Poland ditches proposal for fixed legal fees

A controversial bill to cap lawyers’ fees at e70 (£53) per hour has been dropped by the new Polish government.

The bill, which was met with horror by Poland’s large commercial and international law firms – including Clifford Chance, Gide Loyrette Nouel, Gleiss Lutz and White & Case – was proposed under prime minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski in July last year (The Lawyer, 16 July 2007).

However, it was postponed to allow parties to concentrate on the parliamentary election in October 2007 and has since been dropped by new prime minister Donald Tusk, who took office in November 2007 and whose minister of justice Zbigniew Cwiakalski is the former name partner of Kraków commercial firm Studnicki Pleszka Cwiakalski Górski. Tomasz Wardynski, managing partner of Polish firm Wardynski & Partners, said: “This is certainly a relief as the bill would have been dangerous for every big undertaking in Poland.

“At the end of the day, fiddling with fees and attempts to regulate them is very bad for the economy as a whole.”

The bill caused consternation among major firms in Poland, with the Law Society of England and Wales flying in last year to coordinate a resistance campaign by UK firms, Polish firms, then British Ambassador to Poland Charles Crawford and City of London Mayor John Stuttaford.

The campaign included talks with the European Commission, and new British Ambassador Ric Todd met with Cwiakalski for talks on the bill before Christmas.

Todd described the decision not to proceed as “very welcome”.