25 October 2018

Volte face as ECJ orders Poland to reinstate 27 judges

Controversial forced retirement of judges in Poland reversed pending court battle, as ECJ sets one month deadline to comply.

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has ordered Poland to reverse the recently announced  forced retirement of 27 Supreme Court judges pending the outcome of a court battle over the compatibility of its judicial reforms with EU law.

Judges remain

The court granted a request from the European Commission to order Poland to suspend immediately, with retroactive effect, the legislation which lowered the retirement age for Supreme Court judges. The reduction of the retirement age from 70 to 65 in April has so far forced 27 of 72 sitting Supreme Court judges to retire. Earlier this month, the Polish government announced 27 appointments to fill the vacancies created by the move. The Vice-President of the Court, Ms Rosario Silva de Lapuerta, has now provisionally granted a request from the European Commission to suspend the law, allow the ousted judges to continue working, and refrain from appointing replacements.

Deadline set

Poland has one month to inform the European Commission of the measures it has taken or plans to take to comply with the order. The European Commission believes Poland’s judicial reforms are incompatible with EU law as they undermine the principle of judicial independence, including the irremovability of judges, and thereby Poland fails to fulfil its obligations under article 19(1) of the Treaty on European Union read in connection with article 47 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.