Normative act - what should an entrepreneur know?


A normative act is a text issued by the parliament (Sejm and Senate), e.g. in the form of an act. For comparison - an administrative act is an act issued by public authorities, e.g. in the form of a decision. A specific procedure must be followed to issue a normative act. It is published in the Journal of Laws or in the Official Journal of the Republic of Poland - Monitor Polski.

The binding provisions of law can be found on the ISAP website (Internet System of Legal Acts), published by the IT Center of the Chancellery of the Sejm, which is part of the Information System of the Sejm. If you want to gain knowledge about the current legal status, it is worth directing your attention directly to this page. We will find there all information about whether the normative act is in force, whether it has been repealed or amended. An order or prohibition of a specific conduct oriented towards future action is a standard of conduct included in a normative act, and often also affecting the entrepreneur.

What is a normative act?

A normative act is a text that defines the standards of conduct in a given situation. It clearly indicates how a specific person or groups of people should behave and what rights and obligations they have in relation to the situation.

The legal norm is established by an organ of the state. Legislative power in Poland is exercised by the Sejm and the Senate, commonly known as the parliament. The legal norm established by them is expressed in legal language, in the form of a set of provisions contained in the text. In the hierarchy, the most important acts can be distinguished such as: the Constitution, the act, the ordinance, ratified international agreements and acts of local law (e.g. resolutions of the City Council). For example, a normative act in the form of an act may arise as a result of a civic legislative initiative thanks to 100,000 citizens with the right to elect to the Sejm, that is, persons who are of legal age. Anyone who collects the required number of signatures under their idea may submit a bill to the Sejm, which will work on it according to a specific procedure. Of course, the Parliament, the President and the Council of Ministers also have the initiative to legislate. It is worth noting that the procedure of amending the Constitution does not provide for a citizens' initiative.

Regardless of the impulse for the creation of a normative act, whether it comes from the citizens or the parliament, it is the organ of the state that enforces the legal norm contained in the normative act. It is possible thanks to the possibility of applying some coercion by these organs. More specifically, an action contrary to a normative act may result in the imposition of a penalty. It should be remembered that the sanction (penalty) is specified in the act. However, in order for a normative act to be valid in a state, it must be published. Ignorance of the law cannot then be invoked. Therefore, a correct normative act must contain standards. There are two concepts of its structure - three-element and the concept of coupled standards. Most often, a legal norm contains a description of who, when, how, in what circumstances should behave in a certain way, and, additionally, what will be the result of non-compliance with this norm. It is a three-element concept that includes:

  • hypothesis (who, when, how, under what circumstances)

  • disposition (what to do in a hypothesis situation)

  • sanction (which can result in non-compliance with the standard).

There is also a two-piece structure of a legal norm. This concept assumes the presence of a provision containing a sanctioned norm - specifying a pattern of behavior (e.g. no stopping) and a juxtaposed provision containing a norm - sanctioning - specifying a penalty. It precisely indicates who can draw the consequences of not applying the sanctioned norm and what compulsion can apply, i.e. it implements what has been described above - that the authority enforces the established legal norms. Therefore, for the proper implementation of a legal norm contained in a normative act, it is necessary to indicate the addressee, the model of conduct and circumstances therein.

It is worth taking a closer look at the subject of sanctions contained in both concepts. The provision containing it announces the use of some compulsion or ailment, if the norm was not complied with. Sanctions in a normative act can be divided into:

  • penalty - deprivation of liberty, property (e.g. arrest for failure to appear at hearings)

  • executions - forced collection (e.g. bailiff's auction in case of debt)

  • invalidity - invalidation of a legal transaction (e.g. invalidation of the conclusion of a real estate sale agreement without maintaining the form of a notarial deed).

A normative act is therefore a model of conduct (an order or a prohibition) that must be followed. When looking for your rights and obligations in a given field, for example, being an employee of catering services or an entrepreneur in this industry, you should look for any regulations containing standards relating to these circumstances (including gastronomy, quality, food safety, sanitary inspection).

