NGOs Sign Report Urging Poland to Protect the Judiciary

The Court of Justice of the European Union has ruled that Polish court appointments must be done in line with EU rules and a group of NGOs has signed a report reinforcing this.

Thirteen NGOs have presented a report on the impact of the Court of Justice of the European Union judgement ruling on the status of the Disciplinary Chamber of the Polish Supreme Court and the National Council of the Judiciary (NCJ).

Irregularities in appointments and political bias

The signatories noted that the CJEU resolved that the judicial appointment process must satisfy the requirements of effective judicial protection. The Court held that Polish courts, as EU courts, must meet the standards defined in the judgement.

The Luxembourg Court did, however, point out a number of circumstances that should be taken into account by any court making such an assessment. It should take into account all relevant matters of law and the facts. The CJEU also highlighted the issues that have to be considered in specific cases in which a question has been referred for a preliminary ruling. The Court mentioned, among other things, irregularities in the appointment of NCJ members, the political bias of some of these members and the lack of effective judicial review of NCJ decisions. The CJEU addressed the organisational autonomy of the Disciplinary Chamber and its exclusive jurisdiction to hear cases concerning the compulsory retirement of judges.

CJEU judgement paves way for Poland to review the independence of its judiciary

The NGOs point out that the CJEU judgement paves the way for Polish courts to review the independence of other courts, not only the Disciplinary Chamber. The NGOs call on all actors of the Polish justice system to consider refraining from any acts that could jeopardise legal security or the individual's right to a court.

They also point out that the enforcement of the CJEU judgement is an obligation incumbent on all the authorities of the Republic of Poland. The NGOs believe that the judgement should be executed immediately and with full respect for the rights of citizens who have placed their trust in the Polish justice system. In their view, a failure to execute the judgement would contribute to the deepening of legal chaos and result in the judgements of Polish courts being denied recognition by courts in other EU Member States.