94 Supreme Court judges appeal to the Sejm: Restore the legal NCJ and full rule of law
The legal judges of the Supreme Court, including the former presidents, are appealing to the Sejm to fully implement the judgments of the ECtHR and the CJEU and to liquidate the main source of problems with the rule of law, namely the neo-NCJ.
The statement of the 94 legal judges of the Supreme Court was submitted to the Marshal of the Sejm, Elżbieta Witek and the Marshal of the Senate, Tomasz Grodzki in connection with the start of work on Thursday 24 March on the regulations that are to liquidate the Disciplinary Chamber. Several bills are being considered – the President’s, two bills from PiS MPs (Minister of Justice Zbigniew Ziobro is behind one of these) and the opposition’s.
The bills are primarily intended to implement the CJEU judgment of 15 July 2021, in which the Court ruled that the Disciplinary Chamber is not a legal court. The liquidation of the Chamber is one of the European Commission’s conditions for unblocking the billions from the National Reconstruction Plan for Poland. But neither President Duda’s bill – it appears that this has the greatest chances of being enacted, with amendments – nor the bills of the PiS MPs fully implement the judgments of the CJEU and ECtHR.
Because they do not eliminate the main problem affecting the rule of law, or in other words they do not include the liquidation of the neo-NCJ which gives nominations to the neo-judges.
Meanwhile, the legality of the neo-NCJ and its nominations were also contested by the European courts.
The bill which originated from the Ministry of Justice actually increases the chaos in the courts even more, because it assumes the liquidation of the current Supreme Court and the appointment of a shell court in its place staffed with selected people.
Only the bill submitted by the opposition parties fully implements the judgments of the ECtHR and the CJEU and fully restores the rule of law. But the government is not supporting it.
Further to the bills regarding the liquidation of the Disciplinary Chamber and the problem with the neo-NCJ, as many as 94 legal judges of the Supreme Court, including retired judges, issued a statement, which was submitted to the Marshal of the Sejm and the Marshal of the Senate. The judges of the Supreme Court also declared their willingness to participate in the work on the bills in the Sejm commission. However, they did not receive a response from either the Sejm or the Senate.
The statement was also signed by the former presidents of the Supreme Court, Adam Strzembosz, Lech Gardocki and Małgorzata Gersdorf.
We have published the full content of the statement of the Supreme Court judges:
“Further to the draft amendments to the Act on the Supreme Court and Certain Other Acts of 8 December 2017 (Sejm Form No. 2011), the draft Act on the protection of judicial independence and special rules of criminal and disciplinary liability of judges (Sejm Form No. 2013) and the draft new Act on the Supreme Court (Sejm Paper No. 2050), which were submitted to the Sejm of the Republic of Poland, given the total omission of the judicial community from the process of their preparation and consultation, we declare the following:
- We note the attempts to solve the problem of the destruction of the judiciary that has been growing since 2016, including the Supreme Court, simultaneously noticing that the presented drafts do not implement the judgments of the Court of Justice of the European Union of 19 November 2019 in joined Cases C-585/18, C-624/18 and C-625/18, of 2 March 2021 in Case C824/18, of 15 July 2021 in Case C-791/19 and of 6 October 2021 in Case C-487/19. They also fail to take account of the conclusions drawn from the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights in Reczkowicz v Poland, Dolińska-Ficek and Ozimek v Poland and Advance Pharma v Poland.
- The presented drafts do not contain any proposals of statutory changes regarding the restoration of the National Council of the Judiciary to its constitutional functions, including the duty to safeguard the independence of the courts and the independence of judges. Therefore, we uphold our declaration that we can participate in the work intended to achieve the necessary consensus on these matters in the interest of the public, the judiciary and the citizens.It arises from these judgments of the European Courts that the main source of threats to the state of the rule of law in Poland is the formation of the judicial component of the National Council of the Judiciary on the basis of the provisions of the Act amending the Act on the National Council of the Judiciary and certain other acts of 8 December 2017, which is inconsistent with the Constitution of the Republic of Poland, and the related status of people appointed to the office of judge on the basis of resolutions of the National Council of the Judiciary thus formed.
- We would like to emphasise that, especially in the current international situation caused by Russia’s aggression with respect to Ukraine, which constitutes a gross breach of the international legal order and human rights violations, legal solutions must be adopted which fully respect the principles of the rule of law and respect the values on which the functioning of the European Union is based. It should be obvious to each of us how important the respect of these values is to the unity of and cooperation between the Member States of the European Union, which constitutes a real guarantee of the protection of the interests of our country.
The statement was signed by:
Civil Chamber of the Supreme Court
Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court
Labour and Social Insurance Chamber of the Supreme Court