Katarzyna Gladysz an English lawyer with a Polish background and member of the newly established British Polish Law Association provides a snapshot of the investment climate in Poland right now.

Bloomberg has named Poland the best for business within the European Economic Area in 2013, while FDI Intelligence ranked Poland third (behind USA and China) in its report on the best places for production investment.

Also, the 2012 survey of the Polish-German Chamber of Commerce shows that 95% of foreign investors in Poland would choose to invest there again. It seems apparent that Poland is rapidly growing to become a popular and solid place for investment, however the question arises: is it really an investment paradise or is it still a terra incognita? Among factors most frequently associated with Poland’s potential for attracting foreign capital is its convenient geographical location.

Being placed in the very heart of Europe and on the crossroads of many important communication trails allows the state to easily export goods to all European countries thus reaching over half a billion consumers. What is more, the highly skilled and educated cadres are another strong investment enticement, especially with the Polish engineers and scientists as the most praised and sought-after professionals.

Finally, Poland is considered politically and fiscally stable. Poland’s EU and NATO membership creates the image of a trusted business partner on top of the fact that it was the only EU member state not to experience recession. Needless to say these are outstanding attributes in the times of the ongoing recovery from the global financial crisis.

What may still dispirit investors is the rather idle and inefficient administration and unclear tax regulation. In the energy sector, the administrative sluggishness with relation to extraction concession was mentioned to be one of the factors determining the giants such as Exxon Mobil or Talisman Energy opting out of the major shale gas investment projects.

The energy tax bars also cannot be said to be on lower end of the spectrum. For instance, the so called “hydrocarbon tax” relevant to shale gas enterprises, caused quite an outrage. It could add up to 25% of the company’s total income in additional tax, which is said to double the risk on investment and effectively scare off the potential developers.

The energy market is without a doubt tough in Poland, however what about other areas? When it comes to commercial trade, the most popular foreign supermarket chains seem to be doing more than well in Poland. For example Geronimo Martins Poland, the owner of the Portuguese chain “Biedronka” is successful enough to keep on investing in building the new distribution centres with the newest development in Gorzow Wielkopolski.

Similarly the English Tesco and German Lidl seem to have found the breeding grounds for their rapid expansion in Poland with the latter having built over 500 shops and 8 distribution centres since entering the market in 2002.

What on the other hand brings a little light to some of the ambiguous regulations and infrastructure sphere is definitely the prolonged (until 2026) existence of the SSEs- special economic areas enjoying the benefits of tax reliefs as well as plots of land especially developed for commercial purposes. Time will show if it is going to be enough to meet the targets set for Poland in the wildly optimistic foreign investment prognosis.

The views shared in this article are those of Katarzyna Gladysz and not those of the Law Society of England and Wales

How to practise in Poland

The Legal System

The Polish legal system is based on the civil law tradition.

The Legal Profession

There is a split profession in Poland.

The profession of Legal Advisers (Radca Prawny) numbered 27,531 in 2011. The profession of Adwokat is smaller and currently numbers 12,413. Adwokat have a monopoly on representation in criminal matters although they work in all practice areas. The legal advisers work in all practice areas but criminal and can also work in-house. Members of both professions can go into partnership with one another.

Regulation of legal profession

The profession of Legal Advisers is regulated by the National Council of Legal Advisers (Krajowa Izba Radców Prawnych – KIRP) at the national level and by 19 local Councils at the local level. 

The profession of Adwokat is regulated by the Polish Bar Council (Naczelna Rada Adwokacka) at the national level and 24 local bar associations at the local level. 

Regulatory compliance

Poland implemented the Establishment Directive 98/5/EC. Registration under this directive is with the local bar or council (see above links). European lawyers may choose between the two professional bodies but then become bound by the code of ethics of the body of their choice.

Requalification

Solicitors (and EU, EEA and Swiss qualified lawyers and nationals) seeking to requalify in Poland can do so in two ways:

- Art 10 of the Establishment Directive 98/5/EC after three years of regular and effective practice in Poland;

- Through the Diplomas Directive 89/48/EEC, now incorporated into the Recognition of Professional Qualifications Directive 2005/36/EC, by sitting the relevant equivalence examination for the profession of their choice.

Information provided by the Law Society of England and Wales