Limitations of business activity in Poland

Freedom of conducting business activity

In accordance with Article 3 of the Polish Act – “the Entrepreneur Law” the business activity in Poland is organised and commercial activity, performed on own behalf and on a continuous basis. The fundamental principle in Polish commercial law is the freedom to conducting business activities. This principle was expressed in Article 2 of “the Entrepreneur Law”. According to this rule undertaking, performing and terminating a business activity is free for everyone on equal rights.

Therefore, everyone may freely decide whether they want to start and run a company in Poland. Restrictions on this freedom can only result from explicit legal provisions. The Polish authorities cannot limit anyone’s freedom without a clear legal basis. It is forbidden to impose restrictions not expressly provided for in the regulations on Polish entrepreneurs. Any action that affects the freedom of economic activity must have a clear legal grounds.

The principle of freedom of conducting business activity is also based in the provisions of the Constitution of the Republic of Poland. According to Article 22 of the Polish Constitution, restriction of the freedom of business activity is permissible only by statute and only because of an important public interest. Therefore, this principle covers in essence the freedom to choose the type of economic activity and freedom to perform (and cease to perform) chosen business activities. Anyone interested can therefore take any actions to initiate and conduct business activity, provided that they do not conflict with applicable legal regulations, decency, legitimate consumer interests and the principles of fair competition.

On the other hand, the principle of equality means that Polish entrepreneurs should be treated equally in the sphere of taking up, pursuit and termination of economic activity, and therefore according to the same measure, without any differentiation, whether favoring or discriminating. This equality of entrepreneurs concerns, among others their access to regulated economic activity and to state funds supporting entrepreneurs. Therefore, the Polish authorities must treat every entrepreneur in the same way as other entities in a similar situation. Therefore, the prohibition of discrimination against entrepreneurs means that all entrepreneurs who are in the same situation should be treated the same.

"Everything which is not forbidden is allowed"

The freedom of conducting business activity in Poland is closely linked to the principle “which is not prohibited by law, is allowed”. This principle was expressed primarily in Article 8 of  “the Entrepreneur Law” of Polish Entrepreneurs Law:

An entrepreneur may take any actions except for those that are prohibited by legal provisions. An entrepreneur may be obliged to behave in a specific way only on the basis of legal provisions.

This provision confirms that the Polish entrepreneur may take all actions, except those prohibited by law. The entrepreneur may be required to perform specific behavior only on the basis of legal provisions. The entrepreneur is therefore free to operate in an area that is not prohibited by law. There is no obligation to act, unless it results from a specific legal provision. This means a prohibition on restricting the entrepreneur’s freedom of action if there is no legal basis, and the inability to force the entrepreneur to specific behavior if there is no legal basis for it.

Limitation of business activity in Poland

As it was underlined before, the Constitution of the Republic of Poland itself allows in Article 22 the possibility of restricting the freedom of economic activity. The limitations of conducting business in Poland may only be imposed by statute and only for important public reasons. An important public interest is in particular the protection of life and health, safety and environmental protection. It is this state interference in the freedom of economic activity that constitutes the “regulated” economic activity. The conditions which the entrepreneur needs to satisfy are usually linked to a specific type of activity and its object.

The provisions of law specify in detail the type of activities subject to regulation. Performing regulated business activity is connected to obtaining approval from Polish authorities. This approval may be acquired  in 3 different procedures. Depending on the scope of business activity this approval may the form of

  1. a concession;
  2. a permission;
  3. an entry in the specific register.

Concession in Poland is mandatory in particular in regard of following scope of business activity:

  1. protection of persons and property, i.e. security agency;
  2. casinos;
  3. airlines;
  4. production and trade of explosives, weapons, ammunition, products for military and police purposes

Permission to conduct specific business activity in Poland is required with respect to following scope of business activity:

  1. wholesale and retail sale of alcoholic beverages
  2. operating in the field of games of chance
  3. protection against homeless animals, running shelters for homeless animals
  4. manufacturing and marketing of medicinal products, running public pharmacies, pharmaceutical wholesalers
  5. running a number of financial activities;

Entry to register of professional business activity in Poland is required in regard of:

  1. detective services;
  2. conducting medical practice;
  3. production and bottling of wine products, production or bottling of spirit drinks;
  4. running a vehicle control station;
  5. organizing tourist events;
  6. exchange office;
  7. employment agency

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