Humanities and Social Sciences

Polish Yearbook of International Law


Polish Yearbook of International Law | 2018 | No XXXVIII |


As many as three international disputes containing allegations of infringement of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms Racial Discrimination (ICERD) have been brought before the International Court of Justice (ICJ), thus contributing to the number of cases allowing the Court to pronounce itself on the international human rights law. Even though none of the cases invoking violations of ICERD has been (yet) adjudicated on the merits, they have already provided an opportunity to clarify (at least in part) the compromissory clause enshrined in Art. 22 of ICERD, as well as to tackle some other issues related to provisional measures ordered by the Court. This article discusses the ICJ’s approaches to the application of ICERD in the three above-mentioned cases, while posing the question whether indeed the 1965 Convention can be useful as a tool for settling inter-state disputes. The author claims that ICERD and the broad definition of “racial discrimination” set out in its Art. 1 constitute cornerstones for the international protection of human rights, though the recourse to the procedures provided in Art. 22 of ICERD – vital as they are – should not necessarily be perceived as a better alternative to the inter-state procedures and the functions exercised by the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD).

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This article analyses the capacity of the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance to counteract the democratic governance shortfall. It argues that the tangible impact of the treaty on the states’ practice has been limited by various endogenous and exogenous factors. The former are identified as directly linked to content of the document and refer to the accuracy of the drafting. The latter are rooted outside the text and beyond the character of the Charter and include issues relating to the states’ reluctance to ratify the document, certain constitutional constraints undermining implementation on the national level, and the weak international guarantees of enforcement.

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Given the whole spectrum of doubts and controversies that arise in discussions about laws affecting historical memory (and their subcategory of memory laws), the question of assessing them in the context of international standards of human rights protection – and in particular the European system of human rights protection – is often overlooked. Thus this article focuses on the implications and conditions for introducing memory laws in light of international human rights standards using selected examples of various types of recently-adopted Polish memory laws as case studies. The authors begin with a brief description of the phenomenon of memory laws and the most significant threats that they pose to the protection of international human rights standards. The following sections analyse selected Polish laws affecting historical memory vis-à-vis these standards. The analysis covers non-binding declaratory laws affecting historical memory, and acts that include criminal law sanctions. The article attempts to sketch the circumstances linking laws affecting historical memory with the human rights protection standards, including those entailed both in binding treaties and other instruments of international law.

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This article critically evaluates the summary procedure introduced by Protocol No. 14 to the European Convention on Human Rights, adopted within the reform of the European Court of Human Rights system. The summary procedure, now set out in Art. 28(1)b of the Convention, was instituted in order to facilitate expediency and to reduce the case load of the Court. This article argues that while judicial economy is a legitimate goal, the summary procedure under Art. 28(1)b has considerable deficiencies that undermine some of the systemic goals and core values of ECHR law. There is a manifest lack of remedies vis-à-vis the choice of the procedure, choice of applicable law, and no appeals against final decisions rendered in the course of the summary procedure. Notably, the concept of “well-established case-law” seems to be neither clear nor reliable, as evidenced in the cases analysed in the article. These cases, which involve the issue of socially- owned property in Serbia, serve to demonstrate some of the significant errors in interpretation and decision-making which can result from application of the summary procedure.

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This article is an attempt to identify the essence of new positivism, described by Ludwik Ehrlich as a method of interpretation of international law. The evolution of his views on international law is examined with respect to the place of this method from the beginning of 1920s until his retirement in 1961. The article expounds on both the theoretical and methodological aspects of new positivism, according to which judicial decisions should be taken into account in addition to international treaties and customs for the determination of international law. The question of the obligatory force of international law is discussed as being related to the principle of good faith, which is at the core of Ehrlich’s views on international law. The article offers suggestions on how the method of new positivism might be used and what tasks it can fulfil today. It also makes an attempt to critically analyse Ehrlich’s method and to characterize it both in general and in the context of the theory of international law.

