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Adam Bodnar Outlines Priorities for Polish Businesses and Public Trust in Judiciary

LAWAdam Bodnar Outlines Priorities for Polish Businesses and Public Trust in Judiciary

“The essential issue from my perspective is the reform of the judiciary, because without it there will be no positive climate for investment, including foreign investment. And the second issue is regaining public trust in the prosecutor’s office,” says Minister of Justice, Attorney General and former Ombudsman, Prof. Adam Bodnar. He made these remarks this past weekend when he received a special prize from the Business Centre Club in recognition of his efforts in upholding the rule of law and ensuring legal stability. In Poland, this latter element is often cited as a barrier to doing business. Entrepreneurs identify, among other issues, frequent changes in regulations without consultations with interested industries, as well as short notice periods for implementing new laws.

“We must ensure that in Poland we never have any doubts that judgments are made by courts with the correct composition, by judges who have a full mandate to rule. Secondly, we need to fix and re-establish the Constitutional Tribunal for all of us. And thirdly, we must also ensure that courts operate efficiently and quickly. So, we need to focus not only on institutional guarantees of judicial independence but also on their fast, effective, good, predictable, and responsible operations,” Prof. Adam Bodnar tells Newseria Biznes agency.

He points out that legal stability is key for the business community, and improving relations with entrepreneurs is one of the priorities of the new government and the Ministry of Justice.

“Entrepreneurs are absolutely fundamental for our functioning. I think we need to restore a level of trust and regular, normal, daily stability in these relationships. Entrepreneurs should be partners in the social consultations of any legislative projects, and we should create conditions for business to develop in Poland”, emphasizes the Minister of Justice.

The lack of stability and quality in the laws created in Poland has long been one of the biggest concerns for Polish entrepreneurs and foreign investors. According to a report by Grant Thornton (“Law Barometer”), a major problem is the fact that the vacatio legis period, or the time allowed for businesses to prepare for changes, is gradually shortened. Currently, the average economic law takes effect just 31 days after publication, and a regulation after just seven days. There is also a worrying trend where amendments of significant importance are added during parliamentary work. These changes are not subjected to public consultations and regulatory impact assessments. A full 42% of government laws enacted in 2022 did not have documented public consultations, and only in 15% of cases did the government respond to submitted comments. All of this, coupled with the unpredictability of state action, reduces the level of legal security for businesses, which in turn affects the dynamics of the Polish economy’s development.

“What is important from my perspective is the reform of the judiciary, because without it there will be no positive climate for investments, including foreign investments. And the second thing I care about a lot is regaining public trust in the prosecutor’s office. The prosecutor’s office is a very important institution in the functioning of the state. However, it must deal with prosecuting crimes and uphold the rule of law. It should not be a politicised body fulfilling political assignments or instrumentally using the law. And unfortunately, there have been cases where the prosecutor’s office has used this law to persecute entrepreneurs,” says Prof. Adam Bodnar.

Significant organizational and personnel changes are currently taking place in the prosecutor’s office initiated by the new management of the Ministry of Justice. The new minister and the Attorney General, based on legal analysis, have determined that Dariusz Barski was wrongfully reinstated to civil service in 2022, which allowed him to take up the position of national prosecutor at that time. Jacek Bilewicz has now become the acting national prosecutor. This week, four further district prosecutors and six regional prosecutors were also dismissed. The Ministry’s statement pointed to a “consistent program of changes within the prosecutor’s office, aimed at returning the service to the citizens.”

“In every area – whether it is the enforcement of claims, the resumption of courts, the functioning of the prosecutor’s office, the operation of the Justice Fund or international cooperation – we will try to serve the citizens. Entrepreneurs are important to us as partners in dialogue and in pointing out those solutions that need to be implemented in Poland to repair our legal system. We must look at the court registers – from an entrepreneur’s point of view, it is very important that these registers work quickly, efficiently and in such a way that entrepreneurs can quickly record their various claims in these registers. This is one of the small things, but fundamental from the point of view of everyday business,” says the Minister of Justice.

Over the past weekend, Prof. Adam Bodnar received a special award in the Polish Business Leader competition organised by the Business Centre Club. He was recognized for his previous efforts as Ombudsman in upholding the rule of law and legal stability, conditions necessary for the proper functioning and development of Polish entrepreneurship, and for his significant contribution in respecting civil rights and successfully building a civil society in Poland.

“This award is a recognition of the entire generation of lawyers, male and female, who have been fighting in recent years to restore the rule of law; I was just one of these people. We had many fantastic lawyers working in the Office of the Ombudsman, who supported me in this endeavour. We should also appreciate various non-governmental organizations. So, this award is indeed a token of gratitude for all the work we have tried to do. We want to convince society why this is important from the point of view of a democratic state’s functioning. For me, this award is also a credit of trust from entrepreneurs regarding what should be done in Poland and how to fix the justice system,” says Prof. Adam Bodnar.

In addition to Adam Bodnar, the Business Center Club also awarded a special prize to the US Ambassador to Poland, Mark Brzezinski, for his services in strengthening and developing Polish entrepreneurship and his efforts to deepen transatlantic ties. The BCC awards special prizes of the Polish Business Leader competition to distinguish personalities outside the business community, who significantly contribute to the development of entrepreneurship and the market economy in Poland. Previous recipients include: Margaret Thatcher, Angela Merkel, George Bush, Jerzy Buzek, Madeleine Albright, Jacques Chirac, Lech Wałęsa, Tony Blair, Bronislaw Geremek, and Fr. Adam Boniecki.

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