Statutory tinkering: on the Senate’s changes to the Law on the Polish Constitutional Tribunal

The infamous law on the Polish Constitutional Tribunal of July 7th has met with an outcry of criticism among constitutional scholars. Last week, the upper chamber of the Polish Parliament, the Senate, has introduced a number of changes to meet some of the concerns. On the whole the effort amounts to little more than statutory tinkering, though. The effect, the emasculation of constitutional control in Poland, remains unchanged.

Statutory tinkering

The changes proposed by the Senate concern the powers the draft would have given to of the President of the Republic in relation to the Court.

Firstly, the enhanced role of the President with regard to internal disciplinary proceedings of the Court was removed. There will be no requirement of the President’s consent once the General Assembly of the judges decide to remove one of their own from the office (new art. 12 of the Law).

Secondly, the President of the Republic will appoint the President and the Vice-President of the Court from the list of three candidates chosen by the General Assembly, and not from the list „of at least three candidates“ (new art. 16 (1) of the Law).

Thirdly, the draft allowed the President of the Court to forego the condition that the date of hearings are dependent on the order at which cases come in. To do so however, the President of the Court had to act on the motion of the President of the Republic, thus allowing the latter crucial input in the daily operation of the Court. Now, after the changes proposed by the Senate, the President of the Court is vested with the sole power to set the date for a hearing irrespective of the order at which the case was lodged at the Court’s Registry. As a result, this power has become a self-standing and discretionary competence of the President of the Court. The new art ...

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