Irish High Court halts Polish extradition request over rule of law fears and refers it to the ECJ

The Irish High Court has halted Poland’s request for the extradition of Artur Celmer, a Polish citizen wanted by Poland on charges of drug-trafficking, and referred the case to the ECJ for guidance.

In her ruling, Justice Aileen Donnelly said that the rule of law in Poland “has been systematically damaged” by cumulative legislative changes and that respect for the rule of law was essential “for mutual trust in the operation of the European Arrest Warrant”.

At the end of last year, the European Commission concluded that there was “a clear risk of a serious breach of the rule of law in Poland” after judicial reforms in Poland meant that, in its view, the country’s judiciary was “now under the political control of the ruling majority” (EU press release here). The ruling is a significant and, arguably, unprecedented indictment by a national court of the legal system in another State, which no doubt will be used to challenge Polish EAWs in many other jurisdictions.