On Thursday, on the second day of the Sejm session, voting will be held on, among other things, Senate amendments to the law on the Supreme Court. The day before, the justice committee had given a negative opinion on the vast majority of the amendments.
On Thursday, MPs will decide on the amendment to the law on the Supreme Court. According to the Sejm’s work schedule, voting on Senate amendments will take place in the afternoon.
The Sejm committee voted on Wednesday against the rejection of 23 out of 29 Senate amendments – it did not recommend, inter alia, amendments concerning the invalidation of the decisions of the Disciplinary Chamber and the requirement of internship for candidates for judges of the new chamber of the Supreme Court.
Sejm committee rejecting Senate amendments
The main assumption of the amendment is the liquidation of the Disciplinary Chamber and the establishment of the Professional Responsibility Chamber in its place. The commission said, inter alia, for rejecting the amendments concerning the introduction of at least 7 years of adjudication in the Supreme Court for 33 randomly selected candidates, from among whom judges for the Chamber of Professional Responsibility will be selected by the president.
The committee also wants to reject the amendments according to which judges of the Disciplinary Chamber would stop adjudicating in the Supreme Court on the day the amendment enters into force without the possibility of retiring. The amendments providing for the recognition as invalid and deprived of legal effects of all judgments issued in the Disciplinary Chamber also received a negative recommendation.
The amendments extending the criterion of the possibility of submitting an application for the so-called the test of impartiality and independence of a judge by removing the provision stating that “the circumstances surrounding the appointment of a judge may not constitute the sole basis for challenging a judgment issued with the judge’s participation or for questioning his independence and impartiality”.
The amendment deleting from the act the provision introducing a new disciplinary offense in the form of “refusal to exercise the administration of justice” was also not supported by the commission.
The committee’s support was obtained by six Senate amendments, mainly of an editorial nature. One of them concerns the regulation of financial matters of the Disciplinary Chamber after its liquidation due to the budget separation that this Chamber currently has.
Poland punished for failure to comply with the CJEU judgment
Amendments to the Act on the Supreme Court are expected by the European Commission in connection with the decision of the Court of Justice of the EU regarding the disciplinary system of judges in Poland. In the summer of 2021, the CJEU obliged Poland to immediately suspend the application of the provisions relating to the powers of the Disciplinary Chamber of the Supreme Court in matters such as lifting the immunities of judges. For failure to comply with this decision, the CJEU imposed a fine on Poland of EUR 1 million per day.
In addition to the liquidation of the Disciplinary Chamber of the Supreme Court, the amendment also provides for the introduction of the institution of the so-called the judge’s impartiality and independence test. The request for examination of the requirements of independence and impartiality may be submitted by a party or a participant in the pending or about to commence proceedings.
The European Commission reserves that the payment of money from the Reconstruction Fund will only take place after Poland has completed the so-called milestones regarding expected changes in the judiciary. In the National Reconstruction Plan, which is to help the economy after the pandemic, our country applies for EUR 23.9 billion in grants and EUR 11.5 billion in the loan part.
Main photo source: PAP / Leszek Szymański