Niżankowska, Szumielewicz – Adwokaci i Radcowie Prawni
Spółka Partnerska
Kraków, 31-061, Trynitarska 6/32
tel.: +48 [0] 12 424 93 90
fax: +48 [0] 12 424 93 99
pro bono

The Law Firmcontinues the cooperation began in 2006 by Anna-Maria Niżankowska-Horodecka within the “Strategic Litigation Program”, with the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights.

I. Freedom of speech and right to criticize before the Constitutional Tribunal

Persons represented by the Law Firm under this cooperation include Ms. Zofia Szychowska Ph.D. before the Constitutional Tribunal in a case of her constitutional complaint, requesting the examination of the compliancy of certain provisions of the Act on the medicine chambers, further specified in the Medical Ethics Code, in relation to the content of the doctor’s oath to the extent in which those regulations limit a constitutional principle of the freedom of speech and the right to criticize. That case (run under case file No. SK 16/07) ended with the verdict issued by the Constitutional Tribunal on April 23, 2008, pursuant to which it adjudicated that Art. 52.2 of the Medical Ethics Code in conjunction with 15.1, Art. 41 and Art. 42. 1 of the Act of 17 May 1989 on Medical Chambers, do not comply with Art. 54.1 in conjunction with Art. 31.3 and Art. 17.1 of the Constitution of the Republic of Poland, to the extend it prohibits the expression of public opinion on the professional activity of another doctor, which would be true and justified by the protection of public interests.

II. “Wrongful birth” lawsuit

Anna-Maria Niżankowska-Horodecka, attorney, represented Sławomir and Barbara Wojnarowski in a widely known lawsuit for the so-called “wrongful birth” against the Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński Provincial Hospital in Łomża and two doctors who unlawfully refused to refer Barbara Wojnarowska to prenatal diagnostic tests in relation to the risk of giving birth to a child with a serious genetic illness, which the first child of Mr. and Ms. Wojnarowski had been already suffering. This made it impossible for Mr. and Ms. Wojnarowski to take a decision on terminating the pregnancy legally. As a result of this pregnancy a girl was born who suffered – just like her brother – from achondroplasia. In this lawsuit lasting over six years, which ended with a valid decision of the Court of Appeals in Białystok of July 4, 2008, a compensation and a pension was adjudged to Mr. and Ms. Wojnarowski from the hospital. The compensation was related to the infringement of the rights of the patient, Barbara Wojnarowska, and of the personal interests of Sławomir Wojnarowski in the form of the freedom to take a decision on bringing a child to the world (which is vested in parents in cases enumerated in the Act on family planning, human foetus protection and conditions for the acceptability of terminating pregnancy), while the pension was related to the loss of Ms. Barbara Wojnarowska of her earning capacity – resulting from the need to take care of a disabled daughter and due to increased expenses to bring up and to maintain the daughter related to her disability. In a precedential statement in this case, the Supreme Court, which examined the annulment of the previous sentences of the District Court in Łomża and the Court of Appeal in Białystok, recognized that the compensation should be granted for the increased costs of care and living of the ill child rather than for the birth itself (of an ill child), as a child is never a “loss.”

III. TVP S.A. infringed personal interests of a well-known film director

On June 10, 2008, the conclusion of an agreement ended the case before the District Court in Warszawa, which was brought against Telewizja Polska S.A. by Ms. Agnieszka Arnold, represented by Anna-Maria Niżankowska-Horodecka, attorney, within which, the plaintiff - a well known director of documentary films - claimed compensation and apologies for infringing her personal interests by the TVP Ethics Council.

IV. Award in the 2008 Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year contest

In May 2009, Anna-Maria Niżankowska-Horodecka, attorney-at-law, partner in the Niżankowska, Szumielewicz – Adwokaci i Radcowie Prawni law firm, was honoured with a distinction in the 2008 Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year contest. The contest is held by the Legal Clinics Foundation and Rzeczpospolita daily under the auspices of the Polish Bar Council and the National Council of Legal Advisers. The aim of the contest – already in its 6th edition in 2008 – is awarding the title of Pro Bono Lawyer to individuals whose activity, involvement, and contributions to promoting the noble idea of lawyers’ Pro Bono Publico work deserves special recognition.

V. The Pro Bono Lawyers project

This autumn, on 3 October 2009, the Pro Bono Lawyers project (“Adwokaci Pro Bono”) took place the second time. Our company’s team actively participated in the project, and for six hours (9:00 am to 3:00) provided legal advice on several dozen issues in civil, commercial, labour as well as copyrights laws.

VI. High school students’ personal rights protection lawsuit against Prof. Ryszard Legutko

Since spring 2010, attorney Anna-Maria Niżankowska-Horodecka, LLD, has been representing, on a pro-bono basis, under the Precedential Cases Program of the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, Ms Zuzanna Niemier and Mr Tomasz Chabinka in their personal rights protection lawsuit against Prof. Ryszard Legutko. On 3 November 2009, the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg settled the Lautsi v. Italy case, ruling that Italy has acted in violation of Article 2 of Protocol 1 in conjunction with Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights by placing crucifixes in classrooms, thereby limiting the rights of parents to educate their children in line with their own beliefs as well as the children’s freedom of religion, and, moreover, contradicting the principle of the state’s neutrality in performing public functions. Following a discussion of that ruling at High School No. 14 in Wroclaw, several students, including Zuzanna Niemier and Tomasz Chabinka, drafted a petition to the school’s principal, wherein they asked “kindly for the removal of religious symbols from school premises”, referring to the arguments posed in the ruling of the ECHR, and pointing out that an individual’s world view is the individual’s private matter. The issue was covered by Polska Gazeta Wrocławska and Gazeta Wyborcza, and commented upon – also in those newspapers – by a Member of the European Parliament, on behalf of the Polish Prawo i Sprawiedliwość [Law and Justice] party, Prof. Ryszard Legutko, who called the petition “infantile”, “sly, cynical and ideological ruckus”, and referred to the petitioners themselves as “unruly brats spoiled by their parents”. On 2 March 2010, the Law Firm, on behalf of Zuzanna Niemier and Tomasz Chabinka, filed a suit against Prof. Ryszard Legutko, requesting that he remedies the infringement of personal rights by apologising to the plaintiffs and payment of an appropriate monetary amount to the Stowarzyszenie Młody Wrocław association. In response to the suit, Prof. Ryszard Legutko has excused himself with the MEP immunity, stating that his comments were made as part of his professional duties of a Member of the European Parliament and that the words he used were not insulting. By the judgment of 17 April 2012 the District Court in Kraków ordered Prof. Ryszard Legutko to publish an apology to the plaintiffs in Gazeta Wrocławska and Gazeta Wyborcza, as well as to pay the requested sum for the benefit of the association. The judgment was upheld by the Court of Appeal in Kraków and is final and binding form 26 October 2012.

As a result of lodging a cassation complaint by Professor Ryszard Legutko against a judgement of the Court of Appeal in Kraków, the case was recognised by the Supreme Court which, on 22 January 2014, dismissed the complaint, finally closing proceedings in the case in question.