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Tuesday, December 7, 2021

CJEU judgment. The Court of Justice of the European Union on the delegation of judges in Poland

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The Court of Justice of the European Union issued a judgment on preliminary questions submitted by the District Court in Warsaw. According to the CJEU, “EU law stands in the way of the system in force in Poland, which allows the Minister of Justice to delegate judges to higher criminal courts, from which the Minister of Justice, who is also the Prosecutor General, may dismiss a judge at any time and without justification”.

The Court of Justice of the European Union issued a judgment on preliminary questions from the District Court in Warsaw concerning persons delegated to adjudication by the Minister of Justice. The District Court in Warsaw asked about the compliance with EU law of certain provisions of domestic law which grant the minister of justice, who is also the prosecutor general, the right to delegate judges to higher courts for an indefinite period of time and to dismiss a judge from such delegation at any time at discretionary.

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Opinion of the CJEU spokesman

In May Advocate General of the CJEU Michal Bobek in the announced opinion stated that “EU law is against the Polish practice of delegating judges to higher courts, which may be terminated at any time at the discretion of the Minister of Justice, who is also the Prosecutor General”.

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According to the Ombudsman, national provisions do not provide sufficient guarantees to give individuals, especially those against whom criminal proceedings are pending, reasonable confidence that judges sitting on the bench are not subject to external pressure and political influence and have no interest in resolving the case. He therefore suggested that the Court should rule that the above-mentioned national provisions were inconsistent with Art. 19 paragraph 1, second paragraph, of the Treaty on European Union.

The Advocate General’s opinion is prepared independently of the judgment, which usually occurs a few months after the opinion. The CJEU judgment may, but does not have to, repeat the thesis and refer to the arguments presented in the Defender’s opinion.

Main photo source: nitpicker / Shutterstock



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