European association of judges statement concerning two acts on judiciary reform

The European Association of Judges deeply regrets the decision of the President of the Republic of Poland, Mr. Andrzej Duda, to sign into law the two bills approved in recent days by both houses of the Polish Parliament.

The new legislation undermines the independence of the courts and the independence of the judges and leads to a politicization of the judiciary.

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2017 07 24 ECLA letter to President of Poland on Judiciary Reform

Your Excellency

I am writing to you on behalf of the European Company Lawyers Association, representing over 40.000 company lawyers throughout Europe, to express our deep concerns over the potential impact of the independence of the judiciary and the legal profession in Poland of the recently adopted parliamentary Act of the National Council of the Judiciary and the Act amending the Law on Common Courts Organization.

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The Resolution of the Congress of Polish Lawyers

The Resolution of the Congress of Polish Lawyers

The priority of the judiciary in a 21st century democratic state based upon the rule of law should be ensuring the full right to fair trial, as well as effective and swift proceedings.

The judiciary in the 21st century should be citizen-friendly – simple and accessible.

The mission of an independent judge in the 21st century should be administering justice through deciding and resolving disputes, with all due diligence regarding the rights of the citizens stipulated in the Constitution and EU law.

The proper reform of the judiciary in the 21st century requires opening a public debate on three basic issues:

- first, the organisation of the judiciary ensuring effective legal protection;

- second, the simplification of the procedures and establishing institutions working towards ensuring swift court proceedings;

- third, ensuring the independent and transparent judiciary as a prerequisite for independent rulings by individual judges.

It is necessary to involve in the legislation process the social capital that is the intellectual potential behind the roughly 100 000 lawyers in Poland with their representative bodies and associations.

A commission needs to be appointed comprised of representatives of various legal professions. Its first task should be drawing up drafts and/or bills to amend acts regarding the matters discussed during the Congress and submitting them to entities with legislative powers.

We hereby appeal for putting an end to, and avoiding in the future, the hostility expressed in the debates between the worlds of politics and law. We wish to act together, not against one another, with a view to the common good that is a stable, democratic state based upon the rule of law and meant to serve its citizens.

Extract from the position of associations of judges on the Act of July 22nd 2016 on the Constitutional Tribunal

The Parliament has just completed work on a new law on the Constitutional Tribunal. Contrary to previous announcements given by parliamentary majority, it does not end the crisis over the Constitutional Tribunal. It rather gives the executive the control over the Constitutional Tribunal , which is a clear violation of the principle of separation of powers contained in Article 10 paragraph 1 of the Constitution of Poland and threatens the rule of law.
The provisions of the Act passed, contrary to the previous rulings of the Constitutional Tribunal
 and the recommendations of the Venice Commission, require the President of the Constitutional Court to allow three judges elected in December 2015 to places previously been properly planted. The law does not allow either to the announcement of the judgment of the Constitutional Tribunal of March 9th 2016.
The most curious record of the Act is the solution, which violates the principle of making the Tribunal's decisions by majority vote. This regulation allows a few judges of the Tribunal to block the judgment despite the support of a specific decision by a majority of the judges of the Court.
The changes relating to the order of the recognition of the cases, rules of election of the President of the Constitutional Tribunal and disciplinary responsibility of judges clearly violate the independence of the constitutional court.
The new law deprives the Constitutional Tribunal the possibility to exercise effective control over the activities of the constitutional legislative authority. This is a systemic threat to the rule of law and thus the rights of citizens guaranteed by the provisions of the Constitution.

Signed by the Boards of:

The Polish Judges Association  “IUSTITIA”               The Association of the Judges Themis

The Association of the Family Judges in Poland     The Association of the Family Judges Pro Familia