rate (2009) [2]

Ethnic Groups: Polish 96.7%, German 0.4%, Belarusian 0.1%, Ukrainian 0.1%, other and unspecified 2.7% (2002) [3]

Infant Mortality Rate: 6.8 deaths/1,000 live births [4]

Official Language: Polish 97.8%, other and 2.2% (2002 census) [5]

Religion: Roman Catholic 89.8%, Eastern Orthodox 1.3%, Protestant 0.3%, other 0.3%, unspecified 8.3% (2002) [6]

Sex Ratio: 0.94 male(s)/female (2009) [7]

Life Expectancy: 71.65 years for males and 79.85 years for females (2009) [8]

Brief History


The name Poland comes from the tribe Polanie who settled near Gniezno. In the 9th and 10th century Polanie united most other Slavic tribes living in the area. They established the state reigned by the Piast dynasty. The first prince of the Piast dynasty was Mieszko I. The son of Mieszko, Boleslaw Chrobry, was the first king of Poland. The first capital of Poland was Gniezno. In 1038 the capital was moved to Kraków, and a few centuries later - to Warsaw. In 1386 Queen Jadwiga married the grand duke of Lithuania, Władysław Jagiełło. This marriage initiated a union between Poland and Lithuania. The Jagiellonian Dynasty reigned Poland until 1572. The 16th century was called the 'golden age' of Poland. After the end of Jagiellonian Dynasty, the elective monarchy began. The internal rivarly caused the weakness of the state. The weakness of Poland enabled the first partition of the country by Russia, Prussia and Austria in 1772. These countries annexed nearly 30% of the territory of Poland. It caused the attempts to make reforms in Poland. For 123 years Poland disappeared from the map of Europe. During the 19th century the Polish people revolted. The most significant uprisings were in 1830-1831 and 1863-1864. Poland regained independence after the First World War, in November 1918, as the Second Polish Republic. But the peace did not last long. On September 1, 1939 Poland was invaded by Germany, and on September 17 - by Soviet troops. Polish resistance was crushed, and the country was partitioned again, and later - completely occupied by Germany. Many people died in extermination camps or were deported to Germany for forced labor. Polish people formed an underground resistance movement and a government in exile. During World War II over 6 million Polish people died, half of them were the Polish Jews. After the war Poland was under the influence of the Soviet Union. The time of communism began. In 1952 Poland was proclaimed a people's republic. The economic problems and the dissaticfaction from the communist rule caused big waves of strikes in 1970 and 1980. In 1980 was created an independent trade union Solidarity (Solidarność), which played a huge role in the fall of communism in Poland. In 1989 the Third Polish Republic was established. In 1999 Poland became part of NATO and in 2004 it joined the European Union. [9]

Economic Development, Health, and Education


An inefficient commercial court system, a rigid labor code, bureaucratic red tape, burdensome tax system, and persistent low-level corruption keep the private sector from performing up to its full potential. Rising demands to fund health care, education, and the state pension system present a challenge to the Polish Government's effort to hold the consolidated public sector budget deficit under 3.0% of GDP, a target which was achieved in 2007-09. The PO/PSL coalition government, which came to power in November 2007, plans to reduce the budget deficit in 2010 and has also announced its intention to enact business-friendly reforms, increase workforce participation, reduce public sector spending growth, lower taxes, and accelerate privatization. The government, however, has moved slowly on major reforms. The legislature passed a law significantly limiting early retirement benefits. A health-care bill also passed through the legislature, but the legislature failed to overturn a presidential veto.[10]

