Driving Ban Questioned

Fighting the Fight

Fighting the Fight (c) S. Kaminski

According to the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, driving license bans for exceeding a speed limit of 50 km/h in a built-up area violates the Constitution. There are already many arguments supporting the argument that it is for the Constitutional Tribunal to decide what sentence to impose in these circumstances. Firstly, revoking taking away someone’s license is tantamount to giving someone an administrative penalty, which is imposed together with other penalties determined in the Highway Code. Dr Marcin Warchoł, an expert in criminal law from the University of Warsaw says that by punishing someone both administratively and criminally violates the ne bis in idem rule, i.e. someone cannot be punished twice for the same offense. This itself violates the Constitution.
prawo.gazetaprawna.pl 

New Fiscal Punitive Measure

Calculating Tax

Calculating Tax

Poles have time up until the end of April to submit their annual tax returns. Companies additionally need to attach their financial statements and a failure to do so is a fiscal misdemeanour as of this year under amended article 80b of the Polish Fiscal Penal Code. Thus, tax authorities have a new tool to discipline businesses which neglect to file their financial statements or auditor’s reports. The classification of this omission as a fiscal misdemeanour means that the penalty may range from PLN 175 to PLN 35,000, whereas a fine for an administrative petty offence does not exceed a few hundred zlotys. The exact amount of the fine depends mainly on the financial standing of the entity in breach of the statutory obligation. In companies the fines are typically imposed on management board members or other persons responsible for tax and accounting settlements. Both the Corporate Income Tax Act and the Personal Income Tax Act stipulate that tax payers must file their financial statements with the tax office, yet noncompliance was so widespread as to prompt the Ministry of Finance to introduce sanctions. The requirement to keep full books of account, prepare financial statements and have them audited vary depending on the legal form of the entity concerned and, in the case of natural persons and some partnerships, on their net revenues from sales in the previous financial year. The tax payers obliged to draft financial statements should remember that the obligation to submit a financial statement to the relevant tax office along with the tax return is separate from and independent of the obligation to file the same statement with the National Court Register.
Puls Biznesu

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Crime on the Rise

More Needed?

More Needed?

One billion dollars’ worth of goods have been stolen from Polish shops over the last two years. An increase in theft has been observed caused in all probability by a change in the law. The Polish government increased the amount of money up to PLN 450 which qualifies as an offence. A thief can now only be fined instead of being brought to trial. The lion’s share of all thefts are committed by organised crime groups. They steal alcohol, electronic devices, clothes, cosmetics and coffee from all over the Poland. Not only is poor legislation to blame for this situation but also a lack of a record of offences. Now, organised crime groups can steal in different regions of Poland and be fined several times without further consequences. Another reason for the growing rate of theft is the poor level of security as most security guards are over 40 with one in ten over 60 years old whereas thieves are usually between 18 and 45 years old. The Ministry of Interior is working on changes to the law and on setting up a record of offences. However, it is said that there will be no change in the law for the next two years, that is the term of office of the current Civic Platform (PO) government.
finanse.wp.pl

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Poland Under Surveillance Again

Big Brother is Watching

Big Brother is Watching

It seems that new provisions forced through by Justice Minister Grabarczyk may permit the surveillance of citizens just as with the controversial ACTA agreement. The amendment to the Law on the System of Common Courts of 20 February 2015 grants politicians the right to access case files and the internet systems of courts. The Minister of Justice argues that these provisions are in place only to allow him the power to supervise the activities of courts and to react in case of its apparent slowness. However, Judge Mariusz Królikowski warns that information stored on the internet systems of courts is not anonymous. It contains the minutes of court proceedings, judicial rulings and their justifications; thus, highly sensitive data regarding personal and professional matters of all parties involved in legal proceedings. As a result, such access to data will allow officials to check, for instance, if a member of the opposition pays maintenance or was ever tried for driving under the influence of alcohol by simply typing into the system his or her surname. Grabarczyk has declared he will not use his empowerment in bad faith and that his only aim is to improve the efficiency of proceedings. Yet, however good his intentions are, the amendment may give rise to abuses and may limit privacy in the future.
rp.pl

