Limited Sejms

The limited Sejms were those sessions which were postponed to a later date, leaving in force the resolutions adopted before the postponement and maintaining the validity of the mandates of the members of the chamber of deputies for the period until the end of the suspended term. Limiting the sessions of the Sejm in this way entered into parliamentary practice during the reign of King August II the Strong, i.e. 1697-1706 and 1709-1733.The purpose of limiting the duration of the Sejm sessions was an attempt to weaken the effects of termination of the Sejms, which led to the failure to adopt the Sejm's legislation. In situations, when urgent decisions had to be taken, matters that could be disputable and sensitive would be referred to a limited Sejm session. The application of this solution made it possible to maintain continuity of proceedings and to put to an end the settlement of state matters outside the Sejm session, by the king or the senate alone. Limitation of the Sejm began to be used, however, by the royal court, which avoided clashes with the nobility opposition. Due to the court’s right to set the reconvening date, it allowed for manipulations beneficial to the court. With their position undermined, the nobility indicated the possibility of using extension of sessions instead of the suspensions, which was part of the tradition of parliamentary sessions. The first attempts to apply the limits to the sessions of the Sejm took place during the pacification Sejm in 1699, and later during the Sejm of 1701-1702. It was effectively applied during the Sejm of 1712-1713 and later in 1718-1719. It was attempted to be used in 1724. The constitutions passed by the Grodno Sejm of 1726 prohibited the application of the limitations. The collapse of the limitations was caused by the conviction of its vulnerability as a rule of law. It was deemed a necessary evil only to be applied when the statehood and freedoms were at peril. It was rejected as a alien solution, although its aim was to save parts of the legislation by postponing contentious issues until the reassumption of the session. Due to the lack of rules of procedure for the Sejm sessions, the limitations were conducive to procrastination and evoking procedural disputes.

See: W. Konopczyński, Liberum veto, Kraków 1918; H. Olszewski, Sejm Rzeczypospolitej epoki oligarchii (1652-1763). Prawo-praktyka-teoria-programy, Poznań 1966; J. A. Gierowski, Między saskim absolutyzmem a złotą wolnością. Z dziejów wewnętrznych Rzeczypospolitej w latach 1712-1715, Wrocław 1953.