Every entity, so a natural person, a legal entity, or an organizational unit without legal personality, can act through their representative.
In Polish law, parties to an administrative-legal or civil law relationship are not obligated – not including exceptions foreseen in agreements and characterizing a given employment relationship – to act on their own behalf. According to a principle of civil law, representation consists in one person (representative) acting legally in the name of a second person (represented), in the scope of activities which the representative is authorized to carry out in another’s name (authorization), and which entail direct effects for the represented.
The necessity to properly represent a party is realized by adhering to the principle of active participation of the party in proceedings. It must also be mentioned that the right of a party to actively and personally participate in proceedings or via a proxy assigned by the party is foreseen in Article 6 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.
With respect to the source of authorization, there are two distinct types of representation:
statutory representation – when the source of authorization is an act (e.g. parents in relation to a child under parental authority, guardian, keeper),
representation – when the source of authorization is a statement of the will of the authority.
The mandate defines the limits of authorization of the power of attorney. It is necessary therefore to distinguish between:
power of attorney for specific acts, known as specific power of attorney, e.g. power of attorney to file appeals with the Treasury Chamber, excluding action with higher bodies,
power of attorney to a certain type of conduct, also known as generic power of attorney, e.g. for conduct before a tax agency,
general power of attorney, which includes authorization for daily management.
In Polish law, power of attorney is a unilateral legal action of an authorizing character. This action authorizes a proxy (gives him authority) to carry out legal actions in the name of and with effect for the authorizer. Rights and responsibilities that are the subject of the proceedings, resulting from the provisions of substantive law, do not burden the proxy, but have direct legal effect on the party.
The proxy is therefore not a party to the proceedings – he only acts in the name of the party – thus the body cannot direct a decision to him, but to the party. Such a decision would be directed to a person who is not a party and as such would be open to charges of invalidity. A statement of the will to grant power of attorney is submitted to the proxy and it is unnecessary for the proxy to take power of attorney. It should be emphasized here that the scope of the power of attorney should clearly result from its content.