Zbigniew Ziobro, the Justice Minister has proposed changes in the penal code aimed at speeding up trials in Polish courts.
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Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday 12 September the justice minister revealed details of changes in the penal code which have been prepared by his ministry. According to the minister the changes are aimed at speeding up trials and stopping their obstruction.
“Justice must be impartial but it should not be grotesque" said Mr Ziobro.
The justice minister cited examples of absurdities such as a judge having to read a sentence in court for 14 hours as all judgements are required to be read out in full and the fact that in cases involving a multitude of victims all of them have to be questioned. This meant that in cases of mass scams on the internet all those affected have to be questioned, leading to lengthening of the legal process. “Such formalities shall be dispensed with.”
The changes will lead “courts out of the theatre of the absurd”. Another example of the simplifying procedures which the minister gave was that stopping witnesses, or defendants, from delaying trials by issuing “false” medical certificates. Judges will be able to rule that the trial should continue despite the absence of a witness.
The justice ministry is also introducing a simple system for registering sentences handed down based on a set format. This, according to the ministry, should reduce the amount of paper issued. Judges will also not be obliged to present all documents relating to a case.
There will also be reform of the appeals procedure. New witnesses will only be allowed if the plaintiff can prove that they could not have been called at the original trial. Appeals courts will also have the power to increase penalties beyond the level originally sentenced.
Individuals will not have to be served legal notices in person. Notices will be considered to have been served by placing them in an authorised post box. Disabled people will be able to appoint plenipotentiaries to collect their court mail at a post office.
source: Interia.pl, PAP
These are all practical steps which should reduce the length of court cases. They should be welcome by both lawyers and citizens alike.
There has been much controversy surrounding legislative appointments. No such controversy should surround these changes.
Courts are often criticised by the public for the way they proceed. These reforms are a small step on the way of rectifying these ills.