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The Impact of EU law on National Judiciaries: Polish Administrative Courts and their Participation in the Process of Legal Integration in the EU

  • Urszula Jaremba

Abstract

Since May 2004 Polish administrative courts have passed a great deal of judgments in which the law of the European Union (formerly European Community law) has played either the main role or a subsidiary role in the proceedings. This article seeks to examine how the above-mentioned courts comply with the expectations which are put on them by EU law and how they participate in the process of legal integration within the EU. In this context, the author scrutinizes how the national judiciary adjudicating in the administrative law area understands, interprets, employs and applies the systemic principles of EU law such as: supremacy, and (in) direct effect and effectiveness. In addition, the participation of national courts in the process of a dialogue with the Court of Justice of the European Union through the preliminary ruling procedure is captured. The analysis is not aimed at being exhaustive and focuses solely on the total impact of EU law on the national judiciary and the general trends in the judicial application of EU law, that is to say the overall reception of EU law and the dimension of the EU-friendliness displayed by Polish administrative courts.

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References

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1 At that point of time in European Community law, with the introduction of the Lisbon Treaty the three pillars ceased to exist. Since most of the discussed cases concern situations from before the Lisbon Treaty entered into force the author refers to both EU and EC law interchangeably throughout the present paper.

2 On the application of EU law by national administration in the New Member States see Michal Bobek, Thou Shall Have Two Masters; the Application of European Law by Administrative Authorities in the New Member States, 1 Review of European Administrative Law (REAL) 51-63, (2009).

3 Case 26-62, NV Algemene Transport en Expeditie Onderneming van Gend & Loos v. Netherlands inland Revenue Administration, 1963 E.C.R. 1.

4 See Koopmans, Thijmen, European Law and The Role of the Courts 9 (1993).

5 Sciarra, Silvana, Integration through courts: article 177 as a pre-federal device, in Labour Law In the Courts. National Judges and the European Court of Justice 11 (Silvana Sciarra ed., 2001).

6 It should however be stressed that the necessity of changes in the Polish judiciary was extensively discussed by legal scholars, see for instance: Cezary, Mik, Sądy polskie wobec perspektywy przystąpienia Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej do Unii Europejskiej (Polish courts in view of accession of the Republic of Poland to the European Union), 1 Przegląd Prawa Europejskiego (PPE) 20 (1997); Garlicki, Lech, Członkostwo Polski w Unii Europejskiej a sądy (The membership of Poland in the European Union and courts) in Konstytucja Dla Rozszerzającej Się Europy (Constitution for the Expanding of Europe) 193 (Ewa Popławska ed., 2000); Wróbel, Andrzej, Uczestnictwo Polski w sqdownictwie wspólnotowym (The participation of Poland in the Community judicature) in Pryzstąpienie Polski Do Unii Europejskiej, Traktat Akcesyjny I Jego SKutki (The Accession of Poland to The European Union. The Accession Treaty and Its Consequences) 201 (Stanistaw Biernat, Stawomir Dudzik & Monika Niedźwiedź eds., 2003); Szpunar, Maciej, Wpływ członkostwa Polski w Unii Europejskiej na sądownictwo – zagadnienia wybrane (The impact of the Polish membership in the European Union on the judiciary - selected issues) in Pryzstąpienie Polski Do Unii Europejskiej, Traktat Akcesyjny I Jego SKutki (The Accession of Poland to The European Union. The Accession Treaty and Its Consequences) 277 (Stanisław Biernat, Sławomir Dudzik & Monika Niedźwiedź eds., 2003); Wentkowska, Aleksandra, Sądownictwo polskie w przeddzień przystąpienia do Unii Europejskiej – spostrzeżenia de lege ferenda (The Polish judiciary on the eve of the accession to the European Union – observations de lege ferenda) in Pryzstąpienie Polski Do Unii Europejskiej, Traktat Akcesyjny I Jego SKutki (The Accession of Poland to The European Union. The Accession Treaty and Its Consequences) 303 (Stanistaw Biernat, Stawomir Dudzik & Monika Niedźwiedź eds., 2003); Adam łazowski, Adaptation of the Polish legal system to European Union law: selected essays, 45 SEI Working Paper 21 (2001).

7 See Bobek, Michal, On the application of European law in (not only) the Courts of the New Member States: ‘Don't do as I say?', 10 Cambridge Yearbook of European Legal Studies 1 (2008); Zdeněk Kühn, The application of European law in the new Member States: several (early) predictions, 3 German Law Jounral (GLJ) 563 (2005); Prechal, Sacha, Roland Von Ooik, Jan H. Jands, KAmiel Mortelmans, “Europeanisation” Of The Law: Consequences for the Dutch Judiciary (2005); Ewa łętowska, Między Scyllą i Charybdq – sędzia polski między Strasburgiem i Luksemburgiem (Between Scylla and Charybda – the Polish judge between Strasbourg and Luxembourg) 1 EUROPEJSKI PRZEGLĄD SĄDOWY (EPS) 3 (2005); Wentkowska, Aleksandra, Sądownictwo polskie w przeddzień przystqpienia do Unii Europejskiej – spostrzeżenia de lege ferenda (The Polish judiciary on the eve of the accession to the European Union – observations de lege ferenda) in Pryzstąpienie Polski Do Unii Europejskiej, Traktat Akcesyjny I Jego SKutki (The Accession of Poland to The European Union. The Accession Treaty and Its Consequences) 277-302 (Biernat et al. eds., 2003); Wentkowska, Aleksandra, Legal insecurity? ECJ, sovereignty and Polish courts on the eve of EU membership, 7 Yearbook of Polish European STudies (YPES) 71, 95 (2003); Biernat, Stanistaw, “Europejskie” orzecznictwo sądów polskich przed przystqpieniem do Unii Europejskiej (European jurisprudence of Polish courts before the accession to the European Union) in Znaczenie Orzecznictwa W Systemie Źródeł Prawa. Prawo Europeskia A Prawo Karjowe (The significance of jurisprudence in the system of sources of law. European versus national law) 159, 175 (Bogdan Dolnicki ed., 2005).

