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Statement on exclusion of rehabilitation equipment from judicial enforcement proceedings

Under Polish law, rehabilitation equipment is not excluded from collection proceedings conducted by court enforcement officers. The Code of Civil Procedure contains an exhaustive list of movables which cannot be made subject to judicial enforcement. Rehabilitation equipment is not included in the list.

The HFHR’s statement to the Minister of Justice refers to a case covered by the press, including Gazeta Wyborcza daily. A court enforcement officer, collecting a payment for fuel oil worth PLN 3,000, has been requested by the creditor to seize rehabilitation equipment, and to be more exact, a high-resolution monitor with a magnifier. Thanks to the device, Anna, suffering from a severe visual impairment, could read and write.

The equipment was purchased with the 90% co-financing from the State Fund for Rehabilitation of Disabled Persons. The court enforcement officer seized the device despite debtors’ willingness to surrender other objects which may be subject to attachment such as a TV set or a stereo. Ultimately, the equipment was returned to Anna. However, this was thanks to the goodwill of the creditor who, prompted by the media reports, decided to waive the collection of the device in question, submitting an appropriate motion to the enforcement officer.

In the opinion of the HFHR, legal regulations which authorise the seizure of rehabilitation equipment violate the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms as well as the Council of Europe’s Recommendation on Enforcement. The Recommendation suggests that the collection proceedings should strike a positive balance between the rights and interests of the parties to the enforcement process thereby respecting the right to fair trial, the right to court and the right to private and family life.

“The instrument clearly indicates that assets used to satisfy basic medical needs should be protected against enforcement”, observes Michał Chylak, HFHR.

Another thing to note is that a relevant amendment of law is required by force of the obligations accepted by Poland upon ratifying the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The provisions which authorise depriving disabled persons of rehabilitation equipment in the course of enforcement proceedings are discriminatory because for persons with disabilities such equipment serves a special function, replacing a dysfunctional organ.

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