The Sejm passed the law on the National Council of the Judiciary. The President has already announced that he will veto it

Share

Journalist at OKO.press.

More

After several months of work, the Sejm adopted an amendment to the law on the National Council of the Judiciary. The new Council is to be elected by judges, not by parliamentarians. The President has already announced that he will veto the law. The main point of contention is the exclusion of so-called "neo-judges" from the possibility of candidacy.



On Friday, April 12th, the Sejm passed in the third reading the amendment to the law on the National Council of the Judiciary. The project is a response to the crisis related to the formation of the Council (referred to as the neo-KRS), which has been functioning since 2018. According to the jurisprudence of the Supreme Court, the Supreme Administrative Court, the Court of Justice of the European Union, and the European Court of Human Rights, it is inconsistent with the Polish Constitution and does not meet international standards.

 

The main issue is that the judges who are members of the Council are elected by the Sejm, and the majority of them have strong ties to the executive branch. Additionally, they assumed their positions after the term of the Council prior to 2018 was interrupted before the constitutional deadline. The current KRS is considered a source of problems with the rule of law in Poland because both Polish and international jurisprudence question the status of judges appointed through procedures before this body.

 

The Ministry of Justice presented the KRS reform project in January. In February, after being reviewed by dozens of institutions (including courts and legal organizations), the project was submitted to the Sejm. Work on it lasted almost two months, and one of the stages was a public hearing held on March 26th.

 

The National Council of the Judiciary (KRS) to be elected by judges

The bill adopted today proposes that 15 member-judges of the KRS would be elected by judges, not by members of parliament, as has been the case since 2018. The elections are to be organized by the State Electoral Commission. The fifteen member-judges of the Council are to consist of:

 

– one Supreme Court judge,
– two appellate court judges,
– three district court judges,
– six regional court judges,
– one military court judge,
– one Supreme Administrative Court judge,
– one judge from the provincial administrative court.

 

Groups of judges would be able to nominate candidates – 40 district court judges, 25 regional court judges, and 10 appellate court judges. Additionally, candidates could be nominated by the National Bar Council, the National Council of Legal Advisors, and the National Notary Council. The right to support a candidate’s nomination for membership in the Council and to stand as a candidate for membership in the Council is not granted to retired judges. Also, judges appointed through procedures before the neo-KRS cannot run, unless they return to a position held through a procedure before 2018.

 

The bill also provides for the establishment of a Social Council operating alongside the KRS, which is to have an advisory character. It is to consist of one person nominated by the National Bar Council, the National Council of Legal Advisors, the National Notary Council, the Main Council of Science and Higher Education, the National Chamber of Judicial Officers, the Ombudsman, and three representatives of non-governmental organizations appointed by the Council for Public Benefit Activities.

 

The current KRS is to conclude its work on the day the election results for the Council shaped by the new law are announced.

 

President announced veto

Both the Law and Justice (PiS) party and the Confederation were against the amendment to the law. Arguments were raised that the new method of electing members of the KRS by judges themselves is a return to “judicracy” and also undermines Poland’s sovereignty because it is a response to international jurisprudence. Requests for the rejection of the law in its entirety were unsuccessful. Therefore, PiS proposed amendments, which included allowing the current KRS to complete its term, with new elections to be held only in 2026. Additionally, the so-called “neo-judges” would gain the right to stand in these elections. These proposals were rejected by the Sejm.

 

The President has already announced that he will veto this law. In an interview with Dziennik Gazeta Prawna, he stated that the current KRS is the only one in history that has not been challenged by the Constitutional Tribunal. The President refers, of course, to the “judgments” of the politicized Constitutional Tribunal under Julia Przyłębska, which in 2021 ruled that the KRS before 2017 was unconstitutional, while its new form is considered constitutional.

 

But in the conversation, an argument was also made regarding the participation of the so-called “neo-judges” in the selection procedure:

 

“This law will not gain my approval in this form because there is no basis for differentiating judges. Judges received their nominations from the President of the Republic of Poland, took oaths, and all have equal status,” said Andrzej Duda.

 

What about the exclusion of neo-judges?

Interestingly, during the drafting of the law, social organizations also drew attention to the issue of excluding so-called neo-judges from the first selection procedure. In an opinion on the project, analysts from the Civil Development Foundation recommended an amendment to delete such a provision.