8 See for instance Slaughter, Anne-Marie, Alec Stone Sweet & Joseph H.H.Weiler, The European Court and National Courts Doctrine and Jurisprudence. Legal Change in Its Social Context (1998); Tridimas, George & Tridimas, Takis, National courts and the European Court of Justice: a public choice analysis of the preliminary reference procedure, 24 International Review of Law and Economics 125 (2004); Sweet, Alec Stone & Brunell, Thomas L., The European Court of Justice and the national courts: a statistical analysis of preliminary reference, Journal of European Public Policy 66 (1998).

9 See Plötner, Jens, Report on France, in The European Court and National Courts- Doctrine and Jurisprudence. Legal Change in Its Social Context 41 (Anne-Marie Slaughter, Alec Stone Sweet & Joseph H.H. Weiler eds. 1998); also reports on Germany, Italy and the UK. Mitchel de S.-O.-L L'E Lasser, Judicial Transformations. The Rights Revolution in the Courts of Europe 58 (2009). Xavier Groussot suggests however that the situation has vividly changed in the recent years and EU law receives a positive response from the Conseil d'Etat, for more see: Xavier Groussot, EU Law Principles in French Public Law: An Accueil Réservé 1 REAL (2007).

10 See Claes, Monica & Witte, Bruno De, Report on the Netherlands, in The European Court and National Courts-Doctrine and Jurisprudence. Legal Change in Its Social Context 171 (Anne-Marie Slaughter, Alec Stone Sweet & Joseph H.H. Weiler eds., 1998).

11 In the present essay many articles and contributions concerning the issue of the application of EU law by Polish (administrative) courts are referred to. As the reader will notice those are predominantly written in Polish, see also note 6 and 7.

12 Case 26-62, NV Algemene Transport en Expeditie Onderneming van Gend & Loos v. Netherlands Inland Revenue Administration, 1963 E.C.R. 00001.

13 Formerly: Treaty Establishing the European Community, Art.10, 24 December 2002 (consolidated text), Official Journal C 325, 33, 42.

14 In those areas where the EU has the competence to do so.

15 Tridimas, Takis, Enforcing Community Rights in National Courts: Some Recent Developments, in Judicial Review in European Union Law. Liber Amicorum in Honour of Lord SLynn of Hardley 456, 465, (David O'Keeffe ed., 2000).

16 See for instance case CILFIT in which the Court of Justice explicitly stated that the national courts are responsible for the application of EU law, Case 83/81 Srl CILFIT and Lanificio di Gavardo Spa v. Ministry of Health, 1982 E. C. R. 3415, para. 7.

17 Treaty on European Union Art. 19(1) Para. 2, 30 March 2010 (consolidated text), Official Journal C 83, 15, 27 which reads: “Member States shall provide remedies sufficient to ensure effective legal protection in the fields covered by Union law.”

18 The issue is elaborately explored in the academic writing. For more see Monica Claes, The National Courts’ Mandate in the European Constitution (2005); Arnull, Anthony, The European Union and Its Court of Justice (2006); Precha, Sacha, Directives in EC Law (2nd ed., 2005); Prechal, Sacha, Roland Von Ooik, Jan H. Jans, Kamiel Moertelmans, “Europeanisation” Of the Law: Consequences for the Dutch Judiciary (2005); Mortelmans, Kamiel, Roland Von Ooik & Sacha Prechal, Europees Recht en De Nederlandse Rechter. Verworenheden En Uitdagingen (European law and the Dutch Judge. Achievement and challenges) (2004); Lord Slynn of Hadley, What is a European Community judge?, 52 Cambridge Law Journal 234 (1993) and numerous academic articles.

19 As a matter of fact, the term “second generation” was employed for the first time by Josse Mertens De Wilmars, L'Eficacité Des Différentes Techniques Nationales De Protection Juridique Contre Les Violations Du Droit Communautaire Par Les Authorités Nationales 379 (1981). For more check: Monica Claes, The National Courts’ Mandate in the European Constitution 103 (2005). Some authors use the word constitutional for the first generation issue since they are derived from the most crucial legal principles that are underpinning the entire legal system of the EU.

20 The principle of state liability has been elevated to the level of the fundamental principles of EU law by the ECJ. See joined Cases C-6/90 and C-9/90, Andrea Francovich and Danila Bonifaci and others v. Italian Republic, 1991 E.C.R. 1-5357. It is seen as a corollary of and supplementary to the principles of primacy, direct and indirect effect but at the same time it very much pertains to the problem of availability of an effective judicial remedy and therefore it may be claimed that it occupies the place between first and second generation obligations.

