The Grand Chamber of the Court of Justice delivered yesterday (15 July 2021) an important decision in case C‑791/19 on the Rule of Law in Poland:

“1.  Declares that:

– by failing to guarantee the independence and impartiality of the Izba Dyscyplinarna (Disciplinary Chamber) of the Sąd Najwyższy (Supreme Court, Poland), which is responsible for reviewing decisions issued in disciplinary proceedings against judges […];

– by allowing the content of judicial decisions to be classified as a disciplinary offence involving judges of the ordinary courts […];

– by conferring on the President of the Izba Dyscyplinarna (Disciplinary Chamber) of the Sąd Najwyższy (Supreme Court) the discretionary power to designate the disciplinary tribunal with jurisdiction at first instance in cases concerning judges of the ordinary courts […] and, therefore, by failing to guarantee that disciplinary cases are examined by a tribunal ‘established by law’; and

– by failing to guarantee that disciplinary cases against judges of the ordinary courts are examined within a reasonable time (second sentence of Article 112b § 5 of the Law on the organisation of the ordinary courts), and by providing that actions relating to the appointment of defence counsel and the taking up of the defence by that counsel do not have a suspensory effect on the course of the disciplinary proceedings (Article 113a of that law) and that the disciplinary tribunal is to conduct the proceedings despite the justified absence of the notified accused judge or his or her defence counsel (Article 115a § 3 of the same law) and, therefore, by failing to guarantee respect for the rights of defence of accused judges of the ordinary courts,

the Republic of Poland has failed to fulfil its obligations under the second subparagraph of Article 19(1) TEU;

2.      Declares that, by allowing the right of courts and tribunals to submit requests for a preliminary ruling to the Court of Justice of the European Union to be restricted by the possibility of triggering disciplinary proceedings, the Republic of Poland has failed to fulfil its obligations under the second and third paragraphs of Article 267 TFEU”

Source: https://curia.europa.eu/juris/document/document.jsf?text=&docid=244185&pageIndex=0&doclang=EN&mode=req&dir=&occ=first&part=1&cid=2220107