The Role of Legal Transfer in Post-Communist Poland

The Search for a Metaphor


  • Michelle Albani University of Vienna (Department of Legal and Constituitional History)


The fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989 marked the symbolic end of socialism. The collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the socialist system meant that the legal system in force had to be rebuilt. The purpose of this article is to deal with the role of legal transfer in this transitional period using the example of the change of the property regime in Poland. This question is embedded in the search for an appropriate metaphor for this unprecedented process.

The article elaborates on how Poland has managed the transformation of the property regime. This elaboration is oriented to the central question of the role of legal transfer.

The theories of Watson, Legrand, Frankenberg and Foljanty are used to characterize the transformation process in terms of legal theory. This is aimed at providing an optimal metaphor for the post-communist transformation of the Polish legal system. The central issue here is transfer in all its facets. The transfer is not only considered in the form of translation in the sense of a technical translation of a norm from one language into another, but also with regard to cultural differences and a possible change in meaning as a result of the transfer. In this respect, the object of research is the translation process as such, but also the continued existence of the norms at issue in the new legal order.