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CJEU rules against Poland on judicial law

06 Jun 2023 / cjeu Print

CJEU rules against Poland on judicial law

The EU’s highest court has ruled that 2019 legislation introduced in Poland, which made changes to the country’s judicial system, infringed EU law.

After the law was adopted in late 2019, the European Commission asked the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) to declare that the system put in place by Poland infringed various provisions of EU law.

Among the commission’s main concerns was the introduction of a disciplinary chamber for Poland’s Supreme Court. The EU body argued that this body’s independence and impartiality were not guaranteed.

Poland subsequently decided to abolish the chamber.

The law also prohibited any national court from reviewing compliance with the EU requirements relating to a previously established independent and impartial tribunal.

The Polish law gives a body called the Extraordinary Review and Public Affairs Chamber of the Supreme Court exclusive jurisdiction to carry out such reviews.

Rule of law ‘integral’ to EU

In a judgment yesterday (5 June) the court upheld the commission’s objections, saying that “the value of the rule of law is an integral part of the very identity of the European Union as a common legal order, and is given concrete expression in principles containing legally binding obligations for the member states”.

The judges stated that, in exercising their powers on the organisation of justice, member states had to comply with the obligations arising from EU law, and could not adopt rules that undermined the independence of judges.

They added that member states could not disregard these legally binding obligations by relying on national provisions or case law.

‘Monopolistic control’

The court reiterated a previous assessment that the Supreme Court’s disciplinary chamber “does not satisfy the requirement of independence and impartiality”.

It criticised the “relatively broad and imprecise nature” of some of the provisions of the law, saying that they could prevent national courts from assessing whether a court or a judge met the requirements relating to effective judicial protection under EU law.

The court also ruled that the “monopolistic control” granted to a single body to rule on compliance with EU law also amounted to an infringement of EU law.

In October 2021, the CJEU had imposed daily financial penalties on Poland for failing to implement interim measures ordered by the court.

After yesterday’s judgment, these will no longer apply, though Poland must still pay any outstanding penalties due.

Gazette Desk
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