The Draft Amendments to the Serbian Constitution: Populism before Judicial Independence

Serbia is currently abuzz with draft constitutional amendments that should enhance judicial independence and move the country one step closer to EU accession. On 12 April 2018, the Serbian Government adopted the draft amendments and sent them to the Venice Commission. However, while at present the political influence on the judiciary comes from the political institutions, in the future this influence will come from the ruling majority.

Continue Reading →

Bad Response to a Tragic Choice: the Case of Polish Council of the Judiciary

A few days ago, the courageous and intelligent Chief Justice of the Polish Supreme Court, Professor Małgorzata Gersdorf, announced that, after some agonizing due to important legal and moral dilemmas at stake, she decided after all to convene the first, inaugural meeting of the National Council of Judiciary. The meeting is to take place on 27 April. The decision was met with dismay on the part of some lawyers and relief on the part of others. Generally, however, it did not prompt any particularly strong responses on either side. But the decision is momentous, both in its practical consequences and as a matter of principle.

Continue Reading →

Die Rechtsstaatlichkeitskrise vor Gericht: der Anfang vom Ende gegenseitigen Vertrauens

Die Rechtsstaatlichkeitskrise in Polen rückt zunehmend in den Fokus der Gerichte. Das gilt auch für den EuGH und die Gerichte anderer, auf den ersten Blick nicht direkt betroffener EU-Mitgliedstaaten. Eine Entscheidung des irischen High Courts vom 12. März 2018 zeigt die übergreifenden Folgen der „polnischen“ Rechtsstaatlichkeitskrise in bislang ungekannter Prägnanz auf. Die Botschaft lautet: Die Negation rechtsstaatlicher Grundsätze, wie sie derzeit in Polen zu beobachten ist, rüttelt an den Grundfesten der europäischen Rechtsgemeinschaft. Sie kann als solche auch außerhalb Polens nicht ignoriert werden.

Continue Reading →

CJEU Opens the Door for the Commission to Reconsider Charges against Poland

In the Associação Sindical dos Juízes Portugueses judgment the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) deemed that on the basis of Article 19(1) TEU it is competent to evaluate the guarantee of independence of judges if only they sit in a national court that may apply and interpret EU law. In light of this ruling, the European Commission in the infringement proceedings against Poland does not have to restrict itself to the slightly modified “Hungarian scenario” (hitherto preferred by it). It may instead once again analyse the scope of charges with regard to the Common Courts System Act (the CCS Act), and may even lodge a new complaint concerning i.a. the Act on the Supreme Court.

Continue Reading →

The Court is dead, long live the courts? On judicial review in Poland in 2017 and „judicial space” beyond

How should Polish judges respond, now that the Constitutional Court is being used in the day-to-day politics, and keeps delivering goods for its political masters? We have to be unequivocal here. Any future decisions taken by the „fake Court” with the “fake” judges sitting on the cases will be marred by invalidity. The ordinary judges will have a valid claim not to follow these rulings. Should they decide to follow decisions made with the participation of, or made by, “fake” judges, their own proceedings will be vitiated by invalidity.

Continue Reading →

The Rule of Law in Poland: A Sorry Spectacle

With political appointments to its National Council of the Judiciary, Poland is now seeing the next step in the dismantling the rule of law. The change in the procedure for appointments to the Council was one of the reasons thousands of Poles took to the streets last summer to protest in the name of independent courts. Their fears have turned out to be well founded.

Continue Reading →

Has the CJEU just Reconfigured the EU Constitutional Order?

On 27 February 2018 the Grand Chamber of the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) handed down a judgment in Associação Sindical dos Juízes Portugueses v Tribunal de Contas. The case concerned a legal challenge of the Portuguese association of judges against austerity measures temporarily reducing the salaries of public sector workers. The CJEU may have used it to potentially reconfigure a long-standing compromise underlying the EU constitutional order, and to send a signal to Poland (and others) and preparing for future engagement with what could possibly be independent Polish courts.

Continue Reading →

Von Karlsruher Erbhöfen, parlamen­tarischer Fragmen­tierung und der Gefahr schwindenden Institutionen­vertrauens

Dass das Wahlverfahren zum Bundesverfassungsgericht wegen seiner Intransparenz, seiner vermeintlichen Verfassungswidrigkeit oder seiner faktischen Monopolisierung durch CDU/CSU und SPD von Zeit zu Zeit Kritik hervorruft, daran hat man sich längst gewöhnt. Dass das Gericht selbst und Teile der Öffentlichkeit nun aber offen vor seiner Politisierung warnen, ist in dieser Form neu, erklärungsbedürftig – und richtig.

Continue Reading →

Failing to Struggle or Struggling to Fail? On the New Judiciary Legislation Changes in Romania

Like never before in the last 28 years in Romania, huge protests have started against the ‘assault against the judicial independence’. Awareness has been raised as regards the importance of a truly independent judiciary and the disastrous effects of political corruption on the very existence of a liberal democracy.

Continue Reading →

Drama or Serenity? Upcoming Judicial Appointments at the Slovak Constitutional Court

2018 is shaping up to be one of the most important years in the history of the Slovak Constitutional Court (SCC). Nine of the currently sitting 13 judges will see their non-renewable terms expire in February 2019. The new appointments have the potential to be shrouded in drama, as they will take place against the background of a constitutional and political power struggle over SCC appointments between the President and the government, as well as broader judicial malaise in the country.

Continue Reading →