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The Report ‘Delegation of Judges to the Ministry of Justice. Constitutional and Practical Issues’

Delegated judges, whose number has been increasing year by year, are becoming more and more important part of the Ministry of Justice staff. Their number has gone up five times in last five years. However, there are no detailed recruitment and selection procedures for vacant civil service posts within the Ministry, says the report of the HFHR.

Delegation of judges to the Ministry of Justice is a deeply-rooted practice in the Polish justice system. ‘The practice of delegating judges to the Ministry of Justice goes back to the interwar period’, says Artur Pietryka, the coordinator of the HFHR Programme of monitoring the legislative process in the area of justice system.

In 2009, the Constitutional Tribunal advised caution in applying this procedure, warning against abuses. Nevertheless, the number of delegated judges in the Ministry of Justice has been constantly on the rise, from 75 in 2005 to 172 in 2010. ‘Regrettably, the enhanced presence of judges among the Ministry’s staff has not been accompanied by any assessment of their performance or a review of the efficiency of the entire model’, says Dawid Sześciło, author of the report.

He notes that the law currently in force establishes no  eligibility criteria for filling up the posts by delegated judges. There is also no upper limit of posts which might be offered to judges. ‘Theoretically, all civil service posts in the Ministry of Justice, except for the office of Director General, may be occupied by delegated judges’, says Mr Sześciło.

Accordingly, the author suggests implementing a recruitment and selection procedure for civil servant working  in the Ministry of Justice. Also, in his opinion, a time limit should be imposed on delegation, the lapse of which would bar the judge from returning to judicial work. ‘Limiting the access of judges to the posts in the Ministry of Justice or imposing a more rigid legal framework on this practice should not negatively affect the operational efficiency of the Ministry’, says Mr Sześciło.

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