The Polish government has presented guidelines for a new restitution bill
On the 11th of October 2017, the Polish deputy Minister of Justice Mr. Patryk Jaki has held a press conference during which he has presented general guidelines of a proposed new legislative effort intended to cover all cases of properties nationalized by the Polish communist government after World War II.
The exact details of the new regulations are unknown due to the fact that the draft of the bill is subject of consultation in a parliamentary committee and it is expected that the text of the proposed bill will be made public in about two weeks’ time. Minister Jaki informed that the government will make a strong effort for the new restitution bill to enter into force before the end of this year.
During today’s conference Minister Patryk Jaki described the general guidelines under which the new law is being drafted:
- Most importantly the bill will introduce a deadline for filing a claim for nationalized property – there will be only one year time period from the time the legislature will be put into force to submit a claim;
- During that one year period the State Treasury (or housing cooperative in case of properties built-up with cooperative buildings) will conduct a call out procedure for properties with unregulated legal status. If no claims will be made during that year, the State Treasury (or housing cooperative) will become the rightful owner of properties with unregulated legal status.
- Only physical persons will be eligible for submitting of a claim. Moreover, the claim can be brought either by the original owners or a limited circle of their heirs. To be eligible to receive the remedies, the previous owner of the property and the entitled heirs must be Polish citizens.
- The Act will regulate remedies – but no damages, as they are excluded from being applied to the proceeding – for nationalized properties. It will be impossible to restitute the property itself, but rather there will be compensation provided in form of monetary instruments. The value of the said remedies will be determined through special valuation proceedings, and will be based according to a number of factors such as the date of nationalization, including all liabilities, such as mortgages or outlays – for instance, the fact that the building was a ruin on day of nationalization and was rebuilt following years by City or Treasury.
- The cases will be resolved in one of three ways, depending on Petitioner claims:
- First, in form of cash payments, equal to 20% of nationalized property value;
- Second, in form of long-term bonds, equal to 25% of nationalized property value;
- Third, in form of voucher for settlements with the Treasury, equal to 20% of nationalized property value.
- However, the pay-out process will be stretched over a longer period of time as it is believed that it is impossible for the State budget to cope with payments conducted over a relatively short period of time. Therefore even obtaining of the administrative act that grants the compensation will not necessarily mean that the claimant will actually receiving the funds. Each year the Minister of Treasury will allocate the appropriate amount for said remedies and they will be awarded to the stated value, while the remaining claims will be transferred for the new year. There are two concepts how to decide the priority of awarding the claims – first one is to base them as of date of receipt, while the second one is to base them on pro rata basis.
- Institution of court appointed administrator will be excluded from remedy proceedings.
- There will be new legal institution for renewing the cases – both administrative and the ones that ended in final and binding sentence made by the courts.
- In case of the “Warsaw properties”, that is those encompassed by the so called Bierut Decree often also referred to as the Warsaw Act, there will be a possibility to submit a claim for the compensation even if the owners of the nationalized properties failed to submit a claim during the time frame described in Bierut decree.
- The Act will ensure a possibility of suspension of executions of administrative acts and court rulings related to properties nationalized in Warsaw.
- The proceeding will be conducted by Provincial Office (Urząd Wojewódzki), while the appeals will be filed directly to the Minister of Justice.
- All proceedings currently pending before administrative bodies or courts will be dismissed.
It is too early to comment on the details of this proposal before the actual draft of the bill will become publicly available. It is certainly a positive development that the current government decided to take on the long overdue problem of lack of comprehensive legislature which could potentially enable the compensation of families who have lost properties during the communist time in Poland and have never received fair compensation. Poland is the only country in the Central European region which has failed to put a comprehensive legislative effort in place after the shift from communist regime to a democratic state.
One can only hope that this legislative effort will concentrate more on giving the victims of communism a chance to receive fair and equal treatment and fair value compensation rather than to simply put a large number of unresolved claims finally to rest.
The worrying fact is the number of the already announced requirements which the claimants will have to face. The one year long deadline for filing claims seems to be very short especially in matters where the heirs of the rightful owners are scattered over different regions of the world, or where the families do not possess documents or a lot of factual information regarding the claim which triggers the necessity to undergo a painstaking and time consuming process of looking for the documents and information in the archives. The citizenship requirement will also present a problem for some claimants especially those who are currently abroad and while they may actually be entitled to holding of a Polish passport, they will have to undergo a certification of citizenship proceeding which will add another layer of complication to the process. It is still not certain, but the fact that not all heirs, but rather a limited circle of heirs – e.g. siblings are to be excluded – will be entitled to file the claim is more than problematic. There seems to be little justification not to include all heirs of the original owners as possible claimants.
There will be a lot of controversy surrounding the proposal of compensating the victims not in full value of the lost property, but rather in form of the equivalent of 20-25% of the value of the property. Similar values were used in order to resolve the claims for the so called Bug River property. Those cases dealt with property abandoned by Polish owners after the borders of Poland have shifted after the end of WWII. Therefore it was expected that if any legislative efforts will be made to address other claims resulting from times where Poland was ruled by the communist regime that similar proposal as to the value of the compensation will be made. The perhaps more worrying fact is that the payments will be stretched out over a longer period of time and the details as to the length of this period or whether the parties will in such instance be eligible for interest on the due payments is unknown.
