Constitutional Tribunal ruled: CJEU interim orders do not apply in Poland


Co-founder and editor of Rule of Law in Poland and coordinator of The Wiktor Osiatyński Archive, a rule of law…


The Constitutional Tribunal presided over by former PiS MP Stanisław Piotrowicz ruled that the CJEU’s interim orders on the structure of courts in Poland are inconsistent with the Polish constitution. During the hearing, the CJEU suspended the Disciplinary Chamber of the Supreme Court with such a ruling.

What happened? The hearing in case P 7/20 filed by Małgorzata Bednarek from the Disciplinary Chamber in the Supreme Court took place in the Constitutional Tribunal on 14 July from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The panel of the Constitutional Tribunal was presided over by Judge Stanisław Piotrowicz, formerly a PiS MP.


The case applied to whether the enforcement of interim orders of the Court of Justice of the European Union regarding the structure and jurisdiction of Polish courts in Poland is compliant with the Polish constitution.


Why did the Disciplinary Chamber file the motion with the Constitutional Tribunal? The Disciplinary Chamber’s motion was filed with the Constitutional Tribunal on 9 April 2020, the day after the Court of Justice of the EU issued an interim order ‘suspending’ the operation of the Disciplinary Chamber in disciplinary cases of judges on the basis of the European Commission’s complaint against the Polish government regarding the system of disciplining judges.


What happened during the Constitutional Tribunal’s proceedings? During the hearing, at 3 p.m., the Court of Justice of the European Union announced that, by order of CJEU Vice-President Judge Rosario Silva de Lapuerta, the Disciplinary Chamber of the Supreme Court cannot operate in cases of judges until the CJEU issues a ruling in the case regarding the European Commission’s complaint against the Polish government over the so-called ‘muzzle act’. The Commission filed the complaint at the end of March, together with a request for an interim measure to ‘suspend’ the activities of the Disciplinary Chamber.


At 4.30 p.m., the Constitutional Tribunal accepted the motion filed by Małgorzata Bednarek of the Disciplinary Chamber and ruled that the validity of such provisions of the CJEU in Poland is incompatible with the Polish Constitution.


At the hearing, this ruling was supported by representatives of other participants of the proceedings: the President, the Sejm, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Prosecutor General.


The position of the Minister of Foreign Affairs was presented, among others, by Piotr Wawrzyk, a former PiS candidate for the office of the Ombudsman. The Sejm’s position was represented by PiS MPs Arkadiusz Mularczyk and Marek Ast.


Only the Ombudsman objected to it.  The position of the Ombudsman at the hearing was presented by the Ombudsman, Dr Hab. Adam Bodnar, the Deputy Ombudsman, Dr Hab. Maciej Taborowski, and a specialist from the Ombudsman’s Office, Dr Paweł Filipek. Just like on the previous day, the lawyers from the Ombudsman’s Office were bravely defending Poland remaining in the EU legal order.


What does the CJEU ruling change? Under the CJEU’s 14 July ruling, the Disciplinary Chamber cannot operate not only in disciplinary cases of judges – which it could already not do under an earlier CJEU ruling of 9 April 2020 – but in all cases regarding judges, including immunity cases.


The authorities circumvented the CJEU’s ruling of April 2020 by handling criminal, rather than disciplinary proceedings against judges defending the rule of law in Poland. The Disciplinary Chamber settled the issues of immunity of Judge Beata Morawiec, Judge Igor Tuleya, and Supreme Court Judge Włodzimierz Wróbel.


What else happened recently? On Thursday 15 July the Court of Justice of the European Union announced the long-awaited judgment in the case filed by the European Commission regarding a complaint against the Polish government of October 2019 on the model of disciplinary liability of judges (which was in force before 14 February 2020, when the muzzle act, which was challenged by the EC in March 2021, entered into force), as amended by PiS. The CJEU ruled that this system, including the Disciplinary Chamber, is in conflict with EU law.


What the Constitutional Tribunal will decide next? On the 3rd of August, after an adjournment, the Constitutional Tribunal, presided over by President Julia Przyłębska, will decide on the case filed by Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki. It may announce that rulings of the Court of Justice of the EU on the independence of courts are not applicable in Poland.


