Top Polish court rules EU court decision "unconstitutional"

Poland's Constitutional Tribunal has ruled as unconstitutional the EU Treaty provisions on which the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) based interim measures that Poland must suspend the functioning of the Supreme Court's Disciplinary Chamber.

The Constitutional Tribunal (TK) ruled on Wednesday that the EU Treaty provisions "to the extent that the CJEU imposes ultra vires obligations on the Republic of Poland as an EU member state by issuing interim measures relating to the system and jurisdiction of Polish courts and the mode of procedure before Polish courts is inconsistent" with the Polish constitution.

A legal query in the matter was addressed to the TK by the Disciplinary Chamber of Poland's Supreme Court. This occurred after a CJEU decision in April in which the EU court obliged Poland to suspend the application of laws relating to the Disciplinary Chamber in the disciplinary matters of judges.

In its query to the TK, the Disciplinary Chamber asked whether EU laws concerning the application of interim measures by the CJEU in matters of the judiciary system were compatible with the Polish constitution.

In the view of the Disciplinary Chamber, Poland was obliged by the CJEU to apply interim measures "despite the fact that these cases were not referred to the EU or its bodies on the basis of international agreements." According to the Disciplinary Chamber, this violates the principles of delegating powers to an organisation or international body.

Several minutes before the TK ruling, the CJEU upheld the European Commission (EC)'s requests, issuing a decision on interim measures concerning the Polish judiciary, namely that Poland must "immediately suspend" the application of national laws relating to the powers of the Disciplinary Chamber of the Supreme Court. This means that Poland must suspend the chamber's activities including in matters of judicial immunity, among others.

On Thursday, July 15, an announcement is planned of a CJEU ruling in the matter of charges brought by the EC concerning a new model, introduced by Poland, of judges' disciplinary responsibility.