A Chamber of Certain Liability
The establishment of the Chamber of Professional Liability is the latest installment in the saga, in which the Polish Law & Justice government tries to ‘reform’ the Supreme Court. It shows, in a nutshell, all the major issues of the rule of law crisis in Poland: conflict with the European Commission and loss of EU funds; apparent concessions and leaving old issues intact; split in the Polish legal community between lawful and unlawful judges. All the elements of drama are here and it all begins with the Disciplinary Chamber of the Supreme Court.Continue reading >>
Pandering to peoples’ emotions is no solution
Poland’s next parliamentary elections will be held in autumn 2023. Polish academics are currently discussing how to repair the country's judiciary if the PiS government gets voted out of office. In this blogpost, Marcin Matczak offers a personal account of the on-going debate and advocates for a pragmatic rather than an emotional response.Continue reading >>
Testing judicial independence
Despite the recent abolition of the Disciplinary Chamber, the crisis in the Polish judiciary is still far from resolved. The main reason for this is that the status of judges appointed at the request of the National Council of the Judiciary have not yet been addressed. As a result of the lack of a systemic solution, the problem of irregular judicial appointments must be dealt with by courts in concrete cases. For that purpose, the Supreme Court developed a test aimed at determination of the impact of irregularities in the appointment of judges on the legality of the composition of the court. The most recent amendment to the Act on the Supreme Court introduced a new test and raises serious concerns.Continue reading >>
The Dangers of Freezing and Seizing
The Polish government argues that the only way to effectively seize the assets of Russian oligarchs is to amend the Polish Constitution, since it is currently impossible to do so without obtaining a final judgment of a court of law. Although the official goal may seem to coincide with the actions undertaken by the EU Council, the measures planned by the Polish governing powers should not be accepted without a second glance at their possible legal dangers.Continue reading >>
From Romania with Love
The CJEU judgment "Euro Box Promotion" explicitly extended the Union’s requirement of judicial independence to constitutional courts for the first time. The ‘Romanian’ ruling carries an important message for the Polish government on how the EU legal order might react to the recent rulings of the Polish Constitutional Tribunal, which negate the primacy of European Union law. As a consequence, the CJEU confirms the right and the obligation of national courts to disregard constitutional court rulings that violate EU law.Continue reading >>
When Is a Court Still a Court?
On 3 February 2022, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) issued a judgment in the case of Advance Pharma sp.z o.o. against Poland. This is another judgment on the irregularities in the appointments of judges to the Polish Supreme Court, in which the ECtHR confirmed its previous rulings. But it also touched on several implications of its conclusions for the Polish judiciary. It suggests that they may be relevant for ordinary courts in Poland as well and that Polish authorities should ensure the possibility to reopen proceedings in certain situations.Continue reading >>
The Lex TVN and the End of Free Media in Poland
Law & Justice, the ruling party in Poland, plans to reform the media by introducing restrictions on ownership of TV and radio broadcast companies. Entities from outside the European Economic Area (“EEA”) may not, under the proposed law, control more than 49% of shares in such companies. This pertains both to holding shares directly and indirectly, via companies established in the EEA. If the law will ultimately enter into force is still uncertain. If it does, though, it will deliver a serious blow to, already weakened, free media in Poland.Continue reading >>
Hundreds of judges appointed in violation of the ECHR?
On 22 July 2021, the European Court of Human Rights issued its third judgment concerning the rule of law crisis in Poland. In Reczkowicz v. Poland the Court ruled that the Disciplinary Chamber which dismissed the cassation complaint of the applicant did not meet the standard of a “right to a court established by law” guaranteed under Article 6 § 1 the Convention. The judgment is important not only because the ECtHR reviewed the status of the Disciplinary Chamber – a controversial body that was also the subject of a recent CJEU judgment – but also because it seems that the reasoning of the Court can be applied to hundreds of other newly appointed judges.Continue reading >>