On 11 October the representatives of the Polish government presented the draft law aimed at resolving restitution issues in Poland, including the Warsaw properties. The draft, called the “Big Reprivatisation Statute”, would apply to the restitution of properties in Poland as a whole (contrary to the 2016 “Small Reprivatisation Statute”, which concerned only restitution of Warsaw properties) and would try to remedy the difficult situation of Warsaw properties in the context of the so called “reprivatisation scandal” which broke out in June 2016.
The draft law has not been presented to the public yet – it is expected to happen soon. During the press conference the following basic points were disclosed:
- Return of the confiscated real property to rightful heirs will not be possible any longer; the applicants can be awarded only with compensation for the lost property.
- Compensation will be limited to 20-25% of the value of the property at the time of the takeover by the Polish state.
- Only the former owners or their closest heirs (spouses, children, grandchildren etc.) – natural persons – can apply for the compensation; no legal persons or curators for the deceased will be allowed to do so.
- There will be only a 1 year window to file applications for the compensation in accordance with the new law.
- The restitution cases which are completed can be resumed and decided again if there was a violation of law.
- The restitution cases which are not completed at the time the law enters into force will be discontinued and decided in accordance with the new law.
- The 1945 Warsaw Land Decree (the so-called ‘Bierut Decree’) will be repealed.
The draft will be subject to consultations and changes during the legislative process and it may take months before it enters into force. In the past, similar projects have never passed the Parliament.
It is too early to say what will happen now and how quickly, if at all, the draft law is passed. However, it is necessary to take caution on the projected amendments as most probably they would have effect on all the current and future restitution proceedings.
The new law, if adopted, for sure will have a huge impact on the current and future restitution cases by limiting the amount of compensation, the timeframe for applications and the scope of potential applicants.
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