21 In accordance with TFEU Article 267, only the courts against whose decision there is no remedy are obliged to refer questions to the European Court if a question of interpretation of EU law occurs in a case pending before them.

22 See Kapteyn, Paul J.G., Europe's expectations of its judges, in European Ambitions of the National Judiciary 181, 187 (Rosa H.M.Jansen et al. eds., 1997).

23 Cartabia, Marta, Taking Dialogue Seriously. The Renewed Need for a Judicial Dialogue at the Time of Constitutional Activism in the European Union, 12 Jean Monnet Working Papers 41 (2007).

24 Except some of the judgments and resolutions of the Polish Supreme Court and the Constitutional Tribunal, there is no direct internet access to the case-law of first and second instance common jurisdiction courts in Poland. Some judgments are published and commented in the Orzecznictwo Sądów Polskich (Jurisprudence of Polish Courts) and in the commercial legal (on-line) data bases, such as Lex.

26 Data as of 1 August 2010. The word Community and its various declensions in the Polish language were used in the search engine. 4785 of the cases originated from the Supreme Administrative Court. In addition, phrases such as “supremacy of EU/EC law”, “direct effect”, “directive”, “direct applicability”, “effectiveness of EU law” and alike were entered in the search engine. In as much as 1530 cases in term “the principle of supremacy of EU law” was detected.

27 See the Constitution of the Republic of Poland, Art. 175, 2 April 1997, Official Journal No.78, item 483.

28 See Act on proceedings before administrative courts of 30 August 2002, art. 3, para. 1-4, Official Journal No.153 item 1270 with amendments.

29 See Act on proceedings before administrative courts of 30 August 2002, art. 3 para. 5-7 of the Official Journal No.153 item 1270 with amendments.

30 Act on a system of administrative courts of 25 July 2002, Official Journal No. 153 item 1269 with amendments.

31 Act on proceedings before administrative courts of 30 August 2002, Official Journal No.153 item 1270 with amendments.

32 See Act on proceedings before administrative courts of 30 August 2002, art.145 para.1Official Journal No.153 item 1270 with amendments which stipulates that an administrative court may annul a decision or an order in whole or partly if it finds an infringement of material law which constitutes a basis for the respective decision/order, an infringement of law enabling reopening of administrative action, infringement of other procedural norms which could have an essential impact on the decision. The administrative court may also invalidate a respective decision/order in a whole or partly if the requirements stated in art.156 of the Code of Administrative Proceeding are met or states that the respective decision/order was issued in breach of the law if the grounds stipulated in the Code of Administrative Proceeding or other norms are met.

33 Piasecki, Kazimierz, Organizacija Wymiaru Sprawiedliwości W Polsce (The organization of the justice administration in Poland) 178 (2005).

34 See art.153 of the Act on proceedings before administrative courts of 30 August 2002, Official Journal No.153 item 1270 with amendments which explicitly states that a decision of administrative court is binding on the respective administrative body.

35 Stanisław J. Frankowski, Introduction to Polish Law 153 (2005).

37 See Act on proceedings before administrative courts of 30 August 2002, art. 134, para.1, Official Journal No.153 item 1270 with amendments. For more check Dennis Galligan, Marcin Matczak, Strategies of Judicial Review. Exercising Judicial Discretion in Administrative Cases Involving Business Entities (2005).

38 See for instance I SA/Sz 258/10 of 15 July 2010, VAC in Szczecin, I SA/Wr 501/10 of 20 July 2010, VAC in Wrocław, I SA/Sz 202/09 of 13 May 2009.

39 See also Naczelny Sąd Administracyjny, Informacja o działalności sądów administracyjnych w 2009 (Information on the functioning of the administrative courts in 2009) 172 (2010).

40 See for instance I SA/Sz 620/09 of 4 November 2009, VAC in Szczecin, I SA/Bk 257/09 of 25 September 2009, VAC in Białystok, III Sa/Gd 90/09 of 19 March 2009, VAC in Gdansk, II SA/Bk 251/09 of 15 October 2009, VAC in Biatystok, II SA/Lu 810/08 of 2 June 2009, VAC in Lublin.

41 See for instance I SA/Ke 425/08 of 17 December 2008, VAC in Kielce, III SA/GI 406/08 of 26 June 2008, VAC in Gliwice, I SA/Bd 268/05 of 20 May 2005, VAC in Bydgoszcz, I SA/Bd 414/10 of 7 July 2010, VAC in Bydgoszcz, I SA/Po 704/07 of 14 June 2007, VAC in Poznan.

42 Using different names would namely hamper free travelling between the countries and a proper functioning in the broadly understood economic environment. See case III SA/Gd 546/04 of 20 October 2005, VAC in Gdansk. Moreover, the court argued that if all possible pro-European interpretations of the national law in question would still not allow to formally alter his name then in the light of the principle of supremacy of EU law over national law it would not be possible to apply the national provisions.

