On October 15, voters voted for change and a lot is changing. Nobody said that the changes in the justice system would be completed in 100 days, and certainly not in a month. The ruling coalition is discussing a draft amendment to the constitution regarding the Constitutional Tribunal, as well as a new act on the National Council of the Judiciary.
The Polish government, the Polish state, all of us, will pay millions of euros in compensation to citizens who complain to the European Court of Human Rights. – Every citizen who participated in the trial in which a judgment or decision was issued by a neo-judge may file a complaint – emphasizes Michał Wawrykiewicz, a lawyer from the “Free Courts” Foundation. This situation results from the ruling regarding Lech Wałęsa, who won the case for violation of the right to a court. The challenged judgment was issued by neo-judges. The Court went further. He decided that until there are changes in the National Council of the Judiciary, each subsequent complaint will be treated similarly. This is the so-called pilot judgment. – It triggers a line of jurisprudence that will be repeated in subsequent similar cases – adds Michał Wawrykiewicz.
There are already over 500 complaints before the ECtHR and each will receive compensation of at least EUR 5,000 – which already amounts to over EUR 2.5 million. Until the method of selecting members of the National Council of the Judiciary is changed, there will be more and more complaints and money.
– It is necessary to replace the people who are currently in the National Council of the Judiciary, this neo-National Council of the Judiciary, with those who actually represent the judicial community. Because at the moment there are people who pretend to represent the judicial community, but in fact they still represent Law and Justice – says Professor Marcin Matczak from the Faculty of Law and Administration of the University of Warsaw.
It was the PiS government that caused this situation, but it does not feel responsible for paying taxpayers’ money. It has never recognized the judgments of European tribunals. – Judgments of international tribunals are not a source of law in Poland. The source of law in Poland are acts, emphasizes Michał Woś from Sovereign Poland.
Proposal to change the constitution
On October 15, the coalition wants to adopt a new act on the National Council of the Judiciary. Its assumptions were presented – judges to the National Council of the Judiciary are to be elected by judges, not politicians. – Public consultations regarding the Act on the National Council of the Judiciary are nearing completion. This project can be expected in the government any day now. A moment later, parliamentary work, for which we are ready, assures Kamila Gasiuk-Pihowicz, KO MP.
It is clear that PiS will not support the new law, but the coalition has the majority, so the president’s signature is crucial. – As long as Andrzej Duda sits in the Presidential Palace, the constitutional system in Poland will allow him to effectively veto various bills – says Michał Kamiński, deputy speaker of the Senate from Third Way. The Minister of Justice is more optimistic. – There is a chance for the president’s signature – says Adam Bodnar.
Another problem in restoring the rule of law is the Constitutional Tribunal, which has been completely taken over by PiS. – We simply need to make a bold decision and re-establish this Tribunal. Since everyone claims that there is no Tribunal and there should be one, the consequence is simply to re-establish the Tribunal – notes Professor Jerzy Zajadło from the Department of Theory and Philosophy of State and Law at the University of Gdańsk. – This is truly the only legal way to reset the Tribunal – adds Professor Matczak.
The coalition does not intend to act on a point-by-point basis. He will not submit resolutions to dismiss understudy judges. Prime Minister Tusk has already announced that it is about changing the constitution. So that judges are chosen by the Sejm by a 3/5 majority of votes.
– There is a hand extended towards the opposition. This is a hand extended towards the President of the Republic of Poland. This is a serious proposal that says “we do not want to become partisan,” adds Szymon Hołownia, Speaker of the Sejm. PiS’s answer is standard – the Constitutional Tribunal operates legally. The president’s opinion is unknown – although he was the one who appointed understudies under the cover of darkness. There is also a problem with the coalition itself. – We will not vote with Law and Justice on changing the constitution – says Włodzimierz Czarzasty, deputy speaker of the Sejm from the New Left. The Ministry of Justice is confident that an agreement will be reached, but consultations may still take time.
Main photo source: KRS