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The window of opportunity for pursuing a restitution claim in Warsaw won’t last forever; it expires on 17 March 2017 (Part 2)

posted 8 years ago

In the first part of this
article we have presented the comprehensible overview of the current state of
restitution of property in Warsaw. Here we develop the insightful analysis of
the new regulation concerning that matter, which has been in force for a month
and introduced profound changes in property restitution proceedings.

The seizure of property in Warsaw in 1945 was regulated by the 1945 Warsaw
Land Decree (commonly known as the Bierut Decree). State organs, breaking the
law, were not granting the former owners perpetual usufruct (temporary
ownership) rights to estates or compensation as envisaged by the Decree. After
the fall of communism in Poland, there was no regulation solving that matter until
recently. Recently, the Polish Parliament introduced a new set of rules to
solve the situation once and for all.


The law of 25 June 2015 entered into force on 17 September 2016. Since then, it will apply
to all the “launched and not completed” proceedings in Warsaw only. It
introduces amendments to different laws and codes.


The most important changes are the following:

A former owner of an estate taken under the 1945 Warsaw Land Decree who
lost the right to compensation provided by that Decree may have his (or her)
former property returned if he (or she) or
his (or her) legal successor applied for a perpetual usufruct right to the
estate prior 31 December 1988.


An organ may deny an
 for a perpetual usufruct right to an estate taken under
the 1945 Warsaw Land Decree not
 due to reasons established in the Decree (contradiction with
zoning plan), but also due
to the following circumstances:

  • The
    estate is used or intended to be used for a public
     (defined widely in Article 6 of the Law on Real Estate
    Management – includes public roads, airports, infrastructure, public
    offices, schools, monuments etc.);
  • The
    estate has been sold or given into a perpetual usufruct to a third party;
  • building, the value of which
    “significantly exceeds the value of the property taken for that purpose”,
    was erected by the State Treasury or the community on the estate after the
    1945 Warsaw Land Decree entered into force;
  • The
    building taken under the 1945 Warsaw Land Decree, damaged within the years
    1939-45 more than in 66% was
    rebuilt or repaired with use of public funds;
  • It
    is impossible to divide the
    estate in accordance with law and “spatial order” if only a part of it is
    subject to a claim under the 1945 Warsaw Land Decree.


An organ may discontinue
 regarding applications filed under the 1945 Warsaw Land
decree if it is impossible to establish the parties of the case or their
addresses while the application is the only document in the case file. To do
so, it has to make a public announcement that it is looking for the former
owner of the estate or his (or her) legal successors by the press and Internet,

the name of the owner,

the address of the estate,

the information of the application filed,

the call to join the proceedings within 6 months from the announcement.


If within that time no
one approach the organ or, if approached, fail to prove his (or her) rights
within the following 3 months or to indicate his (or her) address, the
proceedings will be discontinued. In other words, the successors will have only
6 months to take part in the proceedings – otherwise, they permanently lose their right to
restitution as the estate will become a public property
. Moreover, no compensation would be possible.


The State Treasury and the Warsaw municipality enjoy pre-emptive rights to rights
and claims under the 1945 Warsaw Land Decree being sold. The pre-emptive rights
will not apply to the transactions reported in the proceedings before the Law
enters into force.


The window of opportunity for pursuing a restitution claim in Warsaw will
not last forever. It expires on 17 March 2017. If the application is not be made
until then, the chances for recovering the property will be significantly
reduced or even may expire without any compensation.

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