At the beginning of July Polish Parliament approved two bills which have been the subject of trenchant criticism over the past year – on National Council of Judiciary and on common courts. Furthermore, also last week a draft law was introduced in Parliament that affects the composition of the Supreme Court. The first law is the reform of the National Council of Judiciary. This reform involves termination of the mandate of the Polish Judges’ Council’s members; that the appointment of the judicial members of the Judges’ Council by Parliament and that the establishment of two assemblies within the Polish Judges’ Council (the first one formed by the 15 judges appointed by Parliament and the second one including six members from the Polish Parliament, the Minister of Justice, a representative of the Head of State, the President of the Supreme Court and the President of the High Administrative Court), allied with a requirement that any resolution by the Judges’ Council has to be adopted by both assemblies sitting separately, gives a substantial role to politicians in the selection and appointment of judges. The second law approved by Parliament gives the Minister of Justice the power to dismiss court presidents and substitute them within the next six months after the entering into force of this new law. In the opinion of the AEA-EAL these laws will inevitably involve an erosion in judicial independence with an equally inevitable impact on the rule of law. The Third raft law introduced on 12th July involves the dissolution of the current Supreme Court by imposing retirement on its members and giving the Minister of Justice the discretionary power to designate those judges who shall remain in active service.
On July 18, 2017, after consultation with the AEA-EAL Board, President Maria Slazak sent a letter to Mr. Andrzej Duda, President of the Republic of Poland, in which she pointed out lack of consultation on three bills passed or discussed in the Parliament, negative consequences that may arise for citizens’ rights guaranteed by Article 6 of the European Convention on human rights and by Article 47 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. President Slazak asked President Duda to conduct wide public consultations on judicial reform and to issue new proposals within the President’s powers of legislative initiative.
On July 24, 2017 President Andrzej Duda declared presidential veto against the bill on National Council of Judiciary and the bill on common courts as well as announced preparation of new drafts within next two months. President’s spokesman informed us that President decided to sign the bill on common courts.
You can find EAE-EAL President’s letter in English, French and Polish as well as correspondence from the Polish National Bar of Attorneys in English below.