 

“We consider this solution unjustified and disproportionate. It should be noted that the identified violations of the requirements for effective judicial protection and the right to a fair trial concern only the adjudication by judges appointed at the request of the current KRS and their sitting in court panels. None of the decisions binding the Republic of Poland have questioned their status as judges; moreover, the state itself honors this status, recognizing issued judgments and paying salaries to these judges. The fact that the participation of a certain group of judges in adjudicating panels results in a violation of the right to a court and entails appropriate procedural consequences does not justify depriving them of the passive electoral right in elections to the Council. This solution could be acceptable if the KRS itself were given the competence to reassess the nomination process of judges appointed at the request of the current Council, or the ability of these judges to ensure effective judicial protection.”

 

Similar views were also expressed by the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights.

 

However, the solution contained in the project was deemed acceptable in an urgent periodic opinion prepared by the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights of the OSCE.

 

“Such an approach may be justified as an initial, exceptional transitional measure applicable to the first elections of the KRS in its new composition, before resolving a much broader and more controversial issue related to the status of judges appointed or promoted by the KRS after its composition changed following the 2017 reform,” reads the opinion published on April 8th.

 

The OSCE emphasizes that the adoption of the project should be accompanied by “a more comprehensive judiciary reform aimed at addressing systemic deficiencies in the judicial system in Poland and the status of all judges appointed in flawed proceedings involving the KRS in its composition after the 2017 amendment.”

 

The draft law on the KRS is just one part of the rule of law restoration package announced by Minister of Justice Adam Bodnar. Also in preparation are laws that will address the status of the so-called neo-judges.

 

In its urgent opinion, the OSCE also addressed the issue of the termination of the current KRS’s work. Experts considered that in light of serious shortcomings in the formation of the Council, ending its work ahead of schedule “seems to be a justified solution, provided it remains an exceptional (one-time) measure in the given extraordinary circumstances.”

 

The article was published in Polish in OKO.press on 12 April 2024.



Author


Journalist at OKO.press.