2017 Corporate Intl Magazine Global Award
We are pleased to announce that Gostyński i Wspólnicy sp. k. was chosen as the winner of the 2017 Corporate Intl Magazine Global Award in two categories International Commercial Law Firm of the Year in Poland and Bankruptcy and Restructuring Law Firm of the year in Poland.
The award commemorate those who have been successful over the past 12 months and who have shown excellence not only in expertise but in service.
For us it is both a great honor as well as great motivation to carry on providing the highest standard of legal services.
Compensations of between USD 5.100,00 to USD 10.000,00 for the VW owners in the USA
Settlement offers prepared by the counsels of both sides have been presented today in the Volkswagen proceedings in the USA. The offers have been made to the owners of 2.0 litre diesel engines.
The principles of the offers are as follows:
- the creation of a fund of USD 10.033.000.000,00 by VW for the “class”, i.e. the owners who took part in the proceedings and who decide to take the settlement;
- the owners of the 2.0 litre engines will be given a choice between a repurchase of the vehicles or a cancellation of the lease agreements or a readjustment of the vehicles by VW to comply with the emission standards;
- an appropriate compensation.
Moreover, VW shall donate the amount of USD 2.700.000.000,00 to environmentalist organizations as well as the amount of USD 2.000.000.000,00 for the development of environmentally friendly automotive technology.
The repurchase shall commence in the autumn of 2016. Volkswagen will not sell any of the vehicles which do not meet the emission standards in the USA.
The compensation amount for the owners of the 2.0 litre engines shall range between USD 5.100,00 and USD 10.000,00 depending on the vehicle. The compensation shall be paid regardless of the repurchase or repair.
The Court shall give a preliminary verdict on the settlement before the 26th of July 2016.
At the same time, the American lawyers of the Parties are working on the settlement for the owners of 3.0 litre vehicles.
The American members of the Global Justice Network have been involved in the drafting of the settlement.
Global Justice Network Conference 2016 in Madrid
Between the 26th and the 28th of May, the Gostynski & Partners Law Firm has attended a GJN conference in Madrid. The main issues of the conference were the compensation claims for the owners of faulty vehicles in the Volkswagen case as well as the “CASTOR” and “NORMAN ATLANTIC” GJN projects.
The problem of the claims and entitlements of the victims of terrorist attacks and their families as well as the issue of the immigrant groups arriving in Europe were also discussed.
Volkswagen emissions scandal - USA lawsuit
Gostyński Law Firm is representing the owners of Volkswagen, Seat and Skoda
vehicles equipped with faulty diesel engines with the illegal emissions
We are involved in numerous legal actions in that matter both in Poland and
abroad. Together with fellow members of the Global Justice Network we have
decided to enter, on behalf of our Clients, the lawsuit initiated in the USA
on behalf of the European vehicle owners. The aim of the proceedings is to
order the American authorities to disclose all the information gathered
during their investigations of the matter. This data can be crucial for the
establishing the VW Group’s liability to the faulty vehicle owners.
The disclosure of the information by the Group as well as entering any
dialogue with the owners was constantly denied, therefore the legal actions
Our Clients, together with other European plaintiffs (from Spain, Italy,
Ukraine, Greece, Germany, Great Britain, Switzerland, France), who are
represented by the Attorney-at-Law Warren T. Burns of the Burns Charest LLP
Law Firm based in Dallas, Texas, have filed a motion to disclose the
information in order to use it in foreign litigation (28 U. S. C. § 1782).
New York State Bar Association conference in Cracow
Gostynski & Partners Law Firm hosted an international legal conference organized by the New York State Bar Association in Cracow between the 7th and the 9th of April. Attorney-at-Law Szymon Gostyński was the originator and Programme Chair of the conference. Representing the firm, attorney Gostyński gave a speech on the restitution of property in Poland, which was a part of the panel on the restitution of property in the Central European states.
Gostyński & Partners co-founds CLEAN – an organization uniting the owners of vehicles equipped with faulty engines
On Friday, the 26th of February 2016, CLEAN was founded in Amsterdam, Holland. The goal of the organization is to claim fair compensation for the owners of faulty diesel vehicles. The entirety of our Clients who have provided us with the power of attorney to represent them in the proceedings against Volkswagen group are already members of the organization.
The project was founded as a joint initiative by Global Justice Network, an organization associating lawyers all over the world and a Dutch Law Firm Corpocon Legal B.V.
For more information on the Project please visit:
For more information in Polish please visit the Law Firm’s fan page on Facebook and the Polish Global Justice Network blog:
Global Justice Network Spring Conference, Amsterdam 2015
Global Justice Network Spring meeting took place in Amsterdam on 23 – 25th April, 2015. Partners of Gostynski Law Group were present on the conference. Szymon Gostyński was appointed as a memper of the Board of Directors of the organisation. There were several decisions concerning work of Global Justice Network on new cases made during the meeting. These are also cases from the teritory of Poland. Updates in this matter will be soon published on our blog:
Global Justice Forum and Global Justice Network, New York, 2014
On the 17th and 18th of April 2014, the Szymon Gostyński Law Firm attended the Global Justice Forum conference and Global Justice Network meeting held in New York. One of the topics of the discussion, referred by our Firm, was the Piper Navajo plane crash near Częstochowa.
Cemfjord ship crash
Our lawyers are working jointly with the Global Justice Network team on identifying the party responsible for the Cemfjord ship crash (most of the crew were Polish nationals). For more information, please visit : http://globaljusticenetworkpl.blog.pl