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Nearly 200 companies want to seek financial compensation from the national treasury for their losses following the economic restrictions and bans introduced to fight the coronavirus pandemic. Why? In a recent interview for the daily “Dziennik Gazeta Prawna”, attorney Jacek Dubois expressed an opinion according to which the restrictions imposed upon business owners during the pandemic were unconstitutional.

Constitutional tort

The attorney claims that by imposing specific restrictions to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the government acted unlawfully, violating the Polish constitution, and thus can be made directly responsible for his clients’ financial losses. “The restrictions upon business owners have been imposed in violation of constitutional provisions. The Polish constitution explicitly says that under extraordinary circumstances economic freedom can be restricted, but it cannot be stopped entirely”. Besides, if business activity is to be restricted at all, it can only happen by means of introducing a new law. Instead, Dubois points out, the bans were introduced by means of regulations, i.e. lower-level acts. “I think that what we’re seeing here is a case of constitutional tort, i.e. state authorities violating basic law and acting unlawfully. The state should be held accountable for its unlawful actions”.

More businesses join the class action lawsuit

Companies who decided to take legal action against the state belong into the broadly-defined tourism and entertainment sector: travel agencies, tour and travel guides, transportation companies.

„These companies were further joined by other businesses active in the entertainment and event industry, such as amusement parks, event management companies, event venues, etc.” – adds Ms. Plichta-Trzonkowska, attorney at the Dubois and Partners law firm. “Other businesses whose economic activity is still heavily restricted, including night clubs and dance clubs, also want to join the law suit”.

All of these private companies suffered major financial losses and are still having trouble to re-enter the market. Their situation is so dire that they often struggle to even provide for their families. The financial problems some of these companies are facing actively prevents from even claiming their legal rights, attorney Dubois further adds. “Quite frankly, an expense of several hundered zlotys is beyond their means”.

The government remains unconvinced

Both of the attorneys who prepare the lawsuit say that the state “stuck its head in the sand and pretends that the problem doesn’t exist”. Dubois emphasizes that the last month only strengthened his belief that “the state is not a partner” and “it doesn’t take any action to help the affected people and alleviate some of their burden”. Perhaps it assumes that economic pressure will discourage them. Our clients, however, are determined to let the government’s actions be assessed by the court”. – the attorney says.

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