EU Supreme Court to decide on independence of Disciplinary Chamber

The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) on Tuesday said it is the Supreme Court which must ascertain whether the new Disciplinary Chamber is independent, in order to determine whether that chamber has jurisdiction to rule on cases where judges of the Supreme Court have been retired.

In CJEU's judgment, the Grand Chamber of the Court of Justice held that the right to an effective remedy, enshrined in Article 47 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and reaffirmed, in a specific field, by Directive 2000/78 precludes cases concerning the application of EU law from falling within the exclusive jurisdiction of a court which is not an independent and impartial tribunal.

"The Court considers that that is the case where the objective circumstances in which such a court was formed, its characteristics and the means by which its members have been appointed are capable of giving rise to legitimate doubts, in the minds of subjects of the law, as to the imperviousness of that court to external factors, in particular, as to the direct or indirect influence of the legislature and the executive and its neutrality with respect to the interests before it," reads the judgement.

The Court went on to say that "those factors may thus lead to that court not being seen to be independent or impartial with the consequence of prejudicing the trust which justice in a democratic society must inspire in subjects of the law. It is for the referring court to determine, in the light of all the relevant factors established before it, whether that does in fact apply to the new Disciplinary Chamber of the Polish Supreme Court. If that is the case, the principle of the primacy of EU law thus requires it to disapply the provision of national law which reserves exclusive jurisdiction to the Disciplinary Chamber to hear and rule on cases of the retiring of judges of the Supreme Court, so that those cases may be examined by a court which meets the requirements of independence and impartiality and which, were it not for that provision, would have jurisdiction in the relevant field," concluded the Court.