Poland about to make changes to controversial Disciplinary Chamber for judges

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Poland is to introduce changes to its controversial disciplinary chamber for judges, the head of the ruling party announced on Saturday.

“We will abolish the Disciplinary Chamber (of the Supreme Court) in the form in which it currently operates and the subject of the dispute (with the EU) will thus disappear,” Jaroslaw Kaczynski, leader of the conservative Law and Justice party (PiS), said in an interview with the PAP agency released on Saturday.

The planned changes should be presented in September, he said.

The disciplinary chamber for top judges is part of judicial reforms the PiS has introduced in recent years and which have been harshly condemned by Brussels for curbing judicial independence.

PiS says the judicial reforms are necessary to fight corruption but critics argue it leaves judges open to politically motivated sanctions based on their rulings

The ongoing legal battle between the Polish government and the EU Commission over the controversial judicial reforms has raised concerns over a potential “Polexit”.

The European Court of Justice (CJEU) ruled in favour of the Commission last month, stating that the law for disciplining judges undermines judicial independence and contravenes EU law.

It demanded that the Polish government immediately suspend the disciplinary body and introduce changes. Failure to do so would open Poland to financial penalties.

But Poland had so far refused to respect the multiple CJEU injunctions, with the government arguing that Polish law prevails over European law.

The country’s Constitutional Court, which critics say is stacked with judges handpicked by PiS, declared that CJEU injunctions are non-binding last month.

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