Definitions & Concepts

(Public-law) chambers of commerce – Polish theory of law

In the science of law, (public-law) chamber of commerce is a separate, self-governing, publiclaw entity that independently performs the tasks entrusted to it in the field of public administration in the sphere of economy (within the scope of commission or entrustment, but only in this respect, subject to government supervision), associating under the law all entrepreneurs (common in this group), who appoint its organs in democratic procedures (they have autonomy).

Polish doctrine of administrative law classifies such chambers as a special “self-government”, which includes a group of self-governments based on a bond other than territorial. In the case of economic self-government, the key distinguishing element is the economic bond.

Classic taxonomy of chambers of commerce in the World

The most common systematics lists 4 models of „chambers of commerce”:

  • continental,
  • Anglo-saxon,
  • mixed,
  • administrative (or public).

At the most fundamental level, the classification of chambers of commerce into models
can also be determined by analyzing the concepts of autonomy and self-government.

Note1! The affiliation to models looks arbitrary due to significant differences between countries.
Note2! Above taxonomy reserves no space for public-law sectoral or industry chambers like Polish Chamber of Insurance or agricultural chambers (which are mandatory chambers for all farmers in countries like Poland).

Sectoral Model – draft introduction

Sectoral model requires a detailed taxonomy to be effective. We cannot refer just to the classic three-sector structure (raw materials, manufacturing, services).

In Poland, the Polish Classification of Activities (PKD) can be used. It divides the economy into 21 sections. This division is initially an effective basis for building relatively large and effective, but still specialized chambers of commerce associated in an umbrella organization. (Note! Some smaller and interrelated sections can be connected to slightly reduce number of chambers.) This concept of general (common) sectoral chambers of commerce, established for every sector of the economy, shares the theoretical criteria set for the continental model, but raises the substantive level of discussion on economic issues. Its expert focused character will make such chambers much more competent partner for discussions with the government (the actual creator of policy and law), the legislative authority, other stakeholders, media and of course entrepreneurs. In this model, the main task of the umbrella organization is to coordinate horizontal issues

At the initial organizational stage, an interesting aspect of the sectoral model is the possibility of establishing only some of the chambers. First, for those industries where the level of readiness for this process is the highest. Experiences from these “startup” implementations should facilitate the establishment of subsequent chambers. Another argument for the gradual implementation of the model is the complexity of the decentralization processes, which includes the reconstruction of some administrative procedures – different for each sector.

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Regulatory framework – related to the model

Public law chambers of commerce are generally established on the basis of statutory provisions. In some countries, however, the basis may be a decree of the monarch or another legal act. The scope of statutory regulation depends on the country and the model solutions adopted there. In some a public law act defines the full frameset of chambers, in others – some of the provisions are included in the statutes prepared by the members.

Private law chambers are essentially voluntary business associations. The way they are organized is very different. In some countries, the organizations in question are established on the basis of the provisions of the Chambers of Commerce Act. However, the scope of these regulations varies – from very short acts defining only the rules for using the term “chamber of commerce” in the name of the organization to broad regulations specifying the structure and objectives of the chambers. However, the existence of a dedicated act is not a rule here. In some countries, chambers are established solely on the basis of provisions regulating the activities of associations, civil codes or even tax regulations.

The great diversity of solutions used around the world justifies conducting as wide a range of comparative studies as possible. Such observations may provide useful ideas for possible evolution of these organizations – especially in countries where they do not have a strong position.

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