Left party seeks to shut down reformed panel for judges

The Left has put forward a bill which seeks to close down altogether a disciplinary panel for judges that has recently been reformed to meet EU standards.

The news was announced on Wednesday by Krzysztof Smiszek, deputy leader of The Left's caucus in the Sejm, the lower house of parliament.

The EC for years expressed concerns over the Disciplinary Chamber at Poland's Supreme Court, arguing it was not independent and could be used to intimidate judges that the government considers problematic.

Poland has recently reformed the Chamber, turning it into Chamber of Professional Responsibility to meet the EC requirements that were a condition for Poland to receive billions of euros in post-pandemic recovery funding.

But Smiszek said the new body did not meet the EC requirements. "This law turned out to be a legal dud," he said.

"It is designed to serve the sole purpose of being a depository of all illegal judges who have been functioning in the justice system and the Supreme Court for years," Smiszek said, referring to the EC's and Polish opposition's claims that during the rule of the Law and Justice (PiS) party, judicial appointments have been politicised.

According to Smiszek, it will be hard to convince the EC that the new regulations are in line with expectations.

Ursula von der Leyen, the European Commission president, has said that Poland must meet its commitments regarding judicial reforms before it can receive any money under the country's National Recovery Plan (KPO).

According to von der Leyen, the new law failed to remove clauses forbidding judges from questioning the independence and legal appointment of other judges. She added that this condition had to be met as it is one of Poland's milestones, or key commitments, and that this would make it possible for the EC to unblock the first payment from the recovery funds. She also admitted that the entire law regarding the disciplinary system had not yet been evaluated by the EC.