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The article deals with the judicial decisions of the Constitutional Tribunal concerning taxes and other public burdens in 2009-2011. In this period, there was a particular intensification of judicial activity of the Tribunal, leading to both the development of a consistent line of its jurisprudence and establishing new rules and principles related – directly or indirectly - to public burdens, derived from the provisions of the Constitution. The first part of the article describes basic substantive principles (i.e. universality and equality) of taxation. Their constitutional status seems to be well-established, and the principles themselves form a permanent constitutional standard of Polish taxation solutions. Another important aspect of the Tribunal’s jurisprudence subjected to analysis, are the substantive rules governing imposition of burdens, making up the widely understood principles of good legislation. The Tribunal’s judgments allow us to make some propositions concerning the principles of interpreting legislation on public burdens, and, particularly, prohibition against widening interpretation. In the second part of the article the author examines the current content of the principle of exclusive competence of the legislator, as well as the formal requirements resulting from it that must be fulfilled by tax regulations. The article also contains an extensive review of Tribunal jurisprudence concerning constitutional complaints. Moreover, the author makes an attempt to determine whether it is possible to apply this instrument for protection of rights and freedoms based on the subjective rights of taxpayer.
While adjudicating, the Constitutional Tribunal is bound by the limits of the application, question of law or complaint. This principle, together with the principle of accusatorial procedure, determines the extent of the cognizance of the Constitutional Tribunal. The jurisprudence of the Tribunal shows that it is relatively free in interpreting 'the limits of the application'. Sometimes the Tribunal goes beyond the claim of the applicant (ne ultra petitum), or discontinues the proceedings in relation to part of the claim specified in 'petitum', even if the conditions for this (the pronouncement of a judicial decision is inadmissible or the normative act has ceased to have effect) have not been met. The extension of the limits of application beyond that specified in 'petitum' is reflected by the recognition by the Tribunal of the 'falsa demonstratio non nocet principle' and by the ex officio review of the provision specified in the application from the formal-legal point of view. The review of legality of part of the claim specified in the application takes place when the Tribunal has discontinued the proceedings due to uselessness of the pronouncement of a judicial decision where it held that the subject of the claim does not conform with one of several indicated patterns of review. In such event, the Tribunal's proceedings relate to the conformity of the provision under review with the other patterns indicated in the application. This article presents most important decisions of the Constitutional Tribunal concerning the interpretation of the principle of that the Tribunal is bound by the limits of the application. The examples of the use of systematic and functional interpretation of the above-mentioned principle have no distinct normative basis in Poland's Constitution or the Constitutional Tribunal Act and result from the judicial practice of the Tribunal. As concerns each element of the principle of binding limits of adjudication as described in this article, a relatively established line of Tribunal's jurisprudence may be noticed. Moreover, in principal reasons for its rulings the Tribunal usually presents arguments for extension or limitation of the scope of adjudicated matter in relation to the claim specified in 'petitum' of the application. The to date interpretation of the above-mentioned principle does not threaten the principle of accusatorial procedure before the Constitutional Tribunal. Some doubts may, however, be raised about Tribunal's discretion in the application of the described rules enabling limitation or extension of the scope of review in particular cases.
The Constitutional Tribunal invokes the Introduction to the Constitution both on its own initiative and when the entities initiating proceedings before the Tribunal indicate it (i.e. the Introduction) as a basis for review of the constitutionality of the challenged provisions. Under the established practice, the Constitutional Tribunal has most often invoked those phrases of the Introduction of the Constitution which deal with: the principle of subsidiarity, the obligation of solidarity with others, experiences of the times when fundamental freedoms and human rights were violated in our Homeland, cooperation between the public powers, social dialogue, diligence and efficiency in the work of public bodies, the inherent dignity of the person, cooperation with all countries for the good of the Human Family, as well as universal values, such as truth and justice. The jurisprudence of the Constitutional Tribunal does not give an unequivocal assessment of the Introduction to the Constitution. On the one hand, the Tribunal holds that one may not derive any legal norms stricto sensu on the basis of the text of the Introduction. On the other hand, it refers to the preamble in the operative part of its judgments. The analysis of Tribunal's jurisprudence allows us to say that the Tribunal acknowledges as legal norms of their elements at least two phrases of the preamble - 'to ensure diligence and efficiency in the work of public bodies' and 'cooperation between the public powers, social dialogue as well as on the principle of subsidiarity'. The Constitutional Tribunal most often invokes the Introduction to the Constitution when justifying particular interpretation of the provisions of the Constitution, of the challenged provisions or the interpretation of the decision itself. Such use of the preamble to the Constitution raises no controversy and fully corresponds to the function attributed to preambles of normative acts as texts specifying axiologic foundations of legal regulations.
The article deals with selected issues concerning the organization and competence of the Tribunals and their role in the system of government in Poland, i.e. the Constitutional Tribunal and the Tribunal of State (Impeachment Court). The author presents basic foundations of the Constitution of 1997 as well as further legislative changes. The first part of the article discusses the matters concerning the Constitutional Tribunal, particularly the alarming phenomenon which is the undermining of the authority of the Tribunal, especially by politicians. The author reveals the proposals aimed at separation of the procedure for election of the judges of the Constitutional Tribunal from current political disputes, as well as the reforms of the functioning of the Tribunal. He points out the defects of existing regulations concerning constitutional complaints and the procedures for settling disputes of competence. He also examines the scope of jurisdiction of the Constitutional Tribunal, including the assessment of the procedure of taking effect by the normative act within the abstract review of norms. Moreover, he shows the complications resulting from constitutional limitation of the competence of the Tribunal and the effect of its judgments. The second part deals with the problems relating to an institutional shape of the Tribunal of State. He pointed out the inconsistence of Poland's regulations on adjudicating in matters of offences with the provisions of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. He also presents some proposals for changes in the procedures of the exercise of constitutional accountability in Poland.
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