The Polish Legal and Court System
An overview of the legal and court systems in Poland.
An independent judiciary is maintained by a Supreme Court at the head, and an independent State Tribunal plus a Constitutional Tribunal.
Supervises the adjudication in:
- Common courts - these are district, voivodship [province] and appeal courts. They adjudicate in the areas of civil, criminal, family and labour law.
- Military courts - that is circuit and garrison courts. They deal with matters related to crimes committed by soldiers in active service, civilians employees in military units and prisoners of war.
- Administrative courts - a separate court system which deals with adjudication on the legal compliance of decisions taken by administrative bodies. It also settles cases between legal persons or citizens and administrative bodies.
The president of the Republic of Poland appoints Supreme Court judges. This is done upon a motion of the National Judicial Council. The president also selects the first president of the Supreme Court from among candidates presented by the Supreme Court Justice General Assembly.
The first court president serve this post for a six-year term, though he or she can be dismissed by the Sejm upon a motion by the president of the Republic of Poland.
The Constitutional Tribunal is a judicial body established to resolve disputes on the constitutionality of the activities of state bodies, mainly inspecting the compliance of the law with the Constitution of the Republic of Poland. The Constitutional Tribunal adjudicates on the compliance with the Constitution of legislation and international agreements (also their ratification), on disputes over the powers of central constitutional bodies, and on compliance with the Constitution of the aims and activities of political parties. It also rules on constitutional complaints.
The Constitutional Tribunal is made up of 15 judges chosen by the Sejm for nine-year terms. They are fully independent. The Constitutional Tribunal constitutes one of the formal guarantees of a law-based state.
The judicial body which rules on the constitutional liability of people holding the highest state positions. It examines cases on the infringement of the constitution and laws or crimes committed by the President of the Republic of Poland, government members, the president of the Supreme Chamber of Control, president of the National Bank of Poland, heads of central administrative offices and others.
The State Tribunal is empowered, amongst other things, to rule for the removal of individuals from public office, a ban on individuals taking management positions, the loss of an individual’s right to vote and to stand for election, the withdraw of previously granted medals, commendations and honorary titles, and in criminal cases also impose penalties stipulated in the criminal code.
The composition of the State Tribunal is set at the first sitting of each new Sejm and is binding for its term. The head of the office is the first president of the Supreme Court. His two deputies and 16 members of the State Tribunal are chosen from outside the Sejm. Members of the State Tribunal must have Polish citizenship, can not have a criminal record or had their civic rights revoked, nor can they be employed in the state administration.