43 See for instance III SA/Wa 3329/08 of 27 May 2009, VAC in Warsaw.

44 Case I SA/op 348/05 of 9 March 2006 VAC in Opole, translation by the author.

45 Case I SA/td 980/05 of 9 November 2005, VAC in łódź, translation by the author.

46 Such as for instance the principle of proportionality.

47 Case III SA/Wa 2219/05 of 12 October 2005, VAC in Warsaw, I SA/Bk 221/08 of 3 September 2008, VAC in Biatystok, III SA/Wa 82/07 of 31 August 2007, VAC in Warsaw, III SA/Wa 173/08 of 30 April 2008, VAC in Warsaw, III SA/Wa 3329/08 of 27 May 2009, VAC in Warsaw, III SA/Wa 613/09 of 28 September 2009, VAC in Warsaw, III SA/Wa 13/09 of 25 May 2009, VAC in Warsaw, III SA/Wa 1278/08 of 29 October 2008, VAC in Warsaw, I SA/Lu 54/09 of 11 March 2009, VAC in Lublin, I SA/Bk 372/08 of 11 May 2008, VAC in Białystok, I SA/Bd 375/06 of 19 July 2006, VAC in Bydgoszcz, I SA/Bk 374/08 of 15 October 2008, VAC in Biatystok, I SA/Bk 447/08 of 17 December 2008, VAC in Biatystok, I SA/Bd 526/08 of 25 November 2008, VAC in Bydgoszcz, III SA/Gd 154/08 of 10 September 2008, VAC in Gdansk, I SA/Ke 110/08 of of 19 June 2008, VAC in Kielce I SA/Ke 111/08 of 19 June 2008, VAC in Kielce, I SA/Kr 1255/09 of 16 October 2009, VAC in Cracow, III SA/Kr 141/07 of 26 April 2007, VAC in Cracow, III SA/Po 123/10 of 7 April 2010, VAC in Poznan, I SA/Po 947/08 of 9 October 2008, VAC in Poznan, I SA/Rz 582/08 of 9 December 2008, VAC in Rzeszów, I SA/Sz 808/06 of 18 July 2007, VAC in Szczecin, I SA/Wr 946/09 of 25 August 2009, VAC in Wrocław, I SA/Wr 399/08 of 3 September 2008, VAC in Wrocław.

48 See the Constitution of the Republic of Poland of 2nd April 1997, J.L. No 78, item 483. Art. 87 stipulates that the sources of universally binding law of the Republic of Poland include: the Constitution, statutes, ratified international agreements and regulations and enactments of local law which are a source of universally binding law of in the territory of the organ issuing such enactments. Art.91 regulates the position of the international agreements by stating that after promulgation thereof in the Journal of Laws they constitute part of the domestic legal order and are to be applied directly, unless its application depends on the enactment of a statute. An international agreement ratified upon prior consent granted by statute takes precedence over statutes if such an agreement cannot be reconciled with the provisions of such statutes. Finally, if a ratified agreement establishing an international organization so provides, the laws established by it are applied directly and take precedence in the event of a conflict of laws.

49 See the judgment of the Constitutional Tribunal on the European Arrest Warrant of 27 of April 2005 P I/05 and the judgment on the Accession Treaty of 11 of May 2005 K 18/04.

50 Case I SA/Bk 221/08 of 3 September 2008, VAC in Biatystok.

51 Case I SA/Bd 275/05 of 20 July 2005, VAC in Bydgoszcz. It should however be pointed out that the court observed that the notion of validity of an act is not equivalent to the notion of application and that obligations put on individuals may not stem from unpublished Community legal acts. In that sense the court based its reasoning on the principle of legitimate expectations and legal certainty. See Roman Hausner & Robert Talaga, Publikacja rozporządzeń WE w języku krajowym a ich stosowanie przez sqdy administracyjne (Publication of EC regulations in national languages and their application by administrative courts) 41 EPS 4, 6 (2009) and their comments on the judgment and other judgments of Polish administrative courts which touched upon the application of EU regulations not translated into Polish. The reviewed by the authors case-law reflects different approaches Polish administrative courts take to the problem.

52 Case 314/85, Foto Frost v. Hauptzollamt Lübeck-Ost, 1987 E.C.R. 1-4199. The problem of the forcibility of Union's act unpublished in the language of a Member State has finally been resolved by the Court in a ruling provided to the question referred by a court of another New Member State, see Case C-161/06 Skoma-Lux sro v. Celní ředitelství Olomouc, 2007 E.C.R. I-10841. See also Michal Bobek, Learning to Talk: Preliminary Rulings, the Courts in the New Member States and the Court of Justice, 45 Common Market Law Review (CMLRev) 1611 (2008).

53 See for instance I SA/Lu 438/09 of 4 November 2009, VAC in Lublin, I SA/Lu 443/09 of 13 November 2009, VAC in Lublin.

54 Meaning that the national court sets aside the incompatible national provision and applies the EU law provision instead., see Case 106/77, Amministrazione delle Finanze dello Stato v. Simmenthal SpA, 1979 E.C.R. 629, para. 21.

55 See Case C-313/05 Maciej Brzeziński v. Dyrektor Izby Celnej w Warszawi, 2007 E.C.R. I-513. See also the reasoning in the procedural decision of the Constitutional Tribunal P 37/05 of 19 December 2006 which illustrates the divergences in jurisprudence concerning the issue.

56 See Biernat, supra note 7, at 175.

57 Dawid Miąsik, Application of general principles of EC law by Polish Courts, in General Principles of EC Law in A Process of Development 357, 378 (Ulf Bernitz et al Ed., 2000).

