It is governed by the Constitution (Articles 118-124) and the Rules of Procedure of Parliament (the Sejm) and the Senate. The right to initiate legislation lies with the Cabinet, a group comprising at least 15 Members of Parliament, the Senate, the President of the Republic and a group comprising at least 100,000 citizens. Bills are submitted to the Sejm, where they are dealt with in three readings. In the course of this process the Sejm examines the bill and transmits it to the appropriate parliamentary committees for amendment. The bill is then returned to the Sejm, which votes on the amendments and the bill as a whole.
The Sejm approves the bill by a simple majority, subject to at least half of the statutory number of Members being present. Once it has been passed by the Sejm, the bill is transmitted to the Senate, which has one month in which to adopt it without amendment, amend it or throw it out. If a bill is amended or thrown out by the Senate, it must be re-examined by the Sejm. In this case the Sejm needs an absolute majority, subject to at least half of the statutory number of Members being present, in order to override a recommendation by the Senate.
If Parliament completes the legislative process, the bill is transmitted to the President, who should sign it within three weeks and order its publication in the Journal of Laws. Before signing a bill, the President can refer it to the Constitutional Court for constitutional review. If the Constitutional Court deems the bill to be compatible with the Constitution, the President may not refuse to sign it. The President also has the option of not referring a bill to the Constitutional Court but returning it to the Sejm for a further reading (“presidential veto”).
However, the Sejm may reject a presidential veto by a majority of 3/5, subject to at least half of the statutory number of Members being present. If the bill is once again adopted by the Sejm, the President has one week in which to sign it and order its publication.
Regulations are issued by the bodies indicated in the Constitution by virtue of a detailed authorisation enshrined in an Act with a view to its implementation. The authorisation should designate the body empowered to issue the regulation, the scope of the matters to be regulated and guidelines on the contents of the Act (Article 92 of the Constitution). The following bodies are empowered by the Constitution to issue regulations: The President, the Cabinet, the Chairman of the Cabinet, the Minister responsible for the government administration, the committee chairman appointed by the Cabinet and the National Radio and Television Broadcasting Council. The body designated to issue the regulation may not transfer that authorisation to another body. The purpose of a regulation is to implement an Act and as such, it cannot be either incompatible with the Act or go beyond the scope of the delegated powers.
Regulations are subject to checks by the courts. For that reason, they can be disputed by the Constitutional Court and also by a judicial or administrative tribunal. If a court rules in a specific set of proceedings that a regulation or the provisions thereof infringe higher legislation (i.e. an Act), it may refrain from applying it in the case in question and treat it as null and void.
Enactments of internal law (e.g. Orders) are internal in nature and are binding only on the organisational entities subordinate to the body issuing such enactments (Article 93 of the Constitution). Examples of enactments of internal law include cabinet ordinances and orders issued by the President and Ministers. Orders may be issued only on the basis of an Act. They cannot form the basis of a decision concerning citizens, legal persons or other entities.
Enactments of local law are issued by local government bodies (e.g. municipal resolutions) and central government administrative bodies on the basis and within the scope of authorisations laid down in an Act (e.g. provinces’ implementing regulations and orders (Article 94 of the Constitution). These enactments are binding only within the jurisdiction of the bodies which issue them but, in view of their universally binding nature, they may be addressed to all entities and establish their rights and obligations.
Case-law does not constitute a source of law in Poland. Under Article 178(1) of the Constitution, judges in Poland are subordinate only to the Constitution, Acts, and international agreements ratified with prior consent enshrined in an Act. This means that the courts are duty bound to apply the Constitution, Acts and the aforementioned international agreements.
The courts cannot refuse to apply these normative acts on the grounds that they are unconstitutional. However, pursuant to Article 193 of the Constitution, they may address a legal question to the Constitutional Court regarding the compatibility of a given normative act with the Constitution, ratified international agreements or Acts if the outcome of a case pending before the courts hangs on the answer to that legal question. However, judges are not bound by enactments which are subordinate to Acts, such as regulations and, when examining a given case, may determine, on an independent basis, whether such enactments are compatible with Acts and with the Constitution. Should an enactment be found to be incompatible, the court may refuse to apply it and disregard it when handing down a ruling. However, case-law and, in particular, the case-law of the Supreme Court, plays a crucial role in interpretations of statute by the courts.