Court of Justice slams Polish judiciary reform, again

This may mean that thousands of local and regional court rulings of recent years could be questioned depending on how the judges were appointed.

The European Court of Justice delivered a preliminary ruling on Wednesday (6 October), stating that a Polish judge was wrongly moved between courts without due consideration or consultation.

“It became a practice of the Polish government to move around the uncompromised judges and prosecutors to shush them”, said judge Monika Frąckowiak of associations Iustitia (Polish) and Medel (European) when contacted by EURACTIV to comment.

The ruling reads, “transfers without consent of a judge from one court to another or between two divisions of the same court are liable to undermine the principles of the irremovability of judges and judicial independence”.

The specific case considered judge Waldemar Żurek, who said after the ruling, “the Wednesday CJEU verdict on the Polish judiciary is a powerful weapon in the fight against the authoritarian state”.

An additional issue in the Court’s ruling concerns the judge’s appointments. Żurek had complained about his unfair transfer to another department to the National Chamber of Judiciary, where his case was dismissed. Then, the case landed in the Supreme Court, where the Chamber of Extraordinary Control dealt with it. Here, Żurek’s case was also dismissed.

Żurek and other judges were moved because of their independence. This was a practice of court chairpeople appointed by justice minister Zbigniew Ziobro, said Frąckowiak.

The Polish court asked about the judicial nomination procedure, which should guarantee independence. The Luxembourg Court stated that “the requirement of judicial independence means that the rules applicable to transfer without the consent of such judges present, like the rules governing disciplinary matters, in particular, the necessary guarantees to prevent any risk of that independence being jeopardised by direct or indirect external interventions”.

This may mean that thousands of local and regional court rulings of recent years could be questioned depending on how the judges were appointed, warned prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki.

(Piotr Maciej Kaczyński | EURACTIV.pl)

Subscribe to our newsletters

Subscribe