58 Interchangeably called conforming interpretation, interpretation in the light of EU directives, friendly interpretation, consistent interpretation. In the Polish doctrine the principle is predominantly referred to as a pro-Community interpretation.

59 See judgment of the Constitutional Tribunal of 28 January 2003, K2/02, part II point 4.4 of the reasoning in which the Tribunal held that interpreting national law in the light and spirit of EC law may and should be employed as the cheapest and quickest instrument of realizing the obligation to harmonize the law in the pre-accession period; see also judgment of the Supreme Court of 17 February 2004 I PK 386/03, judgment of the SAC, V SA 305/00 of 12 February 2001.

60 Miąsik, supra note 57, at 359.

61 In that sense the principle of indirect effect implies the obligation to interpret national law in conformity with EU directives.

62 Wentkowska, Aleksandra, A ‘secret garden’ of conforming interpretation - European Union law in Polish courts five years after accession, 12 Yearbook of Polish European Studies (YPES) 127, 128 (2009).

63 For instance the SAC in case I FSK 600/07 of 13 May 2008 correctly recognizes that an individual may directly rely on sufficiently precise and unconditional provision of a directive in case of non- or incorrect interpretation and it states that in such a situation the administrative court must set aside the national provision and apply EU law provision instead. However, the SAC refers to the foregoing as to the pro-European interpretation. In the whole judgment the SAC refer interchangeably to direct effect and harmonious interpretation to finally decide that pro-European interpretation may not go beyond the literal meaning of the national provision in question because it would impose new obligations on the party.

64 For instances Cases III SA/Wa 445/10 of 18 June 2010, VAC in Warsaw, I SA/Po 288/10 of 17 June 2010, VAC in Poznan, I SA/OI 704/09 of 13 December 2009, VAC in Olsztyn. Interestingly, in the academic writing it is also often referred to the principle of “Pro-European interpretation” which is interpreted in a very general way and encompassing the principle of supremacy and direct effect or even the fact of resorting and referring to EU law, see for instance Robert Zenc, Prowspólnotowa wykładnia polskiego prawa administracyjnego (Pro-European interpretation of Polish administrative law) in Wykładnia Prawa Unie Europejskiej 273 (Cezary Mik ed., 2008).

65 According to for instance VAC in Biatystok the harmonious interpretation is one of the basic conditions which can guarantee a proper relationship between national and EU law and allows the courts to avoid resolving the problems of the relationship at the level of the EU, see Case I SA/Bk 221/08 of 3 September 2008, VAC in Biatystok.

66 See Case III SA/GI 1308/08 of 16 September 2009, VAC in Gliwice, III SA/GI 1312/08 of 20 February 2009, VAC in Gliwice approved by the SAC in case I GSK 1008/09 of 30 June 2010.

67 See Case I SA/Po 194/10 of 23 June 2010, VAC in Poznan.

68 See Case III SA/Gl 1308/08 of 16 September 2009, VAC in Gliwice, III SA/Gl 1294/08 of 27 January 2009, VAC in Gliwice approved by the SAC in I GSK 995/09 of 29 June 2010, I SA/Lu 130/10 of 18 June 2010, VAC in Lublin.

69 See Case III SA/Gl 1312/08 of 20 February 2009, VAC in Gliwice approved by the SAC in case I GSK 1008/09 of 30 June 2010.

70 See Case I SA/Po 194/10 of 23 June 2010, VAC in Poznan, I SA/Op 495/09 of 15 January 2010, VAC in Opole, III SA/Wa 497/10 of 18 June 2010, VAC in Warsaw, I FSK 600/07 of 13 May 2008, SAC in Warsaw.

71 See Case I SA/Bk 562/09 of 20 January 2010, VAC in Biatystok, I SA/Op 495/09 of 15 January 2010, VAC in Opole, I SA/Wr 1620/09 of 14 December 2009, VAC in Wrocław, III SA/Wa 571/09 of 30 September 2009, VAC in Warsaw.

72 See Cases: III SA/Wa 2322/09 of 11 May 2010, VAC in Warsaw, III SA/Wa 3537/06 of 13 July 2007, VAC in Warsaw and III SA/Wa 988/06 of 20 October 2005, VAC in Warsaw.

73 See also łętowska, supra note 7, who claims that “Polish courts are fond of textual interpretation and sometimes they attach too much importance thereto” and adds that in Poland the courts are not well aware of the obligation of harmonious interpretation and do not have the necessary skills to proceed with it. Elsewhere it is observed that “In Poland, legal positivism entirely leaves out this cultural and communicative character of law by assuming that the content of law becomes known due to the linguistic correctness of the text which guarantees, to a significant degree, its reading in accordance with the legislator's intention”. See Marek Zirk-Zadowski, Transformation and integration of legal cultures and discourses - Poland, in Spreading Democracy and the Rule of Law? 299, 310 (Wojciech Sadurski, Adam Czarnota & Martin Krygier eds. 2006).

74 The reluctance to employ different methodological tool by the courts in the New Member States is quite intensively discussed in the academic literature, see for instance Zdeněk Kühn, The application of European law in the new member states: several (early) predictions 3 German Law Journal 563-582 (2005); Bobek, Michal, A new legal order, or a non-existent one? Some (early) experiences in the application of EU law in Central Europe, 2 Croatian Yearbook of European Law and Policy (CYELP) 265 (2006).