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More Cycle Routes

Two-Way Route

Two-Way Route

Work is underway to add further regulations to the amended provisions of the Polish Road Traffic Act. Cyclists await new provisions that would address so-called ‘bike boxes’ and allow for two-way cycle traffic on one-way streets. “We are still working on regulations that establish how much road space should be allotted to pedestrians and cyclists. The necessary requirements for cycling lanes are in the final stage of development,” stated Adam Zdziebło, the Polish Deputy Minister of Infrastructure and Development, who was in parliament answering questions put to him by the Parliamentary Cycling Group chairperson Ewa Wolak, and by Marek Holak of Civic Platform (PO). The deputy minister emphasised that the amendments take into account the demands of cycling organisations, and that the working meetings with the representative of the Minister of Infrastructure took place in October and September this year. He reminded people that in recent years new terminology has been introduced into law and a new regulation has also been added: bicycles can now overtake slow-moving vehicles on the right. According to Marcin Hyła, head of Cities for Bicycles, urgent clarification is needed in regard to ‘bike boxes’, which enable cyclists to stop at traffic lights at an intersection in front of cars. This ensures that cyclists can pull away earlier when a traffic light turns green, and are therefore more visible to drivers. “Bike boxes have been added to the amended Road Traffic Act, although they still need to be precisely defined,” said Marcin Hyła to the Polish Press Agency (PAP).
prawo.rp.pl

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Easier Marriages

Tying the Knot

Tying the Knot

The new Registry Office Act makes it possible for people to to get married outside the registry office and give their children foreign names. These changes are expected to come into force in 2015. According to the Ministry of Interior, the 1986 Act, which is currently in force, does not meet the standards of transparent legislation because most of the regulations require modification due to social and legal changes as well as technological progress. According to the new act, from 2015 couples will be able to get married outside the registry office building, but in a place that does not deprive the ceremony of seriousness and importance whilst guaranteeing the safety of all participants. Couples will have to pay for the organisation of such an event. In mid 2013, when the government was working on the bill, Prime Minister Donald Tusk said it was all about meeting the expectations of young couples who want to get married in a less official way. At present, you can only get married outside the registry office in specific situations, for example, when the bride or groom is in hospital or prison. According to the new act, it will also be possible to give children foreign names, which will be particularly important for mixed marriages and immigrants receiving Polish citizenship. However, you will not be able to give children more than two names, diminutive names, ridiculous or indecent names.
wyborcza.pl

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More Personal Data in Banks

Securing Data

Securing Data

Today, the Credit Information Bureau (BIK) is the enemy of anyone who has ever sinned by being late in repaying credit cards or the suchlike. Banks always check BIK before granting a new loan in order to find out what kind of client they are dealing with. If the client is a ‘sinner’ then they refuse or dictate high interest rates. If the client is a reliable payer then the vault door is open. However, upcoming changes in business information bureaus (BIG), i.e. debtor ‘black lists’, may change all this. BIGs are private companies that collect information on unreliable payers under a special law. One can find oneself on the list for an unpaid phone bill or unpaid rent. Unlike BIK, BIG is required to remove individuals from the database soon after the payment of the debt. However, last year BIGs decided to also collect positive data, which means they collect data about clients who pay invoices on time. For instance, Infomonitor BIG acquires data about customers of telecom companies, stores and provides this data to BIK. BIK can then take this data into account when calculating the creditworthiness of a client applying for a mortgage. The result is that you may have a good credit history but if you had payment problems in a telecom company because you did not pay an invoice on time then the bank may consider you untrustworthy. Telecoms cannot transfer your data to BIK without your permission, and it is usually included in the small print in your contract which you usually sign. If you sign this consent banks will know whether you pay your phone bills on time and your phone network operator will know your creditworthiness.
wyborcza.biz

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