Hearing before the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights in the case of Grzęda v. Poland
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.
The Applicant's representatives drew attention to the circumstances of the premature termination of the term of office of Judge Grzęda and the remaining 14 judges-members of the National Council of the Judiciary and the consequences of this violation, including his inability to appeal against the shortening of his mandate.
During the second part of the hearing, the participants answered questions from Judges of the European Court of Human Rights, concerning i.a. the term of office of judges-members of the National Council of the Judiciary, the jurisprudence of the Constitutional Tribunal and the principles of interpretation under constitutional law, the jurisprudence of the Polish Supreme Court and the Supreme Administrative Court, and the principle of the rule of law.
"The judgment of the Grand Chamber will be of great importance for the functioning of the judiciary in Poland and for the observance of the rule of law," emphasizes adv. Mikołaj Pietrzak. "Today's questions from the European Court of Human Rights Judges indicate an in-depth analysis and taking a broad look at the context of the Applicant's case" - adds adv. Małgorzata Mączka-Pacholak.