The COVID Crisis as a Sample Tube with Contemporary Legal Phenomena

  • Krzysztof Koźmiński Associate professor, Faculty of Law and Administration, University of Warsaw
  • Jan Rudnicki Associate professor, Faculty of Law and Administration, University of Warsaw
Keywords: COVID-19, legislation, juridification, inflation of law, decodification


A superficial view of lawmakers’ reaction to the current pandemic crisis is that we are witnessing an aberration and a concentration of bad practices. This paper presents a partially opposite thesis that the response of legal systems to this situation is not surprising and an accumulation of several phenomena very characteristic of the contemporary evolution of law. The restriction of personal freedoms, often imposed by means far from the theoretical scope of sources of law described by demo-liberal constitutions, combined with the broad scope and curious details of the extraordinary regulations complete the general trend towards the juridisation of almost every aspect of human activities. Today, the law serves as the dominant tool of creating social and economic order, taking the fields once occupied by other (and now almost extinct) normative systems and at the same time, displacing them. Thus, the more law exists in the everyday circulation, the more demand it creates for further and even more casuistic legal regulation. In this reality, this is the only tool that can be applied in extraordinary circumstances. In addition, the applied legislative techniques are not new. The Polish act known commonly and semi-officially as the ‘anti-crisis shield’ is a typical ‘complex act’ aimed at dealing with a particular matter thoroughly through the use of all traditional methods of regulation: civilian, administrative, and penal mixed together in a single text of law. Thus, this regulation also constitutes a perfect (and perhaps the most striking) example of the phenomenon of decodification, especially in the field of private law, since it deals with particular contractual and tort issues as if there were no relevant regulations in the Civil Code, which should (at least theoretically) constitute the core of the private law system.