The disciplinary regime for the judges in Poland is contrary to European law, the European Court of Justice ruled. According to the highest European court, the disciplinary regime “does not provide all guarantees of impartiality and independence” for the judges of the Polish Supreme Court and the ordinary courts.
The Disciplinary Chamber can suspend judges, cut their salaries or lift their immunity to be prosecuted. Moreover, the Polish parliament, where the governing parties call the shots, can interfere in the composition of that chamber. As a result, judges may shy away from rulings that are unwelcome to the government, in the knowledge that they can be punished for doing so, is the committee’s argument.
The EU Court agrees. “The disciplinary regime can be used to exert political control over judicial decisions or to pressure judges to influence their decisions and can undermine the independence of the courts,” the court said.
The disciplinary regime is part of a series of reforms in Poland that, according to Brussels, affect the rule of law. The battle about this already received a new impulse on Wednesday, when the highest Polish court ruled at the request of the government that the disciplinary committee should not care about the suspension requested by the European Court. The court is not concerned with that at all, he says.
The Polish government has also asked the highest court whether European law should take precedence over Polish law. According to experts, that ruling could have major consequences for the European legal order, which has been postponed and is still hanging over the market until August.