‘The decision not only clearly prohibits the Polish government to illegally repress judges, by suspending the so-called Disciplinary Chamber, but has a much broader effect – it should close the way for abuse of the arbitrary recognition of the elections validity’, says the president of the Association of Polish Judges Iustitia professor Krystian Markiewicz.
Summary of the judgment
On 8 April 2020, the Grand Chamber of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) granted the European Commission‘s application for interim measures against Poland (C-791/19 R), in which it decided to oblige the Republic of Poland to immediately suspend the application of the provisions of the law on the Supreme Court constituting the basis for the powers of the Disciplinary Chamber of the Supreme Court with regard to disciplinary cases concerning judges, both in the first and second instance. The suspension shall continue until a final judgement is delivered in case C 791/19.
The CJEU also obliges the Republic of Poland to refrain from referring cases pending before the Disciplinary Chamber of the Supreme Court for consideration by a panel that does not meet the requirements of independence, as indicated in particular in the judgment of 19 November 2019 on the independence of the Supreme Court Disciplinary Chamber (C 585/18, C 624/18 and C 625/18, EU:C:2019:982 – A.K. and Others).
In addition, it orders the Republic of Poland that the European Commission be notified of all measures that Poland had adopted in order to comply fully with the CJEU decision no later than one month from the service of the order of the CJEU granting the requested interim measures. It is not ruled out that the European Commission may bring further action seeking financial penalties for Poland.
Scope of the judgment
Professor Krystian Markiewicz President of the Association of Polish Judges Iustitia:
‘Today’s CJEU decision not only clearly prohibits the Polish government to illegally repress judges, by suspending the so-called Disciplinary Chamber, but has a much broader effect – it should close the way for abuse of the arbitrary recognition of the elections validity.
In the today’s order, the Court highlights the lack of independence of the Disciplinary Chamber, which is linked to the fact that it was set up entirely by the neoKRS (the new National Council of the Judiciary) and holds a special status.
Both these fundamental irregularities also concern the Chamber of Extraordinary Control and Public Affairs, which is to decide on the validity of the elections. All the members of this Chamber were appointed by President Duda. Moreover, their appointment was made against the ruling of the Supreme Administrative Court suspending the judicial competition. Recently, the muzzle law strengthened the powers of this Chamber. This means that it should not pass rulings either.
Why shouldn’t it adjudicate? Because it will expose all of us not only to legal chaos, but may deprive Poles of their electoral rights. Only withholding adjudication by this Chamber, which is still in the hands of the judges of the Supreme Court Labour Chamber, can prevent this from happening. This is the raison d’etat. If this does not happen and the persons from the Chamber of Control continue to adjudicate in electoral cases the Republic of Poland will be degraded from a ‘democratic state ruled by the rule of law’ to merely a ‘state’’.
The press release and the judgement are accessible online.
Photo: Adrian Grycuk