1st Edition

Small and Medium Enterprises, Law and Business Uncertainty and Justice

By Jan Winczorek, Karol Muszynski Copyright 2023

    The law plays an ambiguous role in running business. While legal tools can be used to tame uncertainties, for example, by concluding contracts to safeguard enforcement of future claims, they can also generate uncertainty. These secondary uncertainties like ones stemming from vague rights and obligations may be counterbalanced by using different resources and strategies, including acting informally, modifying business plans or accepting the losses from unpaid dues. This book discusses how small and medium enterprises use the law, abstain from using the law, and use alternative pathways to manage business uncertainties. Examining these topics through the lenses of an extensive qualitative and quantitative empirical study on justiciable issues, access to justice and legal uncertainty among SMEs in Poland, it implements and expands upon the paradigmatic paths to justice methodology which has been successfully used to study conflict resolution, access to justice and utilisation of the law by individuals in more than 30 jurisdictions. It argues that the grand promise of modern law - that it is a certainty-providing, neutral and democratic device to resolve problems and conflicts - is not fully delivered. It reveals how the conditions of a freshly developed capitalism combined with the rule of law backsliding contribute to universal, structural problems with access to justice meaning that accessing justice is a resource-hungry process, which incentivises small businesses to settle for their legal problems and engage in informal and alternative strategies.


    Chapter 1. A money-making machine: The first look at SMEs’ paths to justice

    Chapter 2. The payment game: Indebtedness as a justiciable issue

    Chapter 3. Contractual uncertainty and trickle-down economics

    Chapter 4. Paradise lost. SMEs, authorities, and regulation

    Chapter 5. "I’ve got these nice lads." Accountants, lawyers, and courts as instruments of managing uncertainty

    Chapter 6. Bigger is better, until you go extinct. Economic growth and legal uncertainty

    Appendix A: Methodological annex

    Appendix B: Overview of respondents

    Works cited


    Jan Winczorek is an Assistant Professor in Law at the University of Warsaw, Poland

    Karol Muszynski is an Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Sociology at the University of Warsaw, Poland, and a Postdoctoral Researcher at the Centre for Sociological Research, KU Leuven, Belgium