Virtually the entire Polish population is literate. For the year 2000, the adult illiteracy was estimated to be 0.2% (males, 0.2%; females 0.2%). Primary, secondary, and most university and other education is free. State and local expenditure on education is, therefore, substantial. Lower schools are financed by local budgets, higher and vocational schools from the state budget. In the latter half of the 1990s, approximately 24.8% of government expenditure was moved to education. As of 1999, public expenditure on education was estimated at 5.4% of GDP. The school system, which is centralized, consists of an eight-year primary school followed by a four-year secondary general education school, five-year technical school, or basic three-year vocational training school. In 1996, primary schools had a combined enrollment of 5,021,378 students and a staff of 325,601 teachers. Student-to-teacher ratio stood at 15 to 1. In the same year, secondary schools had 2,539,138 students and 121,301 teachers. As of 1999, 97% of primary-school-age children were enrolled in school, while 88% of those eligible attended secondary school. Vocational schools are attended by students studying technology, agriculture, forestry, economy, education, health services, and the arts. Institutions of higher learning had 75,432 teachers and enrolled 720,267 students in 1996.[11]

Health care is available in Poland but is not comparable to health care in the United States.



Poland is a republic. Independance was gained on November 11, 1918. Constitution was adopted by the National Assembly 2 April 1997; passed by national referendum 25 May 1997; effective 17 October 1997.[12]

President of Poland Lech Kaczynski, his wife and some of the country's most prominent military and civilian leaders died Saturday April 10, 2010 in a horrible plane crash. This was a crushing blow for Poland,

Read more:,8599,1981060,00.html#ixzz0mbg5RgoN



Poland is governed under the constitution of 1997. The president, who is the head of state, is popularly elected for a five-year term and is eligible for a second term. The prime minister, who is the head of government, is appointed by the president, as is the cabinet, with the approval of the Sejm. The bicameral National Assembly consists of a 460-seat Sejm (lower house) and a 100-seat Senate (upper house). Members of both bodies are elected for four-year terms. Poland is divided into 16 provinces.[13]

Judicial Review


There is a four-tiered court system in Poland: regional, provincial, appellate divisions, and a Supreme Court. The Supreme Court, the highest judicial organ, functions primarily as a court of appeal. The Supreme Court and lower courts are divided into criminal, civil, military, labor and family chambers. Judges are nominated by the National Judicial Council and are appointed by the president for life.[14]

Courts and Criminal Law




Polish prison conditions are ranked worse in Europe. Cells are overcrowded, there is chronic underfunding, there is a lack of work for prisoners and dismal sanitary conditions highlight the main problems of Poland's prison system. It is said that there are possibly around 58,000 convicted people who are still waiting for a free place in jails to begin serving their time. The death penalty has been abolished in Poland.


The Polish legal system is based on the continental legal system (civil law tradition). The common courts in Poland are the courts of appeal, provincial courts, and district courts. They are competent to hear criminal law cases, civil law cases, family and custody law cases, labour law cases and social insurance cases. The administrative judiciary belongs to the High Administrative Court. This court has judicial control of public administration and operates through 10 delegated centres of the same Court. The military courts are the military provincial courts and military unit courts. They have judiciary control within the Polish Army in criminal cases and other cases that were subscribed to them by relevant statutes.[15]

Law Enforcement


Polish police are known as Policja. The police force is split into different branches. The different branches are Criminal service, Traffic Police services, Prevention Service and Supporting Service. Smaller towns and villages also sometimes have there own City guard. City guard however only has jurisdiction over small crimes and misdemeanors.

Crime Rates and Public Opinion


While Poland generally has a low rate of violent crime, the incidence of street crime, which sometimes involves violence, is moderate. Major cities have higher rates of crime against residents and foreign visitors than other areas. Organized groups of thieves hang around major tourist locations and on trains and buses in major cities. Car theft is also a moderate problem in Poland although it has declined in recent years. U.S. citizen tourists of Asian and African descent have also reported being targets of verbal harassment and physical attacks while traveling in Poland which indicates some discrimination towards these groups among polish citizens.[16]



