Available in Russian
Keywords: disciplinary responsibility of judges; independence of the judiciary; judicial reform in Poland; “legal schism” among judicial institutions
Poland: Joint urgent Opinion no. 977/2019 of the Venice Commission and the Directorate General of Human Rights and Rule of Law (DGI) of the Council of Europe on Amendments to the Law on the Common Courts, the Law on the Supreme Court, and some other laws (16 January 2020)
On December 20, 2019, the Sejm of Poland accelerated the adoption of amendments to laws regulating various aspects of the functioning of the Polish judicial system. In particular, innovations introduce the disciplinary liability of judges for criticizing the appointment of other judges, as well as for committing any procedural actions that cast doubt on the legality of their appointment. In addition, the bill reduces the participation of judges in the process of selecting the First President of the Supreme Court, as well as in making other decisions on issues related to their practical work. At the same time, in accordance with the amendments, the powers of the Minister of Justice to appoint/remove judges significantly increase. The amendments are the last stage in judicial reform, the implementation of which since the end of 2015 has been seriously criticized both by the civil society of Poland and by the international community. After changing the procedure for the appointment of judges and the procedure for the formation of judicial self-government in Poland, a situation of legal crisis developed: the “old” judicial institutions de facto refused to recognize the legitimacy of the “new” ones. According to supporters of the reform, the amendments introduced in December 2019 are designed to resolve the current conflict. The Venice Commission, together with the Council of Europe Directorate for Human Rights and the Rule of Law, conducted an analysis of the proposed amendments for compliance with international and European standards. Experts noted the need for urgent resolution of the “legal split” in the Polish judicial system, but recognized that these measures are not a suitable solution. The Commission concluded that the amendments constitute a serious threat to the independence of the judiciary, and will only lead to a worsening of the current crisis.
Citation: (2020) Pol’sha: Sovmestnoe srochnoe zaklyuchenie No.977/2019 Venetsianskoy komissii i General’nogo Direktorata po pravam cheloveka i verkhovenstvu prava Soveta Evropy po popravkam k Zakonu o sudakh obshchey yurisdiktsii, Zakonu o Verkhovnom sude i drugim aktam. 16 yanvarya 2020 goda [Poland: Joint urgent Opinion no. 977/2019 of the Venice Commission and the Directorate General of Human Rights and Rule of Law (DGI) of the Council of Europe on Amendments to the Law on the Common Courts, the Law on the Supreme Court, and Some Other Laws. 16 January 2020]. Sravnitel’noe konstitutsionnoe obozrenie, vol. 29, no. 2, pp. 88–102. (In Russian).