Head of Poland’s ruling party announces next phase of judicial reform

The head of the ruling Law and Justice Party, Jarosław Kaczyński, has revealed some of the details to be included in the upcoming reform of the Polish judiciary, including the reorganisation of the court system so that cassations will take place in “large regional courts” while courts that were previously classified as district courts will become official branches of regional courts.

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Under the new system, the Supreme Court will be small and its task will be to organise jurisprudence.

Interviewed by commercial RMF FM about a draft law that will initiate the next step of the country’s judicial reform, the party leader stated "the committee of which I am the chairman approved this draft many months ago".

He added that the reform would introduce an order in which all district courts will become branches of regional courts

Mr Kaczyński argues that “it will improve the situation not only for judges, but also for all those who stand in front of courts in different roles, for the reason that today we have courts that are very heavily burdened - so that in fact a judge is not able to fulfil his duties, while at the same time, there are some courts where the burden is very low.

As he explained, "if we have a regional court in the Mazowieckie province, the headquarters will be in Warsaw, but there will also be courts that were previously district courts, and they will simply be branches of that regional court.”

The party leader stated that the benefit lies in the fact that it will be possible to transfer cases between these courts, saying “it will be possible to say to someone who has a civil case: here in Warsaw you will have a verdict in three years, but for example in Przasnysz, you will have it in three months. It is up to you to choose".

The head of the ruling party added that the reform will be welcomed by judges, saying, “those who are now district judges, and this is the majority of judges, will have to be promoted, but this will be done by law.”

Mr Kaczyński stated that the promotion would not be subject to verification of the judges unless it concerns some serious disciplinary cases, which do occur from time to time.

He estimated that the reform will entail “a serious, also material, promotion of these judges and the elimination of the current situation in which many good judges have been waiting for a promotion from a district court for many years but have not received it due to non-substantive reasons.”

“I believe that this reform at this level should not cause any revolts, because it is a reform that is clearly beneficial for judges,” Mr Kaczyński said.

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In turn, he continued, “as far as higher instances are concerned, we will have a transfer of cassation from the Supreme Court to the level of a large regional court.”

The party leader also commented on the status of the Disciplinary Chamber of the Supreme Court, which the Court of Justice of the European Union has contested.

“It is necessary to control the anarchy that prevails in Polish courts today, and at the same time it is necessary to liquidate those institutions that have completely failed,” Mr Kaczyński said. He added that “the Disciplinary Chamber of the Supreme Court has failed.”

During the interview, the topic of the party leader’s stance on a “Polexit” from the EU also came up.

Mr Kaczyński went on to say he was “very strongly” opposed to the idea of Poland leaving the EU, though he was in favour of Poland remaining a sovereign country.

On the subject of EU funds Poland is supposed to receive in connection with the next 7-year EU budget and the COVID-19 recovery fund known as “Next Generation EU”, Mr Kaczyński said that “there is no need to fear.”

In an atmosphere of conflict between Brussels and Warsaw, the final green light for transfers has not been given by the European Commission yet.

“The money belongs to us, sooner or later we will receive it and if it is a little later we will manage just fine. Poland, in its own interests, but also in the interests of Europe, must remain a sovereign state where its constitution is the highest law” Mr Kaczyński stated when commenting on the conflict between Poland and the European Commission on whether the EU law holds primacy over the constitutions of member states.