The Legal Situation of Former Landowners in the Third Polish Republic

The Polish Committee of National Liberation’s Decree on Land Reform of 6 September 1944 was of principally political significance and the adoption thereof, irrespective of changes made to the agrarian structure in existence theretofore in the Polish countryside, served primarily to facilitate the seizure of power in Poland by communists following the conclusion of World War II. The Decree resulted in the elimination of the class of landowners. The fundamental ramifications of the decree are yet to be unequivocally explained, and doubts keep abounding. The case law of the Supreme Court, the Constitutional Court and the Supreme Administrative Court only deepens the sense of uncertainty. The paper offers a critique of the cases and proposes a novel method of construction of relevant legal norms so that the current legal situation of former landowners or their heirs may be clearly determined.

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