Polish chief justice suspends controversial disciplinary chamber after EU request
The head of Poland’s Supreme Court has suspended the controversial disciplinary chamber in response to a European Commission demand to improve the body’s independence.
The Polish Court’s Disciplinary Chamber, set up in 2017, can sanction judges, but its independence and impartiality are in dispute. The Disciplinary Chamber is made up of judges chosen by the National Council of the Judiciary, which in turn is elected by Parliament. The ruling Law and Justice party dominates parliament.
Malgorzata Manowska, Poland’s highest judge, has decided not to accept any new cases for the time being. For cases already pending, judges are required to suspend treatment. The regulation will apply until the legal dispute between Warsaw and Brussels is resolved, with a deadline of November 15.
New judges have been appointed to the various courts and lower courts who support the ruling PiS. The Disciplinary Chamber decided that critical judge Igor Tulia is no longer immune from criminal prosecution.
Collision with Brussels
The European Court of Justice ruled last year that the Disciplinary Chamber should be suspended, but that has not yet been followed up. So Brussels gave Poland an ultimatum: if improvements are not made to the disciplinary chamber by August 16, the European Commission will try to impose fines on the country through European courts.
It is not clear whether the temporary suspension of the activities of the Disciplinary Chamber will provide Poland with an adequate response to Brussels. Polish lawyer Marcin Mack Tweets The regulation only defers, but does not provide basic solutions.
By the way, the President of the Supreme Court Manowska, appointed by the head of the Polish Law and Justice party Duda, says that he is “absolutely convinced” that the disciplinary chamber is sufficiently independent.
In addition to the disciplinary chamber issue, there is another, larger conflict between Poland and the European Union. The Polish Constitutional Court will decide at the end of this month whether Polish law takes precedence over European law in Poland. This would undermine the basic legal principles of the European Union. It is agreed in European treaties that judgments of the European Court of Luxembourg are binding. Hence, it takes precedence over decisions of national courts.
In eleven minutes, NOSop3 explains what the conflict between Poland and the European Union is all about:
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