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New facilities available for persons with disabilities during entry exams for legal professions training

Owing to the amendments introduced by the Minister of Justice, persons with disabilities will be able to take advantage of facilities during the entrance exams for admission to advocate, legal advisor and notary training. The HFHR drew attention to the necessity of amending the provisions already in 2013.

According to the new provisions that entered into force in August 2016, candidates with disabilities taking the entry exam may request a 50%-time extension for the exam’s test module and apply for a special way of solving the test which would take into account their disability. So far, persons with disabilities could benefit from such solutions as extended exam time only during attorney, legal advisor and notary professional qualification exams, but such facilities were not available at the stage of entry exams for the professional legal training.

The legislative changes introduced by the Minister of Justice are a response to the proposals expressed by the HFHR already in 2013. “Persons with disabilities who wish to practice a legal profession should be able to benefit from reasonable accommodations at all stages of education and the process of acquiring professional qualifications. It is a standard resulting for example from the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, an instrument ratified by Poland”, says Dr Dorota Pudzianowska, HFHR’s lawyer. “In 2014, the position of the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights was supported for example by the Human Rights Committee of the Polish Bar Association”, Dr Dorota Pudzianowska adds.

The HFHR is pleased with the changes introduced by the Minister of Justice. The process of adjusting the rules for carrying out the competitive entry examinations for admission to general qualification in law, court enforcement officer internships as well as the court enforcement officer, judge and prosecutor exams should be carried out in accordance with the direction indicated in the amendment. During these exams and competition procedures still, no facilities have been made available for persons with disabilities.

“If the legislator assumed that persons who need more time for taking an exam might practise as advocates, legal advisors or notaries, than the profession of a judge, prosecutor or a court enforcement officer should not be inaccessible due to this disability. The Foundation will be taking action in order to change the provisions of the law in this respect”, says Jarosław Jagura, a lawyer working with the HFHR.

The matter has been included in the HFHR’s “Article 32” anti-discrimination programme.

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