Legislation disciplines judges necessary to ensure legal security of citizens – deputy prime minister

In the wake of Polish President Andrzej Duda’s signing the law, allowing judges to be disciplined with financial and other sanctions for challenging the credentials of other judges and courts, Poland’s Deputy PM and Science Minister Jarosław Gowin expressed his belief about the validity of the new law and its “indispensability” for the “legal security of the citizens.”

“No state should allow judges to question the legality of other judges! The paralysation of the election of the new chief justice of the Supreme Court must not be allowed,” Mr Gowin told Poland’s “Do Rzeczy” weekly, adding that “it is precisely because of these two matters that I find the new law indispensable for the legal security of the citizens.”

“I hope that the overhaul of the law on courts signed by the president will contribute to the rectification of some contentious matters,” said Mr Gowin.

The law was passed by the ruling Law and Justice controlled Lower House of Parliament, following the action by Supreme Court judges. They deemed the Disciplinary Chamber of the court, that was appointed by the new National Judicial Council (KRS), now elected by Parliament, as failing to meet the standards of an independent court. The government argues that the law was essential to avoid anarchy in the courts, that could be caused if judges are allowed to question the credentials of other judges.

The EC has criticised the legislation and submitted a case to the ECJ asking the European court to suspend the workings of the Disciplinary Chamber.

According to unofficial information obtained by the Polish daily Rzeczpospolita, “The ECJ wants an enormous fine imposed on Poland,” and that “it may amount to as much as EUR 2 mln per day,” should the country not “freeze” the activity of the Supreme Court’s Disciplinary Chamber. Poland’s Deputy Justice Minister Michał Wójcik stressed that these were only “media leaks”.

Meanwhile in Brussels, a motion calling for the debate on the rule of law in Poland was issued by liberal faction Renew Europe. Michal Šimečka, a Slovak MEP and the faction’s deputy head tweeted on Tuesday that “rule of law crisis [in Poland] is escalating.”

The debate could be held this week.

For her part, Deputy head of the European Commission, Viera Jourova said in an interview for the weekly “Der Spiegel”, following her visit to Poland, that “the so-called reform in Poland has reached a very dangerous moment because it could be irreversible”.

However, in Warsaw, thousands gathered in front of the premises of the Constitutional Court in Warsaw on Saturday to take part in a manifestation supporting the reforms of the judiciary introduced by the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party, organised by the Clubs of “Gazeta Polska”. According to the police, around 15,000 people took part in the demonstration.

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