More

Published

May 23, 2024

Tags

Supreme CourtConstitutional TribunalDisciplinary ChamberPolandjudgesdisciplinary proceedingsrule of lawZbigniew ZiobroNational Council of the JudiciaryCourt of Justice of the EUjudicial independenceEuropean CommissionEuropean UnionAndrzej DudaMałgorzata ManowskaCourt of JusticeEuropean Court of Human RightsMinister of JusticeIgor Tuleyadisciplinary systemAdam Bodnarmuzzle lawJarosław KaczyńskiNational Recovery PlanCJEUMateusz MorawieckiCommissioner for Human Rightsneo-judgesCourt of Justice of the European UniondemocracyPrzemysław RadzikWaldemar ŻurekNational Council for Judiciarypresidential electionselectionselections 2023disciplinary commissionercriminal lawJulia PrzyłębskaPiotr SchabKamil Zaradkiewiczmedia freedomharassmentpreliminary rulingsHungarySupreme Administrative Courtelections 2020K 3/21Dagmara Pawełczyk-WoickajudiciaryFirst President of the Supreme CourtŁukasz PiebiakprosecutorsPresidentRecovery FundBeata MorawiecPaweł JuszczyszynProsecutor GeneralMichał Lasotafreedom of expressionMaciej NawackiEuropean Arrest WarrantSejmprosecutionCOVID-19Regional Court in KrakówCriminal ChamberNational ProsecutorConstitutionPrime MinisterMinistry of JusticecourtsMałgorzata GersdorfMarek SafjanEU budgetdisciplinary liability for judgesMaciej FerekOSCEWojciech HermelińskiExtraordinary Control and Public Affairs ChamberIustitiacriminal proceedingsWłodzimierz WróbelVenice Commissionconditionality mechanismAleksander StepkowskiTHEMISLabour and Social Security ChamberStanisław BiernatPiScommission on Russian influenceStanisław PiotrowiczPresident of the Republic of PolandNCJimmunityconditionalityAnna DalkowskaJustice FundcorruptionLaw and JusticeNational Public ProsecutorCouncil of Europefreedom of assemblyKrystian MarkiewiczreformsReczkowicz and Others v. PolandKrzysztof Parchimowiczacting first president of the Supreme Court2017policeSenateAndrzej Zollmedia independenceSLAPPdefamationStrategic Lawsuits Against Public ParticipationLGBTJustice Defence Committee – KOSEwa ŁętowskaDidier ReyndersFreedom HouseAmsterdam District CourtMay 10 2020 electionsXero Flor w Polsce Sp. z o.o. v. PolandOrdo IurisPresident of PolandAndrzej StępkaBroda and Bojara v PolandSylwia Gregorczyk-AbramPiotr GąciarekJarosław WyrembakPM Mateusz MorawieckiArticle 7Next Generation EUConstitutional Tribunal PresidentUrsula von der LeyenLex DudaTVPmediaLex Super OmniaProfessional Liability ChamberreformJarosław DudziczK 7/21National Reconstruction PlansuspensionparliamentChamber of Professional LiabilityEAWArticle 6 ECHRP 7/20Supreme Court PresidentLech GarlickiMichał WawrykiewiczabortionPiotr PrusinowskiNational Electoral Commissionelectoral codeJanusz NiemcewiczTeresa Dębowska-RomanowskaStanisław RymarMałgorzata Pyziak- SzafnickaKazimierz DziałochaBogdan ŚwięczkowskiNetherlandsAndrzej MączyńskiMarek MazurkiewiczvetoStefan JaworskiMirosław GranatOLAFBiruta Lewaszkiewicz-PetrykowskaViktor OrbanJózef IwulskiMaciej MiteraSLAPPsjudcial independenceWojciech ŁączkowskiAdam JamrózPATFoxFerdynand RymarzKonrad WytrykowskiRafał Puchalskismear campaignmilestonesKrakówMarzanna Piekarska-Drążekstate of emergencyUkraineelectoral processBelaruscourt presidentsAdam SynakiewiczXero Flor v. PolandAstradsson v Icelandright to fair trialEdyta BarańskaJoanna Hetnarowicz-SikoraCentral Anti-Corruption BureauJakub IwaniecsurveillancePegasusDariusz DrajewiczJoanna Misztal-KoneckaCivil ChamberK 6/21Wojciech MaczugaSzymon Szynkowski vel SękDariusz ZawistowskiOKO.presselections integrityelections fairnessMarek ZubikBohdan ZdziennickiMirosław WyrzykowskiSławomira Wronkowska-JaśkiewiczPiotr TulejaJerzy StępieńAndrzej RzeplińskitransparencyMariusz KamińskiMaciej Taborowskiinsulting religious feelingsPaweł Filipekpublic mediaMariusz MuszyńskiKrystyna PawłowiczlexTuskcourt changesMarek PietruszyńskiMichał LaskowskiSupreme Audit Officeabuse of state resourcesLaw on the NCJEuropean ParliamentJarosław GowincoronavirusRussiaZuzanna Rudzińska-BluszczFree Courts11 January March in WarsawCCBEPiebiak gatehuman rightsrecommendationC-791/19Human Rights CommissionerMarcin WarchołLGBT ideology free zonesreportEuropean Association of JudgesPiotr Pszczółkowskiretirement agedecommunizationGeneral Assembly of the Supreme Court Judgesintimidation of dissentersdemocratic backslidingpublic opinion pollZiobroEU law primacyMarian BanaśThe Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europecriminal codeBelgiumlex NGOEwa Wrzosekcivil societytransferAdam Tomczyńskimedia pluralismBohdan Bieniek#RecoveryFilesFrans TimmermansLIBE Committeerepairing the rule of lawUS Department of StateMarcin KrajewskiKarolina Miklaszewska2018NGOFull-Scale Election Observation MissionODIHRNations in TransitStanisław ZabłockiPetros TovmasyanJerzy