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CJEU judgment: common position of civil society organisations

Today, thirteen NGOs presented a report on the impact of the judgment of the Court of Justice of the European Union of 19 November 2019, in which the CJEU ruled on the status of the Disciplinary Chamber of the Polish Supreme Court and the National Council of the Judiciary.

The signatory NGOs noted that the CJEU resolved that the judicial appointments process must satisfy the requirements of effective judicial protection. The Court held that Polish courts, as EU courts, must meet the standards defined in the judgment.

The Luxembourg Court did, however, point out a number of circumstances that should be taken into account by the court making such an assessment. It should take into account all relevant matters of law and of fact. The CJEU also highlighted the issues that will have to be considered in the realities of a specific case in which a question has been referred for a preliminary ruling. The Court mentioned, among others, irregularities in the appointment of NCJ members, the political bias of some of these members and the lack of effective judicial review of NCJ decisions. The CJEU addressed the organisational autonomy of the Disciplinary Chamber and its exclusive jurisdiction to hear cases concerning the compulsory retirement of judges.

In their common position, the NGOs point out that the CJEU judgment paves the way for Polish courts to review the independence of other courts, not only the Disciplinary Chamber. The NGOs call on all actors of the Polish justice system to consider refraining from any acts that could jeopardise legal security or the individual’s right to a court.

They also point out that the enforcement of the CJEU judgment is an obligation incumbent on all the authorities of the Republic of Poland. The NGOs believe that the judgment should be executed immediately and with full respect for the rights of citizens who have placed their trust in the Polish justice system. In their view, a failure to execute the judgment would contribute to the deepening of legal chaos and result in the judgments of Polish courts being denied recognition by courts of other EU Member States.

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