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The idea of a Multilateral Investment Court seems to be one of the most prominent initiatives of the “multilateralization” of international investment law during this century. The creation of a new international, permanent court concentrated on settling investor – state disputes is an extraordinary challenge. Possible problems relate not only to the negotiations concerning the organizational and procedural aspects necessary to ensure the efficient operation of this type of body. It is also necessary to take into account the dynamics of the functioning of international adjudication as such, as well as the controversies surrounding the international legal protection of foreign investments.

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This article explores investment protection under Chinese international investment agreements (IIAs), particularly under the China-Poland bilateral investment treaty (BIT). As a state that both imports and exports foreign direct investment, China currently promotes balanced and safeguarded BITs that protect its increasing overseas investments and preserves the necessary space to regulate in the public interest. The Chinese government remains reluctant to be directly involved in investment arbitration as a respondent, while Chinese investors are active in taking advantage of the IIAs’ regime. When compared to China’s recent treaty practice and new developments in global investment governance, the China-Poland BIT is relatively outdated in terms of investment protection, promotion, social clauses, and dispute settlement. In terms of the investment protection effects of BITs, China is seemingly in a more urgent position to update the China-Poland BIT. However, if we evaluate the overall effects of a modernized BIT on investment promotion, regulation, and dispute settlement, an updated China-Poland BIT will fit the interests of both the Polish and Chinese governments. Notwithstanding the on-going negotiation between the EU and China, this article aims, along with presenting the Chinese practice regarding BITs, to describe de lege lata the state of protection offered to Chinese and Polish investors under the China-Poland BIT.

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This article contributes to the growing literature on Art. 7 TEU by showcasing the strong and weak points of this provision in the context of the on-going rule of law backsliding in Hungary and Poland – backsliding which threatens the very fabric of EU constitutionalism. The article presents the general context of the EU’s institutional reactions to the so-called “reforms” in Poland and Hungary, which are aimed at hijacking the state machinery by the political parties in charge. Next it introduces the background of Art. 7 TEU and the hopes the provision was endowed with by its drafters before moving on to analysis of its scope and all the mechanisms made available through this instrument, including the key procedural rules governing their use. The author posits that it may be necessary to put our hopes in alternative instruments and policies to combat the current rule of law backsliding, and the article concludes by outlining three possible scenarios to reverse the backsliding, none of which are (necessarily) connected with Art. 7 as such.

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This article concerns constitutional problems related to the implementation of EU directives seen from both the legal and comparative perspectives. The directives are a source of law which share a number of characteristic features that significantly affect and determine the specificity of Member States’ constitutional review of the directives as well as the legal acts that implement them. The review of the constitutionality of EU directives is carried out in accordance with the provisions of national implementing acts. Member States’ constitutional courts adopt two basic positions in this respect. The first position (adopted by, inter alia, the French Constitutional Council and German Federal Constitutional Court) is based on the assumption of a partial “constitutional immunity” of the act implementing the directive, which results in only a partial control of the constitutionality of the implementing acts, i.e. the acts of national law implementing such directives. The second position, (adopted, explicitly or implicitly by, inter alia, the Austrian Federal Constitutional Court, Czech Constitutional Court, Polish Constitutional Court, Romanian Constitutional Court and Slovak Constitutional Court) concerns the admissibility of a full review of the implementing acts. This leads to the admissibility of an indirect review of the content of the directive if the Court examines the provision as identical in terms of content with an act of EU law. Another issue is related to the application of the EU directives as indirect yardsticks of review. The French Constitutional Council case-law on review of the proper implementation of EU directives represents the canon in this regard. Nonetheless, interesting case studies of further uses of EU directives as indirect yardsticks of review can be found in the case law of other constitutional courts, such as the Belgian Constitutional Court or Spanish Constitutional Court. The research presented in this paper is based on the comparative method. The scope of the analysis covers case law of the constitutional courts of both old and new Member States. It also includes a presentation of recent jurisprudential developments, focusing on the constitutional case-law regarding the Data Retention Directive and the Directive on Combating Terrorism.