KwaśniewskiPiotr MazurekGrzegorz PudaNational Recovery Plan Monitoring CommitteeWiesław KozielewiczChamber of Extraordinary Control and Public AffairsMałgorzata Dobiecka-WoźniakCouncil of the EURafał LisakMichał DworczykWojciech Sadurskidefamatory statementsRome StatuteInternational Criminal CourtC-619/18Rights and Values Programmejudgepress releaseAntykastalex WoślegislationCourt of Appeal in KrakówPutinismKaczyńskiPaulina AslanowiczJarosław MatrasMałgorzata Wąsek-Wiaderekct on the Protection of the PopulatioWorld Justice Project awardStanisław ZdunIrena BochniakKrystyna Morawa-FryźlewiczŁukasz BilińskiIvan MischenkoJoanna Kołodziej-MichałowiczMonika FrąckowiakArkadiusz CichockiEmilia SzmydtTomasz SzmydtE-mail scandalAndrzej SkowronKasta/AntykastaKatarzyna Chmuraadvocate generalGrzegorz FurmankiewiczMarek JaskulskiEwa ŁąpińskaZbigniew ŁupinaPaweł StyrnaSwieczkowskiDworczyk leaksMałgorzata FroncHater ScandalAleksandra RutkowskaGeneral Court of the EUArkadiusz RadwanLech WałęsaWałęsa v. Polandright to an independent and impartial tribunal established by lawpilot-judgmentDonald Tusk governmentRafał WojciechowskiDobrochna Bach-Goleckalex RaczkowskiPiotr Raczkowskithe Spy ActdisinformationCT Presidentfundamental rightsNational Broadcasting Councilelection fairnessequal treatmentcivil lawMarcin MatczakDariusz KornelukNational School of Judiciary and Public Prosecution (KSSiP)codification commissiondelegationsWatchdog PolskaDariusz BarskiLasotapopulismState TribunalRadosław BaszukAction PlanJustice MinistryVěra JourováDonald Tuskjustice system reformAnti-SLAPP Directiveinsultgag lawsuitsstrategic investmentinvestmentlustrationJakub KwiecińskidiscriminationAct on the Supreme Courtelectoral commissionsEuropean Court of HuKrzysztof RączkaPoznańTomasz Koszewskitest of independenceSebastian MazurekElżbieta Jabłońska-MalikJoanna Scheuring-WielgusoppositionThe National Centre for Research and DevelopmentAdam Gendźwiłłtransitional justiceDariusz DończykKoan LenaertsKarol WeitzZbigniew KapińskiAnna GłowackaCourt of Appeal in WarsawOsiatyński'a ArchiveEUUS State DepartmentAssessment Actenvironmentextraordinary commissionWhite PaperKaspryszyn v PolandNCR&DNCBiREuropean Anti-Fraud Office OLAFJustyna WydrzyńskaAgnieszka Brygidyr-DoroszJoanna KnobelCrimes of espionageJędrzej Dessoulavy-ŚliwińskiMarek Piertuszyńskihate speechhate crimesmedia taxadvertising taxmediabezwyboruJacek KurskiKESMAIndex.huGrzęda v PolandŻurek v PolandPrzemysław CzarnekJacek CzaputowiczMarcin RomanowskiElżbieta KarskaPrzemysła Radzikmedia lawRafał TrzaskowskiSobczyńska and Others v PolandTelex.huJelenForum shoppingFirst President of the Suprme CourtEuropean Economic and Social CommitteeSebastian KaletaOrganization of Security and Co-operation in EuropeC-156/21C-157/21foreign agents lawArticle 2Rome IIJózsef SzájerChamber of Extraordinary VerificationKlubrádióequalityGazeta WyborczaLGBT free zonesPollitykaBrussels Ilegislative practiceENAZbigniew BoniekAK judgmentautocratizationMultiannual Financial FrameworkOpenbaar MinisterieRegional Court in Amsterdamabortion rulingArticle 10 ECHRprotestsinterim measuresLeszek MazurIrena MajcherAmsterdamLMmutual trustthe Regional Court in Warsawpublic broadcasterUnited NationsForum Współpracy Sędziówthe NetherlandsDenmarkact on misdemeanoursCivil Service ActParliamentary Assembly of the Council of EuropeNorwegian Ministry of Foreign AffairsNorwegian fundsNorwayKraśnikOmbudsmanKarlsruheAusl 301 AR 104/19SwedenFinlandMariusz KrasońC-487/19GermanyCelmerC354/20 PPUC412/20 PPUIrelandMarek AstLSOright to protestSławomir JęksaWiktor JoachimkowskiRoman Giertychtrans-Atlantic valuesMichał WośMinistry of FinancelawyersMirosław Wróblewskirepressive actborderprimacyEU treatiesAgnieszka Niklas-BibikSłupsk Regional CourtMaciej RutkiewiczAct of 20 December 2019Amnesty InternationalJacek SasinEvgeni TanchevKochenovPechPaulina Kieszkowska-KnapikMaria Ejchart-DuboisAgreement for the Rule of LawPorozumienie dla PraworządnościAct sanitising the judiciaryFreedom in the WorldECJErnest BejdaThe First President of the Supreme CourtMaciej CzajkaMariusz JałoszewskiŁukasz RadkepolexitFrackowiakDolińska-Ficek and Ozimek v PolandRzeszówKoen LenaertsharrassmentOlimpia Barańska-Małuszeinfringment actionHudocPKWKonrad SzymańskiPiotr BogdanowiczPiotr BurasLeon KieresIpsosEU valuesNational Prosecutor’s OfficeBogdan ŚwiączkowskiDisicplinary ChamberTribunal of StateOlsztyn courtPrzemysła CzarnekEducation MinisterENCJauthoritarian equilibriumArticle 258postal voteTVNjournalistslexTVNEwa MaciejewskaGerard BirgfellerPolish mediaAlina CzubieniakSimpson judgmentpostal vote billclientelismoligarchic systemEuropean Public Prosecutor's Officeresolution of 23 January 2020Polish National FoundationLux VeritatisMałgorzata BednarekPiotr WawrzykIsrael