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Law exams are not adapted for people with disabilities

Currently, people with disabilities may only use special assistance during the advocate, legal counsellor and notary professional qualification exams: they can receive a time extension equal to half of the time available for the standard exam. However, entry exams for the same qualifications are not adapted for the needs of people with disabilities. No adaptation measures are provided in the case of the entry exams sat by the candidates for the post of a court enforcement officer, judge or prosecutor, or the examination for admission to general qualification in law.

The Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights has commented on this issue in letters sent to the Minister of Justice, the Poland’s Bar Association, the President of the National Society of Legal Counsellors, the President of the Polish Association of Notaries, the President of the Polish Association of Court Enforcement Officers and to the Director of the National School of Judiciary and Public Prosecution.

“In our opinion, we need a systemic approach to improving access to the tests and examinations legal qualifications and current policies concerning this matter are inconsistent and incoherent”, says Dr. Dorota Pudzianowska, HFHR legal expert. “It is difficult to understand why people with disabilities are treated differently in admission procedures for different legal qualifications they choose to pursue their future legal careers”, adds Dr. Pudzianowska.

According to the HFHR the lack of accessibility to legal qualifications is a significant obstacle in obtaining legal education and professional qualifications for people with disabilities. It is particularly visible in the context of the rights awarded for people with disabilities at the stage of primary, secondary and higher education.

Rights of people with disabilities are guaranteed by the Polish and international law. Article 32 of the Constitution of the Republic of Poland prohibits discrimination on all grounds, including disability. At the same time, according to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, an instrument ratified by Poland, State Parties have a duty to ensure reasonable accommodation for people with disabilities, also in respect of the conditions of undertaking professional activities.

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