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In EU law a lot of attention has recently been paid to personal data protection standards. In parallel to the development of the general EU rules on data protection, the Members States also develop cooperation between law enforcement agencies and create new information exchange possibilities, including the processing of personal data of participants in criminal proceedings. The aim of this article is to analyse whether the personal data of victims of crime are safeguarded according to the standards of the Charter of Fundamental Rights. For this purpose, the author analyses two directives: 2012/29/EU, which regulates minimum standards of victims of crime; and 2016/680/EU (also known as the Law Enforcement Directive), which regulates personal data processing for the purpose of combating crime. Based on the example of the Polish legislation implementing both directives, the author comes to the conclusion that the EU legislation is not fully coherent and leaves too much margin of appreciation to the national legislator. This results in a failure to achieve the basic goals of both directives. The author expects the necessary reflection not only from the national legislator, but also from the European Commission, which should check the correctness of the implementation of the directives, as well as from national courts, which should use all possible measures to ensure that the national law is interpreted in the light of the objectives of the directives.

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The article provides an overview of the supranational bank resolution regime established under the Single Resolution Mechanism framework. Both the substantive rules governing the resolution process and its procedural requirements are explained. The main focus of the article is the decision-making practice of the Single Resolution Board (SRB), an EU agency responsible for the execution of the resolution framework, which has already intervened in a number of cases in which banks were considered “failing or likely to fail” by the European Central Bank. The article analyses the existing decisions on resolution action in order to establish how the substantive rules on resolution are interpreted by the SRB in its decision-making practice.

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The “plain and intelligible language” requirement performs a dual function within the framework of Council Directive 93/13/EEC of 5 April 1993 on unfair terms in consumer contracts. First, it is listed as a requirement for application of the exemption included in Art. 4(2) as regards policing terms relating to the main subject matter of the contract or to the adequacy of the price and remuneration. Second, the “plain and intelligible language” requirement is a general requirement addressed at all consumer contracts executed in writing (Art. 5). This paper examines the boundaries of the precept, and places particular emphasis on the recent developments in both EU and Polish law, where the requirement has been used to imply a host of information duties aimed at enhancing consumers’ capacity to foresee the consequences of the terms that they are assenting to. This apparently novel approach, which has been developing in piecemeal fashion in the CJEU’s ever-expanding case law, may trigger significant consequences in the field of consumer contract law. In some ways, expansion of the substantive scope of the requirement may be said to be motivated by the fact that courts, under Art. 4(2) of Directive 93/13, are unable to subject the adequacy of the price and remuneration against the services or supply of goods received in exchange to the substantive fairness test under Art. 3(1) (examination of terms through the prism of the notions of good faith and significant imbalance in the parties’ rights and obligations to the detriment of the consumer).

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This article focuses on mobility of companies in the European Union in the light of the Court of Justice’s judgment in the C-106/16 Polbud – Wykonawstwo sp. z o.o. case. The Court of Justice has once again interpreted the treaty provisions relating to the EU freedom of establishment in the context of cross-border conversion of companies. The in-depth analysis of the case from the substantive law perspective as well as from the conflict-of-law perspective has raised some doubts with regard to the background of the judgment. Therefore, the article assesses whether the cross-border transfer of a seat took place in the Polbud case or the cross-border conversion, or possibly a new company has come into existence. Most of the analysis is aimed at exposing the risks related to the companies’ mobility under the rules adopted in the Polbud judgment, in particular in the absence of respective European and national regulation.

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Board of Editors
Władysław Czapliński (Editor-in-Chief)
Jan Barcz (Member)
Anna Wyrozumska (Member)
Karolina Wierczyńska (Specialist editor)
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Language editor
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Louis Malmond
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Andrzej Mączyński
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