Senior judges in England and Wales have condemned the Polish authorities for interfering with judicial independence.

The Judges’ Council of England and Wales joined European colleagues at the European Network of Councils for the Judiciary, which had issued a press release expressing ‘grave concern’ about developments taking place in Poland and their impact on judicial independence.

The concern is over proposed legislation from the Polish government that would allow for the dismissal of the presidents and a substantial number of judges of the Supreme Court, as well as all presidents and vice-presidents of common courts by the executive, and the setting up of disciplinary chambers consisting of peoples’ representatives in the Supreme Court.

The Network of the Presidents of the Supreme Judicial Courts of the European Union has also drawn attention to the situation.

It voiced disquiet over ‘interventions by Polish authorities, including calling into question the constitutionality of the appointment of the first president of the Supreme Court of Poland and the envisaged reform of the National Council of the Judiciary’ which it said ‘appears to indicate a threat to the independence of the Supreme Court as well as the Polish judiciary as a whole’.

The network warned that the interference will undermine the rule of law and mutual trust in the administration of justice.

Meanwhile, barristers from England and Wales met Polish advocates in Warsaw to exchange experiences in conducting cross-border criminal and family cases at an English-Polish Law Day.