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Cases concerning social-insurance and old-age benefits – rates for the services of advocates SK 25/15

Ref. No. SK 25/15

JUDGMENT
IN THE NAME OF THE REPUBLIC OF POLAND

Warsaw, 27 February 2018

The Constitutional Tribunal, in a bench composed of:

Stanisław Rymar – Presiding Judge
Sławomira Wronkowska-Jaśkiewicz
Andrzej Zielonacki – Judge Rapporteur,

having considered, at a sitting in camera on 27 February 2018 – in accordance with Article 92(1)(1) of the Act of 30 November 2016 on the Organisation of the Constitutional Tribunal and the Mode of Proceedings Before the Constitutional Tribunal (Journal of Laws – Dz. U. item 2072) – a constitutional complaint lodged by Mr T. M. with the Tribunal to review the conformity of:

§ 12(2) of the Regulation of 28 September 2002 issued by the Minister of Justice as regards rates for the services of advocates as well as the State Treasury’s payment of the costs of unpaid court-appointed legal representation (Journal of Laws – Dz. U. of 2013 item 461):

a) insofar as this provision states that the minimum rate for the services of advocates is PLN 60 in cases concerning social-insurance and old-age benefits, without guaranteeing that a winning party will be reimbursed for the legal costs it has actually incurred, thus restricting the right to a fair trial and infringing the right to a proper court procedure devised in compliance with the requirements of fairness and openness, as well as violating the principle of equality of arms, since it burdens a party opposing the Social Insurance Institution with the payment of virtually all the costs of legal representation, even in the case of winning the dispute, to Article 45(1) and Article 2 in conjunction with Article 32(1) in conjunction with Article 31(3) as well as Article 92(1), first sentence, of the Constitution of the Republic of Poland and Article 16(1)-(3) of the Act of 26 May 1982 – the Law on Advocates (Journal of Laws – Dz. U. of 2014 item 635, as amended; hereinafter: the Act on Advocates), as well as to Article 64(1) and (2) in conjunction with Article 64(3) and Article 31(3) of the Constitution;

b) insofar as this provision states that the minimum rate for the services of advocates is PLN 60 in cases concerning social-insurance and old-age benefits, which is not adequate to the amount of work performed and the degree of complexity of a given case in terms of its facts and legal aspects, and hence the said rate is inadequate to actual market rates for legal services, which results in burdening a party winning a trial with the obligation to cover the actual costs of legal representation appointed by the Social Insurance Institution (being a losing party), to Article 64(1) and (2) in conjunction with Article 64(3) and Article 31(3) as well as Article 92(1), first sentence, of the Constitution and Article 16(1)-(3) of the Act on Advocates;

adjudicates as follows:

§ 12(2) of the Regulation of 28 September 2002 issued by the Minister of Justice as regards rates for the services of advocates as well as the State Treasury’s payment of the costs of unpaid court-appointed legal representation (Journal of Laws – Dz. U. of 2013 item 461, as well as of 2015, items 616 and 1079), in the version that was binding until 31 July 2015:

a) is consistent with Article 45(1) in conjunction with Article 31(3) of the Constitution of the Republic of Poland;

b) is inconsistent with Article 64(2) in conjunction with Article 31(3) of the Constitution.

Moreover, the Tribunal decides:

pursuant to Article 59(1)(2) of the Act of 30 November 2016 on the Organisation of the Constitutional Tribunal and the Mode of Proceedings Before the Constitutional Tribunal (Journal of Laws – Dz. U., item 2072), to discontinue the proceedings as to the remainder.

 

The ruling was unanimous.

Stanisław Rymar
Sławomira Wronkowska-Jaśkiewicz
Andrzej Zielonacki