Bartosz Kwiatkowski, Miłosz Jakubowski, Agata Langowska-Krok, PIHRB, 2017

The objective of this analysis is to present areas within which severe risks of human rights abuses exist in Poland in connection with the activities of business enterprises in order to determine the barriers of effective remedies within the meaning of the third pillar of the “United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights”, and to propose recommendations aimed at resolving identified legal problems.

This analysis focuses on areas where the risk of detrimental activity from business enterprises is most evident. This includes regulations concerning employment relationships, consumer protection, environmental protection, as well as broadly understood economic crime and corruption. Specific areas are briefly described in Chapter 2 – Review of the most important business-related abuses.

The following chapters define the most significant problems limiting the possibilities of redress in the case of law infringement. Problems and recommendations are divided according to law fields referred to as: civil law, criminal law and administrative law. Each of these fields regulates different areas of social relations – the civil law is the area of private law, whereas the administrative and criminal law represents public law.

Civil law comprises legal norms regulating parties’ mutual rights and obligations related to everyday situations. It provides practical protection of fundamental human rights, including the protection of life, health and property. If required, everyone may claim respect for such rights against another person in civil proceedings under the rules defined mainly in the Civil Code (CC). Thus, it is possible to seek redress for any harm suffered, claim compensation for material losses sustained, or demand discontinuation of further infringement of rights.

The basic function of administrative law is the regulation of social relations that appear in public administration activities with a focus on protecting public interest. If social relations are not compliant with administrative law norms, it is possible to appeal against a given decision under administrative proceedings, regulated mainly by the Code of Administrative Procedure (CAP), and subsequently challenge it, pursuant to the law on proceedings before administrative courts, to the administrative court, itself. As such, it is possible, inter alia, to claim the elimination of administrative decisions that infringe on legal norms.

Broadly understood criminal law determines a catalogue of prohibited acts (whenever civil or administrative law regulations are insufficient) and rules concerning holding the perpetrators of such crimes accountable along with a catalogue of possible penalties or other measures which should, on the one hand, punish the offender for the wrong done and on the other, redress the damage and harm suffered by the victim, as well as protect society against similar behaviours of that or other potential perpetrators in the future…

Additionally, the scope of the analysis also comprises issues and recommendations associated with the operation of the OECD National Contact Point in Poland, currently acting – as of 1 July 2016 – within the structure of the Ministry of Economic Development.

The report also includes a review of the most important business-related abuses in Poland.