The Act of 20 July 2000 on the publication of normative acts and some other legal acts emphasizes that a normative act is valid when it is:

  • issued by the competent authority

  • announced (promulgated).

It is similar with EU normative acts - they also have to be published, but in the EU Official Journal.Normative acts enter into force on the date specified therein.

What does a normative act consist of?

A normative act consists of, inter alia, from articles, paragraphs, paragraphs, points and sentences containing regulations. The elements of the structure of a normative act are:

  • title

  • substantive provisions

  • amending provisions

  • rules adjusting new rules and transitional rules

  • final provisions.

Virtually every normative act initially determines its type, and then the date and subject, e.g. the Act of April 27, 2001, Environmental Protection Law, the Regulation of the Council of Ministers of September 12, 2017 on the amount of the minimum remuneration for work and the minimum amount hourly wage in 2018. From the title, it is possible to infer what the normative act will refer to. In it, however, you can get answers to the most important legal issues on a given topic. In such an act, references to other normative acts related to the area under consideration will also be indicated. For example, before planning the organization of an important event, it is worth reading the Act of July 24, 2015 - Law on Assemblies and looking for further regulations in other normative acts, e.g. - resolutions of the City Council in which the event is to be held.

Who is the normative act addressed to?

A normative act is general and abstract. This means that it is directed generally - to recipients defined due to certain characteristics (e.g. to entrepreneurs) and abstractly - containing repetitive, universal ways of behaving. Apart from those indicated above, there are also acts containing individual and specific norms, but mostly they concern administrative acts. An individual standard occurs when the act concerns one person, and a specific norm concerns one, exceptional event (e.g. a decision to permit).

Which normative act is the most important? That is the hierarchy of legal acts

The most important legal act in the state is the Constitution. Other acts cannot contradict it. Other important legal acts are laws and ratified international agreements. Next in the hierarchy are ordinances which are executive acts to statutes. Resolutions of ministers and regulations as well as acts of local law, such as ordinances and resolutions in force in a given area, are located lower in the hierarchy of normative acts.

The application of EU acts and international agreements, if they contain provisions that are contrary to internal law, raises serious doubts. It is worth recalling that EU regulations are an instrument of unification of law in all Member States and are applied uniformly throughout the territory of the Union. It creates the rights and obligations of the member states. They form part of national law. Therefore, it is considered that the act that is inconsistent with the EU law should be disregarded and the provisions of the regulation should be applied.

The principle of sincere cooperation requires that the application of such an act be fully effective. Likewise, the directive, although this allows states some latitude. Valid as to effect. Needs to be translated into national regulations. Therefore, ratified international agreements rank high in the hierarchy of normative acts in Poland.

Inference - interpretation of normative acts

In case of doubts within the meaning of a normative act and its provisions, the so-called interpretative directives and appropriate interpretation. They are nothing more than the interpretation of regulations on many levels. However, this is already the specialty of lawyers. In addition to numerous interpretative rules, two are worth mentioning in the interpretation of law:

  • from larger to smaller - if someone is entitled to do something to a greater extent, he will probably also be entitled to do it to a lesser extent (e.g. if someone obtains a permit to sell alcohol over 18%, he will be able to sell 12% alcohol);

  • from smaller to larger - if something is forbidden to a lesser extent, then it is probably also prohibited to a greater extent (e.g. if you do not have the consent of the person to process their personal data, not only can you not collect such data, but also transfer it other entities).

What if one normative act is in conflict with another? Collision rules

There are situations where an entrepreneur may be an addressee of two different legal acts and does not know which one should apply it properly. The rules that help to choose the right normative act are:

  • scope rule - in the case of provisions of the same rank (e.g. Act - Act), a specific provision should be followed, not a general one (e.g. in the case of a civil service employee, the Civil Service Act will contain more appropriate provisions for this addressee than the Act - Labor Law );

  • hierarchical rule - a higher-ranking provision should be used (the provisions of the Constitution are more important than the provisions of the Act);

  • chronological - a regulation established later repeals the earlier one (e.g. the amended act is in force).