Law in the Polish Republic

The Law on Polish Territory During Partitions


After the partition of Poland, Prussia and Austria immediately introduced their administrative institutions and laws into the acquired territories. Austria, which between the end of the century. XVIII and the beginning of the century. XIX was proceeding with the codification of his law, he often used to test the new codes first of all on Polish territory (in Galicia). Russia, on the other hand, introduced few changes, and kept the third Lithuanian statute of the year 1588 in force until 1840, consisting mainly of Polish law. During this period, however, three states arose on Polish lands, having a Polish character, namely: the Duchy of Warsaw (1807-1815), the Kingdom of Poland known as the Congress (1815-1831) and the Free City of Krakow (1815-1846). The latter state however, limited to the city of Krakow and its surroundings, governed by a constitution imposed on it by the three dividing countries and entrusted to their protection, it did not have great importance for the development of law. The duchy of Warsaw was founded by Napoleon and endowed by him with a constitution, modeled on the other constitutions that arose under his influence; it was closer to the constitution of the kingdom of Westphalia in 1807. A characteristic sign of this was the fact of its approach to the principle of liberty and equality before the law; the parliamentary institutions, in terms of their form, were based on Polish models, but the diet had only a very limited field of action (budget, laws used in the courts). The organization of administration was strictly modeled on the French one (division into departments and districts, with prefects and sub-prefects at the head, the council of state, as an organ with the task of preparing draft laws, and also as a court of cassation, administrative and jurisdiction). In matters of civil law the Napoleon code of 1804 was introduced in 1808, later also the French commercial code and the French procedure; even the courts were organized on the French model. later also the French commercial code and the French procedure; even the courts were organized on the French model. later also the French commercial code and the French procedure; even the courts were organized on the French model.

The Congress of Vienna in 1815 transformed the Duchy of Warsaw, after having somewhat reduced its borders, into the Kingdom of Poland, offered to Alexander I, who in the same year endowed it with a constitution. This constitution, similar to that of the Duchy of Warsaw, was nevertheless more liberal; it recognized some civic rights, greatly expanded the competence of the diet; the organization of the administrative authorities was established on the principle of collegiality. The French civil laws, introduced during the existence of the Duchy of Warsaw, remained in the courts; but instead of the first book of the Napoleonic code, a new one was published (the so-called Polish code of the year 1825); in 1818 the penal code was published. The kingdom of Poland, after the insurrection of 1830, lost its autonomy, becoming a Russian province; the constitution was abolished and with it the diet; however, special administrative institutions remained, abolished only in the years following the uprising of 1863 – and mainly in the year 1867; in 1876 the organization of the courts was replaced by a new organization on the Russian model; in the same year the Russian civil and criminal procedure was also introduced, as well as Russian criminal law; the Napoleon code and the French commercial code, however, remained in force until the day of the reconstitution of Poland. For Poland 2002, please check

Law in the Polish Republic (1918-1934). – The first diet after the reconstitution of Poland convened by Piłsudski for February 2, 1919, proclaimed on February 20 the so-called “small constitution”, containing the most important provisional principles of state organization. The complete constitution was proclaimed on March 17, 1921: it introduced the democratic regime, which guaranteed legislation, as well as the direction of activity and the state to the diet and the senate, with a prevalence of the diet; the members of the two chambers were elected on the broadest bases, the office of president was limited almost exclusively to representative functions. A change in the constitution took place only after Piłsudski’s coup d’état (May 13, 1926): the law of August 2, 1926 marks the date of this change.

On the territory of the state the laws continued to be in force, left by the invading states. Immediately, therefore, work was undertaken for the unification of the law. Between the years 1919-1920 a single organization of administrative authorities was introduced, in 1933 the autonomous organization of cities and villages was unified. Administrative law and the tax system were also unified with a series of laws. In order to unify the rights in use in the courts, a special codifying commission was established. In 1925 the new code on bills came into force, in 1929 the new penal process, in 1932 the penal code, in 1933 the new civil process, in July 1934 the commercial code and the code on obligations.

Law in the Polish Republic