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Assemblies Act scrutinised by Supreme Court

The Supreme Court adopted a resolution on the interpretation of provisions of the Assemblies Act. The Court shared the opinion of the HFHR according to which courts should consider appeals against a province governor’s decision prohibiting an assembly even after the scheduled date of the prohibited assembly.

Post-factum legal review

In the resolution issued on 28 March 2018, the Supreme Court emphasised that the expiry of the assembly’s date did not, by itself, render the appellate proceedings meritless. A substitute order of a province governor that prohibits the holding of an assembly, the Supreme Court argued, remains in the circulation and may bring far-reaching consequences in the petty offences section of criminal law or in civil law. Moreover, a uniform line of judicial reasoning can only be developed if appellate courts can examine the substance of appeals. Thanks to this appellate review, both citizens and bodies applying the law receive guidance as to the proper interpretation of the Assemblies Act.

Last minute prohibition

The resolution of the Supreme Court has an enormous practical impact: since the Assemblies Act was amended, Mazovia Province Governor has issued more than 30 decisions prohibiting assemblies. The majority of these decisions were taken at the proverbial “eleventh hour” so that organisers would not have an opportunity to effectively challenge them in court. Equally importantly, all the decisions concerned demonstrations organised in the simplified mode, which legally cannot be prohibited. This means that the province governor’s decisions were unlawful.

Can municipality appeal against province governor’s decision?

The other question of law discussed in the resolution was whether municipal authorities may appeal against the province governor’s replacement order and act as a party to the appellate proceedings. The Supreme Court answered this question affirmatively, explaining that by the virtue of a substitute order a province governor determines, among other things, that a municipal authority has failed to perform its statutory duties. Given the above, a municipality must be provided with a judicial remedy that can be used to protect the municipality’s interests.

The HFHR has presented an amicus curiae opinion in this case.

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