Poland / Administrative Court / IV SA/GI 1129/16 P.P. v local self-government authority

Key facts of the case: 

The applicant P.P. submitted a motion to the local self-government authority for the “500+” social benefit. This benefit is dedicated to families who have at least two children. The Act on state aid in raising children (Ustawa z dnia 11 lutego 2016 r. o pomocy panstwa w wychowaniu dzieci) provides a catalogue of persons who may receive this benefit. The catalogue includes: the mother, father or a factual guardian of a child. P.P. does not live with his partner and they share custody over their children. In his motion, P.P. did not properly explain his situation (it was not clear from the motion which child the benefit would be for, nor did he clarify which child was staying with him on a regular basis). The local self-government authority ordered a social interview to be conducted (wywiad  środowiskowy); however P.P. refused to participate in the interview, hence collection of information about his life situation was not possible. On these grounds (lack of proper information and the refusal to participate in the social interview), the local authority did not grant a benefit to P.P.

P.P. appealed against this decision to the Voivodeship Court.

Outcome of the case:

The Court dismissed P.P.’s application. In its judgement, the Court stated that there is no collision between domestic law (in light of which carrying out the social interview is mandatory in case of doubts in motions for the 500+ benefit) and international law (including the Charter of the Fundamental Rights or European Convention of Human Rights). The Court decided that the refusal to grant the benefit was justified in the circumstances of the case.


Paragraphs referring to EU Charter: 

While controlling the legality of the challenged decision, the Court did not find it necessary to follow the rule of the primacy of European Union law, since the national legal provisions are not incompliant with the European Union’s provisions. They are not incompliant with the provisions of the Constitution either. As Article 7 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights stated, everyone has a right to respect their private and family life, including their home and correspondence […] The necessity to carry out a social interview, which could violate the privacy of the applicant, is based on the provisions of a domestic act. This measure is dedicated to assessing the family and living situation of an applicant. In the opinion of the Court, this measure was introduced with respect for the rule of proportionality, since there are no other, more effective measures, and less imposing methods, allowing for an objective assessment of the factual situation in terms of taking care of a child. These methods meet the goals of public interest, as they refer to the distribution of public funds.

Paragraphs referring to EU Charter (original language): 

Kontrolując legalność zaskarżonej decyzji Sąd nie dostrzegł konieczności stosowania w sprawie zasady prymatu przepisów UE, gdyż powołane w sprawie administracyjnej przepisy prawa krajowego nie pozostają w kolizji z normami prawa unijnego. Nie pozostają także w sprzeczności z uregulowaniami ustawy zasadniczej. Jak stanowi art. 7 Karty praw podstawowych Unii Europejskiej (Dz.U.UE.C2007.303.1) każdy ma prawo do poszanowania życia prywatnego i rodzinnego, domu i komunikowania się. […] Konieczność przeprowadzenia wywiadu środowiskowego, który naruszać mógłby prawo prywatności skarżącego wynika z regulacji ustawowych. Środek ten, przewidziany dla zbadania sytuacji rodzinnej i mieszkaniowej strony, zdaniem Sądu, ustanowiony został z poszanowaniem zasady proporcjonalności, gdyż nie istnieją skuteczniejsze, a mniej uciążliwie metody obiektywnego sprawdzenia faktycznej sytuacji sprawowania opieki na dzieckiem. Metody te odpowiadają celom interesu ogólnego, jako że dotyczą dystrybuowania środków budżetowych.

Deciding body (original language): 
Wojewódzki Sąd Administracyjny w Gliwicach