New Challenges against the Judiciary in Romania

After a year 2018 dominated by conflicts between the President and the Government and marked by the adoption and entry into force of major changes of the judiciary legislation, the first part of 2019 brought new challenges to the rule of law in Romania, especially as regards the judiciary. All these changes aim at increasing the power of the executive over the prosecutorial part of the judiciary and at removing virtually all checks-and-balances in decision-making on the top prosecutorial offices.

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An Advanced Course in Court Packing: Hungary’s New Law on Administrative Courts

The design and establishment of the new Hungarian administrative judiciary provides insight into a new style of engineering illiberal constitutional democracy through dialogue with European constitutional actors. It is not simply the case that Hungary is undertaking judicial reform while the Article 7 TEU process is on its way. Rather, a new phase of judicial reform is passed under European supervision despite the clear threat it presents for the rule of law.

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Should the ECtHR Consider Turkey’s Criminal Peace Judgeships a Viable Domestic Avenue?

Turkey has seen an erosion of democracy in recent years, particularly since the July 2016 coup attempt. The European Court of Human Rights has received over 33,000 applications from the country. However, more than 90% have been rejected, many on the basis that they have yet to exhaust viable domestic avenues. This is a conundrum when there is no viable domestic judicial system that is independent from the state. Of notable concern is the Criminal Peace Judgeships (CPJ).

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“Existential Judicial Review” in Retrospect, “Subversive Jurisprudence” in Prospect. The Polish Constitutional Court Then, Now and … Tomorrow

Does anybody still remember what has happened to the Polish Constitutional Court – the first institution to be razed to the ground by the Polish counter-revolution? The “new court” that has emerged from the rubbles of the rule of law has more than readily embraced a new role of serving its political masters. The transformation of a once-proud and respected institution into a pawn on the political chessboard painfully reminds us of how deep off the cliff Poland has fallen in just three years.

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The Polish Judicial Council v The Bulgarian Judicial Council: Can You Spot the Difference?

On 17 September 2018, in Bucharest, the General Assembly of the European Network of Councils for the Judiciary (ENCJ) voted to suspend the membership of the Polish National Judicial Council (KRS) due to growing fears of lack of judicial independence in Poland. It was reported that 100 representatives voted for suspension, 6 were against (the Polish delegation), and 9 abstained. The Bulgarian delegation was among the abstainees, so Western commentators may wonder what the motivation for this position was.

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Prosecuting a Judge that Enjoys Diplomatic Immunity: the Case of Judge Aydın Sefa Akay

After the coup attempt on 15 July 2016, more than 80,000 people have been detained in Turkey. One of the most interesting incidents was undoubtedly the arrest of International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals’ (MICT) (former) Judge Aydın Sefa Akay. The main problem in this situation was whether Judge Akay enjoyed diplomatic immunity even from his own State’s jurisdiction. What happened with Judge Akay has manifested the deficiency of international rules regarding the immunity of international judges and, moreover, that said rules must be so articulated that they leave no room for similar incidents in the future.

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Why the Polish Supreme Court’s Reference on Judicial Independence to the CJEU is Admissible after all

On August 2nd 2018, the Polish Supreme Court has referred questions to the European Court of Justice about whether or not the forced retirement of most of its senior judges and other infringements of judicial independence are compatible with EU law. That decision is a landmark step in the serious constitutional crisis in Poland that has been going on for several years. One issue is of fundamental importance: Is the SC’s preliminary reference  to the CJEU admissible?

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The Rule of Law Crisis in Poland: A New Chapter

The current controversies on the Polish Supreme Court resemble the conflict over the Constitutional Tribunal in 2015-216 to some extent. However, the Supreme Court took new steps on August 2, when it referred five questions to the Court of Justice of the EU and requested a preliminary ruling. All five questions relate (more or less directly) to the principles of (1) independence of the courts and (2) the judicial independence under the circumstances of the rule of law crisis in Poland and thus have a potential of becoming a key aspect in the Polish rule of law crisis.

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Open Letter

We, the undersigned, have learnt that Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Poland Professor Małgorzata Gersdorf has had her constitutionally guaranteed term of office of six years prematurely terminated by a new statute on the Supreme Court rushed through the Polish Parliament and signed by President Andrzej Duda on 26 July 2018. We also […]

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The Disheartening Speech by the President of Bulgaria’s Supreme Court Which Nobody in Brussels Noticed

While many foreign commentators focus on the endangered democratic values in Poland and Hungary, the situation in Bulgaria is equally deplorable. If the President of the Supreme Court contends that there is no separation of powers and that his family is facing abuse because he turns down orders by the executive, then surely ordinary citizens, especially critics of the government, have no means to protect themselves from the rage of those who have captured the Bulgarian State.

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