TK1-230x230On 1st July 2015 the most significant reform of Polish criminal procedure since adoption of the Criminal Procedure Code of 1997 is coming into force.

It is lawmaker’s intention to finally renounce inquisitive model of criminal procedure, imposed in 1969 as an element of Soviet law culture, completely unknown to Polish pre-war jurisprudence, however, deeply established in contemporary Polish criminal law practice. The Criminal Procedure Code of 1997, which up to this day follows Soviet model, not only leads to parties’ passivity, but it often causes lengthy and costly proceedings in relatively uncomplicated cases. New regulations minimise possible procedure obstruction, as the right to defence will not be defendant’s obligation anymore, but his privilege –obligatory presence of a defendant during court hearings will not be required anymore. New criminal procedure also puts an end to dual conduction of the same evidence – first in the course of preliminary proceedings, then in court proceedings, which releases a court from discharging investigative and judicial functions at the same time. From now on the burden of proof will only be on a prosecutor, while a court will act as an independent arbitrator, conducting evidence ex officio only under exceptional circumstances. As it is aptly held in doctrine, criminal court’s unconditional obligation to realise the principle of material truth impairs “equality of arms” principle, which in some cases may arise justified doubts as to court’s actual impartiality. Prosecutor General Mr. Andrzej Seremet says that: “introduction of adversary trial model will require a prosecutor during a court hearing to be acquainted with preliminary case file in such a way that he will be able to conduct and examine evidence effectively in order to support accusation’s theses and expose weakness of evidence provided by the defence” (conference “Prosecutor and adversary criminal trial model. Challenges and dangers” 23.04.2014).

It is, however, striking that such a profound criminal procedure reform is not accompanied by an organisational reform of public prosecutor’s office. Obvious as it is, that new criminal procedure model requires prosecutor’s office organisational structure to be reformed as well in order to make it possible for public prosecutors to properly realise their statutory duties – uphold law abiding by citizens and prosecute crimes.