Family Law


Polish divorce law is regulated by the statute of February 25, 1964: The Polish Family and Guardianship Code, which came into force on January 1, 1965. The statute is divided into three parts, the first of which concerns matrimonial matters of marriage. There is some relationship between the institutions of divorce and separation. The latter was introduced into the Polish system of family law in 1999. The regulation of separation shows certain similarities to that of divorce. Separation is decided by the court when there is a complete (but not irretrievable) disintegration of matrimonial life. The judicial decree of separation has the same effects as a divorce, unless otherwise provided by statute. The most significant difference is that a separated person is not allowed to remarry. The introduction of separation, however, has not led to any changes in the provisions regulating divorce. Thus, the latter provisions do not treat separation as a cause of divorce nor as a condition therefor. On the other hand, the provisions on separation do not say anything about the possibility of a subsequent divorce, although such a possibility is generally considered to exist. It seems correct to conclude that separation in Polish law is to be an instrument to ensure the durability of marriage through preventing rash divorces, rather than an institution which is a substitute for divorce. In the legal literature there are those who are in favor of granting a divorce simply on an unanimous motion by the spouses.[17]

Human Rights


During the Universal Periodic Review in April, members of the Human Rights Council urged the Polish authorities to introduce comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation. The government declared that a new Act on Equal Treatment was expected to be adopted by the parliament in November. The draft Act addresses discrimination based on gender, race, ethnic origin, nationality, religion, political views, disability, age, sexual orientation, and marital and family status. Nevertheless, it only prohibits discrimination based on gender, race and ethnic origin when it comes to access to services, social welfare, health care and education. It does not ensure protection from multiple discrimination or discrimination through association.[18]

Denial of access to abortion for eligible women was raised during Poland’s Universal Periodic Review by the UN Human Rights Council in May. This remained a concern despite a ruling in 2007 by the European Court of Human Rights that the government has the duty to establish effective mechanisms for ensuring that women have access to abortion where it is legal.[19]

Works Cited

  1. Central Intelligence Agency. 2009. The World Factbook, "Country Comparison: Geography." Website accessed 2/16/2010,
  2. Central Intelligence Agency. 2009. The World Factbook, "Country Comparison: People." Website accessed 2/16/2010,
  3. Central Intelligence Agency. 2009. The World Factbook, "Country Comparison: People." Website accessed 2/16/2010,
  4. Central Intelligence Agency. 2009. The World Factbook, "Country Comparison: People." Website accessed 2/16/2010,
  5. Central Intelligence Agency. 2009. The World Factbook, "Country Comparison: People." Website accessed 2/16/2010,
  6. Central Intelligence Agency. 2009. The World Factbook, "Country Comparison: People." Website accessed 2/16/2010,
  7. Central Intelligence Agency. 2009. The World Factbook, "Country Comparison: People." Website accessed 2/16/2010,
  8. Central Intelligence Agency. 2009. The World Factbook, "Country Comparison: People." Website accessed 2/16/2010,
  9. The 17th International Olympiad in Informatics. 2005. History, Website accessed 4/29/2010,
  10. Central Intelligence Agency. 2009. The World Factbook, "Country Comparison: Economy." Website accessed 4/29/2010,
  11. Encyclopedia of the Nations. 2010. "Poland - Education." Website accessed 4/29/2010,
  12. Central Intelligence Agency. 2009. The World Factbook, "Country Comparison: Government." Website accessed 2/16/2010,
  13. InfoPlease. 2005. World and News, "Government." Website accessed 4/29/2010,
  14. Encyclopedia of the Nations. 2010. "Poland - Judicial System." Website accessed 4/29/2010,
  15. Piotr Rakowski, Robert Rybicki. 2000. "Features - An Overview of Polish Law." Website accessed 4/29/2010,
  16. US Department of State. 2009. Poland: Country Specific Information "Crime." Website accessed 4/29/2010,
  17. Andrzej Maczynski, Tomasz Sokolowski. 2010. "International Family Law." Website accessed 4/29/2010,
  18. Amnesty International. 2009. "Human Rights in Republic of Poland." Website accessed 4/29/2010,
  19. Amnesty International. 2009. "Human Rights in Republic of Poland." Website accessed 4/29/2010,