Hotly debated judicial bill comes into force

The amended bill about the common courts and the Supreme Court came into force on Friday.

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The bill was adopted by the lower house of the Polish parliament (Sejm) on December 20. The upper house, the Senate, called for dismissing it on January 17, but on January 23, the Sejm dismissed the resolution of the Senate.

The new regulations introduce the disciplinary responsibility of those judges “who might hinder the functioning of the judicial system.”

As of today, it is now forbidden to question the legality of the appointment of judges and “their authority to carry out their judicial tasks.”

Moreover, the bill imposes a ban on “questioning the legitimacy of courts, the constitutional state institutions and organs of control and protection of the law.”

New regulations also forbid judges to conduct any public activity which cannot be reconciled with the rules assuring the judges’ independence, such as resolutions of judicial organisations which “undermine the rules governing the functioning of the authorities of Poland and its constitutional organs.”

The new law also modifies the rules of electing the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court (SN). Each of its judges may submit the candidacy for this position. In case of trouble with electing the Chief Justice, the final vote will require the quorum of 32 judges of SN.

The bill has been strongly criticised by the opposition, as well as the EU institutions. They suggested that the new regulations might politicise the judicial system and undermine its independence. Recently, it was the subject of the debate about the rule of law in Poland, held in the European Parliament.