Are we facing a legal PolExit? Ombudsman Adam Bodnar explained at the hearing that a judgment of the Constitutional Tribunal banning the application of CJEU rulings in Poland would strike at the very heart of EU law and could lead to the exclusion of Polish courts from the EU requirements of the independence of the courts, as well as the independence and impartiality of judges. In turn, this will lead to a breach of the EU principles of effective court protection and the rule of law. Which will be irreparable.


If we are distancing ourselves from the EU, where are we heading? Such a judgment by the Constitutional Tribunal would mean that Polish constitutionalism is developing in a direction that is similar to Putin’s Russia. A provision was written into the constitution there in 2020 that if the Russian constitutional court rules that a ruling of an international court is in conflict with the Russian constitution, it is not applicable in Russia.


What was the hearing on 14 July like? Similar to the atmosphere with which former PiS MP Piotrowicz was familiar in the Sejm. Namely, tense.


Other than Piotrowicz, the Constitutional Tribunal panel included Constitutional Tribunal Judge Bartłomiej Sochański (rapporteur), Constitutional Tribunal Judge Zbigniew Jędrzejewski, Constitutional Tribunal Judge Jakub Stelina and Constitutional Tribunal ‘stand in’ Justyn Piskorski.


Ombudsman Adam Bodnar unsuccessfully requested Piskorski’s removal from the bench. The ombudsman referred to the famous judgment of the European Court of Human Rights of 7 May 2021 in the case of Xero Flor v Poland. The ECtHR ruled that a panel of the Polish Constitutional Tribunal containing a person appointed to a place already properly filled (a so-called ‘stand-in’), does not meet the criteria of a court established by statute in the meaning of the European Convention on Human Rights.


Perhaps this conclusion was one of the reasons why Justyn Piskorski attacked Adam Bodnar, Deputy Ombudsman, Dr Hab. Maciej Taborowski, and the specialist from the Ombudsman’s Office, Dr Paweł Filipek, during the hearing. Stanisław Piotrowicz encouraged him to do so by his earlier behaviour, who, after a 1.5 hour session, irritated, interrupted the (excellent!) speech delivered by Dr Filipek and ordered a break. The excellent part of the hearing applied not to the merits of the case, but the attacks on lawyers from the Ombudsman’s Office, which were carried out one by one by the representatives of the parties. 


The recordings of the hearing in the Constitutional Tribunal can be viewed on the Video-KOD website: part 1part 2, as well as the announcement of the sentence and the oral justification of the ruling.


Co-founder and editor of Rule of Law in Poland and coordinator of The Wiktor Osiatyński Archive, a rule of law…



