Deans of the faculties of law of 13 universities in Poland condemn the proposed changes into judiciary
According to the deans of law departments of 13 universities around Poland, the bill submitted to the Sejm by Law and Justice unconstitutionally restricts the fundamental rights and freedoms of judges, as citizens of the Republic of Poland, and introduces disciplinary liability of judges for their judicial activity which is in compliance with the applicable law
The deans of the faculties of law of Poland’s most important universities issued a joint position on the members’ bill prohibiting judges from complying with the CJEU judgment and extending the disciplinary liability of judges, prosecutors and attorneys-at-law.
The bill, which also received a devastating assesment from the Supreme Court, was received by the Sejm at night on 12–13 December.
‘We consider it our duty to present our joint position to the public and to indicate to those in power in the country that passing the proposed solutions will undermine the fundamental constitutional principles on the basis of which the Republic of Poland functions, which arise from both the Constitution and European Union law.
The consequence of the proposed changes becoming effective will not only be the increase in the current legal chaos, but primarily the deprival of citizens of the real right to an independent and impartial hearing.
In its current shape, the bill is a serious threat to the functioning of a democratic state governed by the rule of law and judicial protection of individual rights, while the solutions contained in it require extensive reflection as to their potential, and largely irreversible legal effects. Its adoption may deprive the citizens of the Republic of Poland of their constitutional right to a ‘fair and public hearing of their case, without undue delay, before a competent, impartial and independent court’ (Article 45, para. 1 of the Polish Constitution),’ – write the deans.
The deans criticize the bill because:
- it limits the autonomy of the judicial associations, as well as the rights of their governing bodies, to an excessive extent, expanding the powers of the bodies which are appointed by and dependent on the Minister of Justice;
- it removes the issue of legality of the establishment and functioning of the bodies settling matters of citizens from judicial control in the situation in which the obligation to examine this arises not only from the applicable law, but also from two recent judgments, i.e. the judgment of the Supreme Court of 5 December 2019 (III PO 7/18) and the judgment of the Court of Justice of the European Union of 19 November 2019 (C-585/18, C-624/18 and C-625/18);
- it unconstitutionally limits the fundamental rights and freedoms of judges as citizens of the Republic of Poland, including their right to associate, their right to privacy, their right to criticize the authorities and participate in public life and their right to obtain information and freedom of expression;
- it introduces disciplinary liability for judges for their judicial activity which is in compliance with the applicable law and enables the removal of judges from service if they directly apply the provisions of the Constitution or European Union law.
- the bill changes the method of election of the First President of the Supreme Court, making the procedure for selecting candidates for this office similar to the constitutional procedure of electing the current President of the Constitutional Tribunal, which gives rise to serious doubts to this day.
The position was signed by the deans of the faculties of law of the Jagiellonian University, the University of Warsaw, the University of Silesia, the University of Wrocław, the Maria Curie-Skłodowska University in Lublin, the University of Gdańsk, the Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński University, the University of Łódź, the University of Opole, the Catholic University of Lublin, the Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń, the University of Szczecin and the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań.