Senate committees voted on Wednesday in favor of introducing several dozen amendments to the amendment to the law on the Supreme Court, which provides for the liquidation of the Disciplinary Chamber. They assume, inter alia, the extension of the possibility of conducting the “impartiality test” of a judge and the fact that judges of the Disciplinary Chamber will cease to adjudicate in the Supreme Court on the day the act enters into force without the possibility of retiring.
Last Thursday, the Seym passed initiated by the president an amendment to the law on the Supreme Courtwhich, inter alia, liquidates the Disciplinary Chamber of the Supreme Court, which is expected the European Commission following a decision of the Court of Justice of the European Union. The liquidation of the Disciplinary Chamber is one of the “milestones”, the implementation of which is to give the green light for the approval of the Polish National Reconstruction Plans.
Committees recommend amendments
On Wednesday, the bill was dealt with by the joint Senate legislative committees as well as human rights, rule of law and petitions. They gave a positive opinion on the introduction of several dozen amendments to the enacted provisions, mostly prepared by the Legislative Office of the Senate. As argued by representatives of this Office, the act adopted by the Sejm is incomplete and ignores the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights regarding the current National Council of the Judiciary.
The recommended amendments stipulate, inter alia, that the draw of 33 candidates for judges to the Chamber of Professional Responsibility should be made from among judges who have had at least seven years of adjudication in the Supreme Court.
Another group of recommended amendments extends the criterion of the possibility of submitting an application by the so-called test of the impartiality and independence of a judge. As the representative of the BLS explained, it is about “removing from the law the provisions that the circumstances surrounding the appointment of a judge cannot constitute the sole basis for challenging the judgment issued with the judge or for questioning his independence and impartiality”.
The committees also supported the amendments according to which the judges of the Disciplinary Chamber will cease to adjudicate in the Supreme Court on the day the act enters into force without the possibility of retiring.
The positively recommended amendments also provide for the recognition as invalid and devoid of legal effects of all judgments issued in the Disciplinary Chamber. The judges suspended by this Chamber would be returned to their posts and could not be transferred to another division for the next three years without their consent. As the representative of the Senate Legislative Office said, the Professional Responsibility Chamber would deal with all matters resolved by the Disciplinary Chamber within a month from the effective date of the Act.
The committee’s report will now go to the meeting Senatewhich is to start on Wednesday at 4 p.m.
Amendment to the law on the Supreme Court
The changes to the law on the Supreme Court initiated by President Andrzej Duda were adopted last week after almost two months of work in the Sejm.
The amendment, which ultimately went to the Senate, provides for the liquidation of the Disciplinary Chamber of the Supreme Court, which, in the opinion of many experts, lawyers, judges and constitutionalists, is not a court within the meaning of the law. Judges who are now adjudicating in the Disciplinary Chamber are to be allowed to move to another chamber or retire. The Chamber of Professional Responsibility is to be established in the Supreme Court. Of all the judges of the Supreme Court, with the exception of e.g. of the presidents of the chambers of the Supreme Court, 33 people would be randomly selected, from among whom the president is to elect 11 judges to the composition of the Chamber of Professional Liability for a five-year term of office.
The amendment also includes a provision providing – within six months of its entry into force – the possibility of resuming cases of judges punished by legally valid decisions of the Disciplinary Chamber or those whose immunities have been lifted.
The amendment also provides for a “test of the impartiality and independence of a judge”, which is to give every citizen – as the president pointed out – the right to have his case examined by an impartial and independent court. A party or a participant in the proceedings may submit an application for an examination of the requirements of independence and impartiality.
Ultimately, the amendment did not include any provisions that would allow for “a test of the independence and impartiality of a judge” in relation to the already issued and final judgments. They provided for the possibility of submitting, within six months from the date of entry into force of the amendment, conclusions that the final and final judgment had been issued in breach of the standard of independence and impartiality.
Main photo source: PAP / Piotr Nowak