July 16, 2021


Supreme CourtDisciplinary ChamberConstitutional Tribunaldisciplinary proceedingsPolandZbigniew Ziobrorule of lawEuropean CommissionjudgesCourt of Justice of the EUNational Council of the Judiciaryjudicial independenceEuropean UnionAndrzej DudaCourt of JusticeMałgorzata ManowskaIgor TuleyaEuropean Court of Human Rightsdisciplinary systemMateusz MorawieckiCommissioner for Human RightsCJEUMinister of JusticeJarosław KaczyńskiWaldemar Żurekmuzzle lawdemocracypresidential electionsKamil ZaradkiewiczNational Recovery Plandisciplinary commissionerPiotr SchabPrzemysław RadzikjudiciaryFirst President of the Supreme CourtAdam Bodnarpreliminary rulingsSupreme Administrative CourtK 3/21Hungaryelections 2020Beata MorawiecprosecutorsŁukasz Piebiakneo-judgeselectionsNational Council for JudiciaryMichał LasotaEuropean Arrest WarrantMaciej NawackiPrime MinisterJulia PrzyłębskaPresidentmedia freedomProsecutor GeneralConstitutionCOVID-19Małgorzata GersdorfPaweł Juszczyszynfreedom of expressionCourt of Justice of the European Unioncriminal lawDagmara Pawełczyk-Woickadisciplinary liability for judgesWojciech HermelińskiMarek SafjanAleksander StepkowskiOSCEPresident of the Republic of PolandSejmimmunityAnna DalkowskaNational Public ProsecutorCouncil of Europecriminal proceedingsfreedom of assemblyStanisław BiernatExtraordinary Control and Public Affairs Chamberconditionality mechanismconditionalityEU budgetWłodzimierz WróbelCriminal ChamberLaw and JusticeprosecutionNCJMinistry of JusticeNational ProsecutorStanisław PiotrowiczJarosław WyrembakAndrzej Zollacting first president of the Supreme CourtOrdo IurisK 7/21May 10 2020 electionsLex DudaNational Reconstruction PlanProfessional Liability ChamberPresident of PolandLGBTMaciej FerekXero Flor w Polsce Sp. z o.o. v. PolandBroda and Bojara v PolandReczkowicz and Others v. Polandmedia independenceIustitiaJarosław DudziczSylwia Gregorczyk-AbramAmsterdam District CourtKrzysztof ParchimowiczArticle 6 ECHRTHEMISEAWUrsula von der LeyenChamber of Professional LiabilityTVPmedia2017policeJustice Defence Committee – KOSFreedom HouseLech GarlickiEwa ŁętowskaSupreme Court PresidentArticle 7Venice CommissionPM Mateusz MorawieckiAndrzej StępkaPiotr GąciarekRegional Court in KrakówRecovery FundP 7/20Justice FundPiSC-791/19National Electoral CommissionAstradsson v IcelandK 6/21Piotr PszczółkowskiPegasusGeneral Assembly of the Supreme Court Judgeslex NGOcivil societyRussiaJoanna Hetnarowicz-SikorasuspensionJarosław GowinLGBT ideology free zonesparliamentUkraineKrystian MarkiewiczKonrad WytrykowskiJakub IwaniecZuzanna Rudzińska-BluszczDariusz DrajewiczRafał PuchalskidefamationcourtsMichał WawrykiewiczFree CourtsharassmentMarzanna Piekarska-DrążekEwa WrzosekEU law primacyLex Super OmniaAdam Tomczyńskielections 2023BelgiumNetherlandsBogdan Święczkowskijudcial independenceMaciej Miterademocratic backslidingViktor OrbanOLAFdecommunizationNext Generation EUvetoJózef IwulskiLaw on the NCJrecommendationTeresa Dębowska-RomanowskaKazimierz DziałochaMirosław GranatAdam JamrózStefan JaworskiBiruta Lewaszkiewicz-PetrykowskaWojciech ŁączkowskiHuman Rights CommissionerMarek MazurkiewiczCCBEAndrzej MączyńskiThe Council of Bars and Law Societies of EuropeJanusz NiemcewiczMałgorzata Pyziak- SzafnickaStanisław Rymarpublic opinion pollFerdynand RymarzAndrzej RzeplińskiJerzy StępieńPiotr TulejaSławomira Wronkowska-JaśkiewiczMirosław WyrzykowskireportBohdan ZdziennickiMarek ZubikDidier ReyndersEuropean ParliamentOKO.pressZiobroMichał Laskowskiintimidation of dissentersMarek PietruszyńskitransferKrystyna PawłowiczMariusz MuszyńskiPiebiak gatehuman rightscorruptionEuropean Association of Judges11 January March in WarsawPaweł FilipekMaciej TaborowskiAdam SynakiewiczBelarusstate of emergencyKrakówcoronavirusXero Flor v. PolandEU treatiesAgnieszka Niklas-BibikSłupsk Regional CourtMaciej Rutkiewiczresolution of 23 January 2020Mirosław WróblewskiCivil ChamberJoanna Misztal-KoneckaLeon Kieresright to protestSławomir JęksaPKWWiktor JoachimkowskiRoman GiertychMariusz Kamińskiinfringment actionsurveillanceEU valuesMichał WośMinistry of FinanceCentral Anti-Corruption