The judge and spokesman of the Supreme Court, Aleksander Stępkowski, said that the first president of the Supreme Court, Małgorzata Manowska, extended the orders limiting the activities of the Disciplinary Chamber until January 31. In two ordinances of August, Manowska partially froze the work of the Chamber, which, in the opinion of many lawyers, constitutionalists and judges, is not a court within the meaning of the law.
Judge Stępkowski informed that the ordinances limiting the activities of the Disciplinary Chamber being challenged as an independent body with regard to the incoming disciplinary and immunity cases of judges were extended by the first president of the Supreme Court, Małgorzata Manowska, until January 31, 2022.
He noted that such a date had already been indicated in some of the July letters of the first chairman of the Supreme Court, addressed at that time to the president, prime minister and marshals of the Sejm and Senate.
– In those cases in which panels in the Disciplinary Chamber have been appointed, judges have exclusive competence there when it comes to handling these matters – he explained. However, as he added, as a rule, new judges are not appointed and “this situation will continue as it was”.
At the beginning of August, the first president of the Supreme Court Małgorzata Manowska ordered new disciplinary cases of judges and immunity cases of judges to go to the secretariat of the first president of the Supreme Court, while the course of cases that are already in the Disciplinary Chamber is to be decided by its president or the composition to which they have been assigned.
The ordinances were to be applied “until the introduction of legislative solutions to the Polish legal system enabling the effective functioning of the professional liability system of judges in the Republic of Poland”, but not longer than until November 15th.
The ordinances were related to the rulings of the European Court of Justice, which ruled in mid-July that the system of disciplinary liability of judges in Poland is inconsistent with European Union law. The day before, the CJEU obliged Poland to suspend the application of provisions concerning, in particular, the powers of the Disciplinary Chamber, also in matters such as the lifting of judicial immunities.
Manowska wrote to the president
In a letter sent to President Duda at that time, the first president of the Supreme Court appealed to consider taking advantage of the competences of a legislative initiative that would allow the system of disciplinary liability to function “effectively and without objections” in Poland. On the other hand, in letters addressed to the prime minister and the marshals of the Sejm and Senate, the first president of the Supreme Court appealed for legislative work that would allow the system to function “effectively and without objections”.
As Judge Stępkowski reported on Wednesday, “after talking to the president and getting to know the state of work in the President’s Chancellery, President Manowska decided to extend the validity of her ordinances.” He added that the content of the new ordinances was unchanged, indicating “only a new date” to which they are to apply.
According to unofficial information from PAP close to the presidential office from the last few days, it appeared that before a decision was made regarding the referral of court bills prepared by the Ministry of Justice and the government to parliament, President Andrzej Duda would consult with government representatives on this matter.
The Disciplinary Chamber removes judges from adjudicating
On Tuesday, the Disciplinary Chamber of the Supreme Court suspended Maciej Ferek, judge of the Krakow district court in official activities, she also decided to reduce his salary by half. In mid-October, the Disciplinary Chamber was considering a similar case, but then it decided to revoke the president’s order to interrupt the performance of official duties against one of the judges in Łódź.
Main photo source: TVN24