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Constitutional Court suspends Supreme Court resolution

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TVN24 News in English, PAP
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Until the competence dispute between the lower house and the Supreme Court has been settled, application of the Supreme Court's resolution from January 23rd is suspended starting from the date of its adoption - Poland's Constitutional Court (TK) has decided.

The decision by the TK from January 28th was published on Wednesday in Monitor Polski (Official Gazette of the Republic of Poland).

Last week the Speaker of the Sejm Elżbieta Witek sent a request to the Constitutional Tribunal to settle a competence dispute between the Sejm and the Supreme Court (SN). Among the moot points were provisions of the constitution regarding separation pf powers and appointing judges.

Therefore, in response to this request, the TK decided to suspend the application of the joint resolution of three Supreme Court's Chambers - Civil, Criminal and Labour - adopted on January 23rd.

Poland's top court ruled on that day that judges appointed under new government rules do not have the right to issue judgements there. The governing nationalists Law and Justice (PiS) believe it has no right to make such a decision.

At that same day, Polish lawmakers voted in favour of a bill that would allow judges who criticise the government's reforms to be disciplined, setting the stage for fresh conflict with Brussels which says the law is designed to muzzle judges. The bill is now awaiting president's signature or veto.

The TK explained that it was unacceptable to apply provisions of the criminal and civil code as outlined in the Supreme Court's resolution. The Tribunal also ruled that prerogative to pass verdicts by judges appointed by the president at the request of the current KRS (National Council of the Judiciary) must not be limited, and thus verdicts issued by adjudicating panels including such judges are legally binding.

"An important fact"

The Minister of Justice Zbigniew Ziobro commented on the decision by the TK.

"It's an important fact as we face an attempt to create a certain legal chaos and hotchpotch, or legal anarchy in the Polish judiciary" minister Ziobro said.

He added that there was no doubt that the TK worked "in line with the Polish law".

"This decision is binding, generally applicable, not only by all sides of the dispute, but also all courts in our country. I'd like to draw your attention that until the competence dispute has been settled by the Constitutional Tribunal, the resolution by the three chambers of the Supreme Court cannot result in any consequences, this has been clearly explained by the TK" - said the justice minister.

Law and Justice MPs celebrate after winning the vote pushing through the so-called muzzle lawTVN24

Against the EU law

The spokesman for the Supreme Court judge Michał Laskowski said at a press conference on Wednesday the TK's decision was aimed at blocking the application of the SN's resolution, and thereby prevent the execution of the ruling by the Court of Justice of the EU. In his opinion, such actions are against the European law. He added that "it's unacceptable to have any Tribunal or national court blocking the execution of rulings passed by the CJEU".

Judge Laskowski argued, that in the case in question, the European law supersedes the Polish one, and therefore renders the TK's decision non-binding for the Supreme Court, as well as common courts. "We've agreed to this when joining the EU" - he added.

He also argued that there was no competence dispute between the SN and the Sejm and the president. "It's a certain kind of fiction employed to achieve particular results" - judge Laskowski said.

The seat of Polish Supreme Court in WarsawShutterstock

Źródło: TVN24 News in English, PAP

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