BureauENCJJacek SasinErnest BejdaThe First President of the Supreme CourtMaciej CzajkaMariusz JałoszewskiIsraelŁukasz Radkeforeign agents lawpolexitDolińska-Ficek and Ozimek v PolandOrganization of Security and Co-operation in EuropeFirst President of the Suprme CourtPaulina Kieszkowska-KnapikMaria Ejchart-DuboisAgreement for the Rule of LawPorozumienie dla PraworządnościLGBT free zonesAct sanitising the judiciaryequalityMarek AstChamber of Extraordinary VerificationEdyta Barańskahate crimesCourt of Appeal in Krakówhate speechPutinismcriminal codeKaczyńskiGrzęda v Polandright to fair trialPaulina AslanowiczJarosław MatrasŻurek v PolandMałgorzata Wąsek-WiaderekSobczyńska and Others v Polandct on the Protection of the PopulatiolegislationRafał Trzaskowskilex Wośmedia lawRome StatuteInternational Criminal CourtPrzemysła RadzikAntykastaSenateStanisław ZdunIrena BochniakKrystyna Morawa-FryźlewiczMarcin WarchołKatarzyna ChmuraElżbieta KarskaMarcin RomanowskiGrzegorz FurmankiewiczJacek CzaputowiczMarek JaskulskiPrzemysław CzarnekJoanna Kołodziej-Michałowiczlegislative practiceEwa ŁąpińskaZbigniew ŁupinaENAPaweł StyrnaZbigniew BoniekKasta/AntykastaAndrzej SkowronŁukasz BilińskiIvan MischenkoOmbudsmanMonika FrąckowiakArkadiusz CichockiKraśnikEmilia SzmydtNorwayTomasz SzmydtNorwegian fundssmear campaignNorwegian Ministry of Foreign AffairsE-mail scandalDworczyk leaksMichał DworczykC-487/19media pluralism#RecoveryFilesArticle 10 ECHRmilestonesConstitutional Tribunal PresidentRegional Court in Amsterdamrepairing the rule of lawOpenbaar MinisterieAK judgmentBohdan BieniekSimpson judgmentMarcin KrajewskiForum Współpracy SędziówMałgorzata Dobiecka-Woźniakelectoral processChamber of Extraordinary Control and Public Affairspublic broadcasterWiesław KozielewiczNational Recovery Plan Monitoring CommitteeGrzegorz PudaPiotr MazurekJerzy Kwaśniewskimutual trustPetros Tovmasyancourt presidentsLMODIHRIrelandFull-Scale Election Observation MissionNGOIrena MajcherWojciech MaczugaAmsterdamKarolina MiklaszewskaRafał LisakMałgorzata FroncJędrzej Dessoulavy-ŚliwińskiSebastian Mazurekthe Regional Court in WarsawElżbieta Jabłońska-MalikSzymon Szynkowski vel SękUnited NationsJoanna Scheuring-Wielgusinsulting religious feelingsLeszek Mazuroppositionelectoral codeAdam Gendźwiłłpopulisminterim measuresPiotr PrusinowskiLabour and Social Security ChamberDariusz Dończykautocratizationtest of independenceMultiannual Financial FrameworkTomasz Koszewskipublic mediaJakub Kwiecińskiabortion rulingdiscriminationequal treatmentabortionprotestsfundamental rightsthe NetherlandsDenmarkSwedenFinlandMariusz KrasońCT PresidentGermanyCelmerC354/20 PPUC412/20 PPUAusl 301 AR 104/19Karlsruheact on misdemeanoursCivil Service ActParliamentary Assembly of the Council of EuropeEUWhite Paperlustrationtransitional justice2018Nations in TransitCouncil of the EUmedia taxStanisław Zabłockiadvertising taxmediabezwyboruJacek KurskiKESMAIndex.huTelex.huJelenJózsef SzájerKlubrádióSLAPPLIBE CommitteeStrategic Lawsuits Against Public ParticipationFrans TimmermansGazeta WyborczaUS Department of StatePollitykaBrussels IRome IISwieczkowskiArticle 2Forum shoppingadvocate generalDariusz ZawistowskitransparencyEuropean Economic and Social Committeepress releaseSebastian KaletaRights and Values ProgrammeC-156/21C-157/21C-619/18Marek Piertuszyńskidefamatory statementsWorld Justice Project awardNational Prosecutor’s OfficeWojciech SadurskiBogdan ŚwiączkowskiDisicplinary ChamberjudgeTribunal of StatePechOlsztyn courtKochenovPrzemysła CzarnekEvgeni TanchevEducation MinisterFreedom in the WorldECJIpsosFrackowiakOlimpia Barańska-Małuszeretirement ageAmnesty InternationalHudocKonrad SzymańskiPiotr Bogdanowicztrans-Atlantic valuesPiotr BurasLSOauthoritarian equilibriumlawyersArticle 258Act of 20 December 2019clientelismoligarchic systemEuropean Public Prosecutor's Officerepressive actPolish National FoundationLux VeritatisKoen LenaertsMałgorzata BednarekPiotr WawrzykharrassmentMarian BanaśAlina CzubieniakSupreme Audit OfficeTVNjournalistslexTVNGerard BirgfellerEwa MaciejewskaPolish mediapostal voteRzeszówborderpostal vote billprimacy