Nor do the recent amendments remove the Chamber`s power to sanction judges who, at the request of the parties to a dispute, inquire about the independence of another judge. The amended law is deficient in this regard for two reasons: first, the provision introduced by the “which allows judges to be sanctioned if they question the legal status of other judges and central State bodies” has not been deleted; Second, the “independence test” introduced in the amended legislation does not allow for consideration of the merits of a judge`s appointment, but only of the judge`s subsequent conduct. In this way, the new law essentially excludes the possibility of challenging appointments made with the participation of the current NCJ, thus embodying the existing system, which, as already mentioned, has been found defective by the CJEU and the European Court of Human Rights. First, the Law of 8 December 2017 on the Supreme Court (Journal of Laws of 2018, item 5, as amended) introduced an extraordinary appeal system that allows manifestly erroneous judgments of the ordinary courts to be undermined within five years of their promulgation, and for the first three years after the entry into force of the new Law on Decisions, which became legally binding after 17 October. 1997. A closed catalogue of public institutions may file such complaints, and its examination falls within the competence of the Extraordinary Accounts and Public Affairs Chamber of the Supreme Court. Secondly, the system of disciplinary proceedings for judges and representatives of other legal professions has been modified by speeding it up. In this context, a new disciplinary chamber has been created at the Supreme Court with a great deal of autonomy (independent of the president of the court), with judges receiving 40% more salary than judges from other chambers of the same court. Third, substantial changes have been made to the composition of the Supreme Court. The retirement age for judges of the Court has been lowered from 70 to 65 (but with the possibility of an extension with the agreement of the President) and the number of all Supreme Court judges has been increased from 80 to at least 120, which could mean the renewal of half of the Court`s composition.
Due to the lowering of the maximum age of judges, these changes also led to the replacement of the current President of the Criminal and Labour Chamber of the Supreme Court and the resignation of the post of First President of this Court (although the duration of his mandate is fixed by the Polish Constitution). This would greatly increase the powers of the next president. The amendments, which were eventually passed by the Polish parliament and signed by the president in June, were part of a judicial reform law prepared and proposed by Duda. Although the law abolished the Disciplinary Chamber, the Polish legal community remains concerned that the appointment structure of the replacement body – the Chamber of Professional Responsibility – will continue to have political influence: it will be composed of 11 judges, all appointed by the President. These 11 judges were recently chosen from among 33 judges chosen at random by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court from approximately 90 sitting Supreme Court justices. Many Poles are traditional when it comes to social issues, but people in big cities are generally more receptive to LGBT issues. There is an active gay scene in Warsaw with a number of gay clubs and bars. Homosexuality is legal and same-sex partners can live together, but marriage or civil partnership is not allowed for same-sex couples. The age of consent is the same for all persons (15 years).
Check out our information and tips page for the LGBT community before you travel. Kristie Bluett is an Assistant Professor of Clinical Law at the University of Cincinnati School of Law. She is also a human rights lawyer and independent legal counsel, most recently as an advisor to the American Bar Association`s Center for Human Rights and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. In 2017-2018, she counselled asylum seekers in Greece. As already mentioned, there are also a number of institutions whose work is aimed at supporting the work of the Council of Ministers, as well as its President, and are therefore directly subordinate to the Chancellery of the Council of Ministers. More information on its work and legal bases is available on most of each institution`s websites: Another concern of the Polish legal community is the lack of an effective mechanism to reinstate judges who have already been suspended in violation of international and European legal standards. Although the amended law allows suspended judges to seek reinstatement, the decision to reinstate would be left to the discretion of the Professional Liability Chamber, which, like its predecessor, was considered vulnerable to political interference from the outset. Poland. 2021. Website. www.loc.gov/item/guide-to-law-online/poland/. Jasmine Cameron is Senior Legal Counsel for Europe and Eurasia for the American Bar Association`s Justice Defenders Program.
Previously, she lived abroad for many years, working for the U.S. Department of Justice and Department of State. The Polish legislative and executive authorities have not decided to propose a law that would correct the imperfections in the composition of the NJC and lead to the solution of most of the problems. Instead, they passed a 20-year law. December 2019 amending the Law – Law on the Structure of Ordinary Courts, the Law on the Supreme Court and Certain Other Acts (Journal of Laws of 2020, item 190; The English translation of this document is available on the Venice Commission`s website). Among other solutions, it introduces the disciplinary responsibility of judges for activities or non-actions that could significantly prevent or hinder the functioning of the judicial system in the country (and in this way the denial of legality of the Disciplinary Chamber of the Supreme Court or the new NJC can also be understood). It also introduces sanctions for the activities of judges who question the effectiveness of a judge`s appointment. Any public activity of judges is also examined.
In addition, the same amending law modifies the procedure for electing the first President of the Supreme Court by introducing the possibility of choosing the President from among the judges already appointed by the current authorities (in accordance with the Law of 8 December 2017 on the Supreme Court, as amended). Critical opinions on this draft law were issued by the Venice Commission, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights and the European Commission (which decided to ask the CJEU to impose interim measures ordering the Polish government to suspend the work of the Disciplinary Chamber of the Supreme Court). All these institutions claim that the adoption of such a law could make Polish judges dependent on the executive, which would violate the EU`s rule of law. Nevertheless, this law was passed by Parliament and signed into law by the President on 4 February 2020. All these changes may increase the conflict of the Polish judicial system with EU rules and create a situation in which judgments of Polish courts are challenged because they contradict the CJEU ruling and thus European law (i.e. once a judge appointed by the new NJC sits on the jury) of the courts of other EU Member States. This situation should be observed. Consequently, it is necessary to question (challenge) the legality of the decisions of all the courts of the Chamber composed in the above-mentioned manner. However, it was also decided that it would only apply to verdicts rendered by these jurors as of Friday, January 24, 2020.
Thus, the sentences handed down so far remain legal. However, there is one exception. Judgements handed down with the participation of the judges of the disciplinary chamber established pursuant to the Law of 8 December 2017 on the Supreme Court of the Supreme Court are not illegal, regardless of the date of their adoption. The aim of this resolution was to ensure the indisputability of decisions of Polish courts (including before courts of other EU Member States). The numerous and extensive disciplinary measures taken by the Disciplinary Chamber against judges led to the conclusion that the government was merely an instrument to restrict judges` participation in the public discourse on the judicial reforms of the ruling Law and Justice party. It has also given rise to numerous proceedings before the CJEU. This situation has put a majority of the Polish judiciary on a collision course with the executive. In order to resolve emerging legal conflicts, Polish judges have started to use the legal mechanisms at their disposal.
Sometimes this meant that ordinary courts referred questions of law (concerning the interpretation of individual laws) to the Supreme Court of Poland. However, the appointment of Supreme Court judges by the President under the new NJC law and procedure has raised doubts about the validity of at least part of the composition of the Supreme Court itself.