75 From Marcin Matczak, Matyas Bencze, Zdenek Kühn, Constitutions, EU law and judicial strategies in the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland, 30 Journal of Public Policy (JPP) 81, 82 (2010). The authors have conducted an extensive analysis of the case-law of national administrative courts and came to the conclusion that judges predominantly resort to a linguistic interpretation of legal texts and judicial formalism.

76 Zirk-Sadowki, Marek, The judicature of Polish administrative courts after the accession to the EU, 15 EIF Working Paper Series 19, 25 (2006).

77 See Bodnar, Adam, Comment on Katharina Pabel - the right to an effective remedy in a polycentric legal system, 6 German Law Journal 1617 (2005); łęrowska, supra note 9; and various authors in Ewa Popławska, Konstytucja dla rozszerzającej się Europy (A constitution for the expanding Europe) (2000).

78 See Cases: III SA/GI 1308/08 of 16 September 2009, VAC in Gliwice, III SA/GI 1294/08 of 27 January 2009, VAC in Gliwice, I SA/Lu 840/09 of 16 April 2010, VAC in Lublin.

79 Mitchel De s.-O.-L'E Lasser, Judicial Deliberations. A Comparative Analysis of Judicial Transparency and Legitimacy 212 (2004).

80 See I SA/Wr 290/09 of 19 june 2009, VAC in Wrocław, III SA/GI 1308/08 of 16 September 2009, VAC in Gliwice, III SA/GI 1323/08 of 13 February 2009, VAC in Gliwice, I SA/Wr 281/08 of 10 December 2008, VAC in Wrocław and tens of other judgments of the VAC in Wrocław.

81 Case I SA/Go 83/10 of 27 May 2010, VAC in Gorzów Wlkp, I SA/Bd 514/10 of 27 of August 2010, VAC in Bydgoszcz, I SA/Bd 507/10 of 20 July 2010, VAC in Bydgoszcz, I SA/Lu 77/05 of 25 May 2005, VAC in Lublin, III SA/Wa 2962/06 16 January 2007, VAC in Warsaw.

82 Cases I SA/Go 1015/07 of 18 December 2007, VAC in Gorzów Wlkp, III SA/Wa 133/10 of 21 May 2010, VAC in Warsaw, I SA/Gd 637/06 of 26 January 2007, VAC in Gdansk, I SA/Gd 900/09 of 26 January 2010, VAC in Gdansk.

83 Case III SA/GI 1309/08 of 16 September 2009, VAC in Gliwice, I SA/GI 1137/05 of 26 April 2006, VAC in Gliwice.

84 Case III SA/Kr 199/09 of 27 August 2009, VAC in Cracow.

85 Case I SA/Lu 607/05 of 7 April 2006, VAC in Lublin, III SA/Wa 1767/06 of 19 January 2007, VAC in Warsaw.

86 Case I FSK 1244/08 8 July 2009, SAC in Warsaw.

87 Cases I SA/Go 1015/07 of 18 December 2007, VAC in Gorzów Wlkp, I SA/op 92/09 of 13 July 2009, VAC in Opole, III SA/Wa 1367/08 25 of June 2009, VAC in Warsaw.

88 The facts of the case are as follows: WK and MF went into partnership and in the framework of the economic activity performed by the partnership they purchased a passenger car abroad. In accordance with the valid at the time national rules the partnership had to pay the excise duty which was levied on the respective car. The partnership applied for the excise duty rebate but their application was rejected. In March 2007 the partnership ceased to exist. In the meantime the judgment in case Brzeziński was pronounced which implied that the national rules levying the duty were not in compliance with EU law (see note 55). In March 2008 WK and M, being at the time natural persons since their partnership had already ceased to exist applied for reopening of the proceeding and the excise duty rebate. However, the proceeding was discontinued since the duty was paid by the partnership and not by WK and MF themselves who were classified as third party to the proceeding and the national procedural rules do not provide for excise duty rebate to the persons which did not pay them.

89 Case I SA/Bk 207/10, 208/10, 209/10, 210/10 of 25 June 2010, VAC in Biatystok, also the preceding and following judgments.

90 Case I SA/Wr 128/06 of 31 October 2006, VAC in Wrocław.

91 Doctrine of acte éclairé implies that the provision has already been interpreted by the Court. Acte clair means that the provision and its interpretation are obvious as to leave no room for doubt and can be deduced from the existing case law.

92 See for instance Cases: II SA/GI 324/10 of 11 August 2010, VAC in Gliwice, I SA/Lu 743/09 of 26 February 2010, VAC in Lublin, II OSK 1199/09 of 5 November 2009, SAC in Warsaw., III SA/Wa 82/08 of 17 April 2008, VAC in Warsaw. See also Stanisław Biernat & Piotr Wróbel, Stosowanie prawa Wspólnoty Europejskiej w polskim sądownictwie administracyjnym (The application of EC law by the Polish administrative judicature) in Studia Prawno-Europejskie (Studies on European law) 7 (Michat Seweryński ed., 2007).

93 See Case C-313/05, Maciej Brzeziński v. Dyrektor Izby Celnej w Warszawie, 2007 E.C.R. I-513. For a more detailed overview of the Brzeziński case and other cases referred by Polish courts see Gawlik & Grzeszczak supra note 83, at 55-60.

