ECHR decision in the case of Grzęda v. Poland
- The judgment of the Grand Chamber essentially confirmed the inadmissibility of the arbitrary
removal in 2018 of all 15 judges - members of the NCJ, elected in accordance with the Constitution, and stated that the Polish State failed tonprovide any judicial review of the obviously unjustified shortening of their term of office - explains adv. Mikołaj Pietrzak.
- This is yet another important judgment of the ECHR protecting the independence of the judiciary and the rule of law in Poland. It has particular significance today, when four years after the violation of Mr. Grzęda's rights, we are observing another politicised procedure for the election of judges - members of the NCJ for the next
term - says adv. Małgorzata Mączka-Pacholak.
The Court found in particular that the lack of judicial review had breached Mr Grzęda’s right of access to a court. It held that the successive judicial reforms, including reform of the NCJ, which had affected Mr Grzęda, had been aimed at undermining judicial independence. That aim had been achieved by the judiciary being exposed to interference by the executive and legislature.
The decision of the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights is final and cannot be appealed.
Judge Jan Grzęda lodged his application to the ECHR in 2018. The case concerns a reform of the judiciary in Poland as a result of which the judge’s term of office in the National Council of the Judiciary was terminated halfway through his four-year term.
Relying on Article 6 § 1 (right of access to a court) of the European Convention on Human Rights, Mr. Grzęda argues that he was denied access to a court in order to contest the premature termination of his office. He also complains under Article 13 (right to an effective remedy) of the Convention that there was no procedure, judicial or otherwise, for him to contest the premature termination.
The application was communicated to the Polish Government in July 2019. In February 2021, the ECtHR decided that the complaint, despite the objection of the Polish government, will be examined by the Grand Chamber of the Court.
The Polish Commissioner for Human Rights joined the case and submitted an amicus curiae brief. The following organizations also submitted their interventions: Amnesty International together with the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, the European Networks of Councils for the Judiciary (ENCJ) and the Polish Judges’ Association Iustitia. The UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, the Government of Denmark and the Government of Netherlands also presented their positions in the proceedings before the Grand Chamber. All intervenors emphasized the special nature of this case and its importance for the Applicant and other judges-members of the National Council of the Judiciary, whose terms were also shortened in 2018.