The Supreme Court is the cassation court. It is located in Warsaw. The court handles cassations, i.e. appeals from sentences or decisions of courts of second instance. The Supreme Court does not consider the cases but examines whether the judicial decisions of civil and military courts are compliant with the law. Cassation appeals cannot be filed in all cases. Cassations must be filed by a barrister or a counsellor at law.
The courts of appeals, regional and district courts. They handle the following cases: civil, family, minors, labour, social security, commercial, bankruptcy and criminal, including misconduct, and penitentiary; they also keep land registers and records.
Common courts consist of two instances:
Courts of 1st instance:
- district court (including Municipal court)
- regional court
Courts of 2nd instance:
- regional court
- court of appeals
Regional courts are the courts of first instance only in certain case categories. They are also the appellate courts (courts of second instance) for decisions of district courts.
Courts of 2nd instance (appellate) handle the appealed cases and can:
- Uphold the appealed decision – it means that the appealed decision remains in force;
- Amend the appealed decision – it means that a new decision is issued in the case;
- Revoke the decision and remand the case to re-examination by the court of first instance – it means that the case will be examined again.
Most often, the competent court for civil cases is the court of proper venue serving the address of the defendant, and in criminal and misconduct cases – court of proper venue for the place of prohibited act (crime or misconduct). In order to start the proceedings, we must submit at court (at the day-book office), or send by register mail, a written statement with enclosures (copies of documents, supportive evidence). Depending on the nature of the case, it will be handled by the district or regional court in the first instance.
There are 315 district courts in Poland. They are located in larger cities. In case of main cities, a regional court can be established for one or several districts of the city – e.g. in Krakow, Łódz, Warsaw and Wrocław. District courts are the judicial units closest to the citizens. They handle all cases, except cases reserved for the regional court. In most district courts there are municipal divisions (also known as municipal courts). There are 380 of municipal divisions countrywide. They handle minor civil and criminal cases, including misconduct.
There are 45 regional courts in Poland. They are located in all major cities. Regional courts handle appeals (from decisions of district courts, thus they function as courts of 2nd instance (appellate). They also handle certain serious cases (e.g. high claim value, serious crimes, etc.) and then function as courts of 1st instance.
Court of Appeals
There are 11 courts of appeals in Poland. They are located in major cities: Bialystok, Gdansk, Katowice, Kraków, Lublin, Łódz, Poznań, Rzeszów, Warszawa, Wrocław and Szczecin. A court of appeals functions as the court of 2nd instance – i.e. it tries appeals from decisions of the regional court.
Supervise public administration in order to safeguard its compliance with law. Administrative courts are courts of two instances. The first instance: 14 Voivodship Administrative Courts (WSA); second instance: The Supreme Administrative Court (NSA), located in Warsaw. Administrative courts can only revoke, annul or uphold the appealed administrative act. They cannot issue any new administrative decision that would affect our rights and obligations. The proper venue of the administrative court depends on the location of the administrative body, against which the complaint is filed.
WSA handles complaints regarding most of all:
- administrative decisions (e.g. building permit or tax injunction);
- acts of law of municipal units and local public administration bodies (e.g. local tax rates, parking regulations);
- lack of action by administrative bodies.
We have the right to a cassation appeal from decisions of voivodship administrative courts filed at the Supreme Administrative Court. Every administrative court has an information department, where we can check the proper court venue and status of the cases being examined by the court as well view as the case files.