94 See the order of the ECJ in Case C-168/06 Ceramika Paradyż sp. z o.o. v. Dyrektor Izby Skarbowej w łodzi, 2007 E.C.R. I-00029. The question was referred by VAC in łódź. For the critique of the way the ECJ proceeded with the respective question, i.e. refused to rule on the issue since the alleged irregularity took place before the accession, see Nina Półtorak, Ratione temporis application of the preliminary rulings procedure, 45 CMLR 1357, 1372 (2008) who argues that the decision of the ECJ was surprising and incorrect on several points but also has detrimental effect on national courts in new member states since it can discourage them from referring their questions.

95 EC Directive 77/388 of 17 May 1977, O.J. 1977 L 145/1 on the harmonization of the laws of the Member States relating to turnover taxes - Common system of value added tax: uniform basis of assessment, with amendments, also known as the VAT directive.

96 See Cases C-25/07, Alicja Sosnowska v. Dyrektor Izby Skarbowej we Wrocławiu, Ośrodek Zamiejscowy w Wałbrzychu, 2008 E.C.R. I-05129, - the national provisions were found to be in breach of EU law C-414/07, Magoora sp. z o.o. v. Dyrektor Izby Skarbowej w Krakowie, 2008 E.C.R. I-10921 – the national provisions were not in conformity with EU law, C-426/07, Dariusz Krawczyński v. Dyrektor Izby Celnej w Białymstoku, 2008 E.C.R. I-06021 - the national provisions in question were in principle compatible with EU law provided that conditions stipulated in the earlier Brzeziński ruling were fulfilled.

97 Case C-502/07, K-1 sp. z o.o. v. Dyrektor Izby Skarbowej w Bydgoszczy, 2009 E.C.R. I-00161. The national provisions were held compatible with EU law.

98 Case C-544/07, Uwe Rüffler v. Dyrektor Izby Skarbowej we Wrocławiu Ośrodek Zamiejscowy w Wałbrzychu, 2009 E.C.R. I-03389. The court found that national legislation was incompatible with the EC Treaty.

99 Case C-314/08, Krzysztof Filipiak v. Dyrektor Izby Skarbowej w Poznaniu, 2009 E.C.R. 00000. The national provisions were found to be incompatible with the EC Treaty.

100 See judgment of the Constitutional Tribunal on social security and healthcare insurance contributions paid abroad of 7 November 2007, K 18/06 in which the Tribunal held that Art.27b(1) of the Law of 26 July 1991 on income tax payable by natural persons under which the right to a reduction of the income tax by the amount of compulsory health insurance contributions is restricted to contributions paid on the basis of provisions of national law is in breach of Art. 32 and 2 of the Polish Constitution.

101 Filipiak, supra note 99, para. 85.

102 See case I SA/Po 1006/09 of 14 January 2010, VAC in Poznan.

103 Cases C-441/08 Elektrownia Pątnów II sp. Zoo v. Dyrektor Izby Skarbowej w Poznaniu, 2009 E.C.R. I-10799 –national provisions were found at variance with EU law; C-188/09 Dyrektor Izby Skarbowej w Białymstoku v. Profaktor Kulesza, Frankowski, Jóźwiak, Orłowski sp. J, 2010 E.C.R. 00000 – national provisions were found compatible with EU law; C-222/09 Kronospan Mielec sp. z o. o. v. Dyrektor Izby Skarbowej w Rzeszowie – pending; C-438/09 Bogusław Juliusz Dankowski v. Dyrektor Izby Skarbowej w łodzi, 2010 E.C.R. I-0000; C-395/09 Oasis East sp. z o.o. v. Minister Finansów, – pending.

104 Case C-522/08, Telekomunikacja Polska SA w Warszawie v. Prezes Urzędu Komunikacji Elektroniczne, 2010 E.C.R. 00000, national provisions were found compatible with EC Directive 2002/21/EC of 7 March 2002, O.J. 2002 L 108/33 but incompatible with EC Directive 2005/29/EC of 11 May 2005, O.J. 2005 L 149/22.

105 It was yet clear that both references of 9 April 2010, which originated from the same chamber of the SAC, could have been collated since they both concerned the problem of interpretation of EC Directive 2006/112/EC of 28 November 2006, O.J. 2006 L 347/1 and EC Directive 77/288/EEC of 17 May 1977, O.J. 1977 L 145/1. Both references were later joined by the order of the ECJ on 21 June 2010 in Case C-180/10 and 181/10, Jarosław Słaby v. Ministrowi Finansów and Emilian Kuć, Halina Jeziorska-Kuć v. Dyrektor Izby Skarbowej w Warszawie, -pending.

106 EC Council Directive 2006/112 of 28 November 2006, O.J. 2006 L 347/1 on the common system of value added tax. Reference in Case 280/10 Kopalnia Odkrywkowa Polski Trawertyn P. Granatowicz, M. Wąsiewicz (a partnership) v. Dyrektor Izby Skarbowej w Poznaniu, - pending.

107 Decision in case II FSK 2130/08 of 26 May 2010, SAC in Warsaw, not assigned a reference number yet.

108 EC Directive 69/335/EEC of 17 July 1969, O.J. 1969 L 249/25 concerning indirect taxes on the raising of capital. Reference in Case C-212/10, Logstor ROR Polska Sp. z o.o. v. Dyrektor Izby Skarbowej w Katowicach, - pending.

109 De S.-O.-L'E Lasser, supra note 79. Whereas the VAC in Cracow in Case I SA/Kr 147/09 of 3 April 2008 decided to set aside the national legal provisions which were held incompatible with EU law and apply the directly effective provisions of 6th VAT Directive, other VACs held that the national provisions might still be applicable by virtue of the so-called standstill proviso included in Art.17 of the respective Directive – see I SA/Wr 969/08 of 19 February 2009, VAC in Wrocław or I SA/OI 59/09 of 12 March 2009, VAC in Olsztyn.

110 Discrepancies as to how the ruling of the Court should be interpreted and applied appeared even within the same VAC as it happened in cases I SA/Gd 570/08 of 16 October 2008, VAC in Gdansk and I SA/Gd 330/08 of 5 August 2008, VAC in Gdansk.

111 On the problem of procedural aspects of the preliminary ruling question in administrative proceedings see Maciej Szpunar, Procedura prejudycjalna z perspektywy unormowań kodeksu postępowania cywilnego oraz prawa o postępowaniu przed sądami administracyjnymi (The preliminary ruling from the perspective of the code of civil procedure and the law on the proceeding before administrative courts) in Pytanie Prejudycjalne W Orzecznictwie Ets. Funkcjonowanie Procedury Prejudycjalnel W Polsce (Preliminary Question In the Jurisprudence of the ECJ. Functioning of the Preliminary Ruling Procedure in Poland) 185 (Cezary Mik ed., 2006).

112 The proceedings are stayed on the basis of art. 125 para. 1 point 1 of the Act on proceedings before administrative courts which allows the court to ex officio stay the proceedings provided that giving a judgment is dependent upon another legal proceeding or art. 124 para 1 point 5 of the respective act which allows courts to stay the proceeding in order to refer a preliminary question to the Constitutional Tribunal.

113 Supra, note 6 and 7.

114 From Gawlik, Katarzyna & Grzeszczak, Robert, Pytania prejudycjalne polskich sądów (The preliminary questions of Polish courts), 38 EPS 55, 55 (2008).

115 The Czech Supreme Administrative Court has resorted to the procedure five times in cases: C-233/08, Milan Kyrian v. Celní úřad Tábor, 2010 E.C.R. 00000, C-299/09, DAR Duale Abfallwirtschaft und Verwertung Ruhrgebiet GmbH v Ministerstvo životního prostředí, - removed from the register, C-339/09, Skoma-Lux s. r. o v. Celní ředitelství Olomouc, 2010 E.C.R. 00000, C-393/09, Bezpečnostni softwarová asociace – Svaz softwarové ochrany v. Ministerstvo kultury, 2010 E.C.R. 00000, C-399/09 Marie Landtová v. Česká správa sociálního zabezbečení, 2010 E.C.R. 00000. The Bulgarian Administrative Supreme Court has resorted to the procedure three times in cases: C-2/09, Peter Dimitrov Kalinchev v. Regionalna Mitnicheska Direktsia — Plovdiv, 2010 E.C.R. 00000, C-546/09, Aurubis Balgaria v. Nachalnik na Mitnitsa, - pending, C-203/10, Direktsia ‘Obzhalvane i upravlenie na izpalnenieto’ – Varna v. Auto Nikolovi OOD, 2011 E.C.R. 00000. The Supreme Administrative Court of Lithuania resorted to the procedure three times in cases: C-63/06, UAB Profisa v. Muitinės departamentos prie Lietuvos Respublikos finansų ministerijos, 2007 E.C.R. I-03239, C-119/08, Mechel Nemunas UAB v. Valstybinė mokesčių inspekcija prie Lietuvos respublikos finansų ministerijos, 2009 E.C.R I-00012, C-295/10 Petras Girinskis and Laurynas Arimantas Lašas v. Municipal Council of the District of Pakruojas, the Šiauliai Centre for Public Health and the Šiauliai Regional Department for Environmental Protection, - pending. The legal systems of the remaining new Members do not provide for a separate administrative jurisdiction.

116 See Bartosiewicz, Adam, Efektywno⋅i Prawa Wspólnotogewo W polscena Prykładzie Vat (The effectivness of Community law in Poland – case of VAT) 58 (2009).

117 This has also been suggested by Miąsik, supra note 57, at 382.

118 At the same time, the author would like to stress that the vivid presence of EU law in the jurisprudence of the Polish administrative courts does not imply that the same situation takes place with regard to the jurisprudence of the common courts.

119 See for instance judgments: VII SA/Wa 492/10 of 5 July 2010, VAC in Warsaw, III SA/Wa 33/10 of 21 July 2010, VAC in Warsaw, III SA/Wa 952/10 of 14 July 2010, VAC in Warsaw.

120 See also Kühn, supra note 7, at 576.

* PhD candidate at the Department of European Union Law, Erasmus School of Law, Erasmus University, Rotterdam. E-mail: This essay was originally presented at the 40th Annual UACES Conference “Europe at a Crossroads” in Bruges, Belgium, on 8 September 2010. The author would like to thank an anonymous reviewer for all insightful and helpful comments.

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