Poland: treatment of lawyer Roman Giertych undermines independence of legal profession
On 15 October 2020, Polish lawyer Roman Giertych was detained by the Central Anticorruption Bureau (CBA) on accusations of money laundering. His house and office were searched and prosecutors imposed preventive measures, including suspension of his right to practice law.
Lawyers for Lawyers, the ICJ and the Amsterdam Bar Association are concerned that the manner in which these measures were taken is inconsistent with international standards on the independence of the legal profession.
Roman Giertych has worked on a series of high-profile cases against the governing Law and Justice party. He has also represented various prominent opposition figures, including Donald Tusk, the former Polish prime minister and head of the Civic Platform opposition party, and former president of the European Council.
Mr. Giertych’s arrest happened one day before the scheduled detention hearing in another politically significant high-profile case, concerning Leszek Czarnecki, in which Roman Giertych was appointed as defence counsel.
According to the information available to Lawyers for Lawyers (L4L), the ICJ and the Amsterdam Bar Association, Mr. Giertych was arrested merely to serve him with charges. He was not given a chance to appear voluntarily.
On 22 October 2020, Mr Giertych’s defense lawyers filed four complaints with the court about the actions of the Poznań prosecutor’s office relating to his arrest and the search of his home and office.
Professional lawyers’ associations such as the National Council of Attorneys-at Law, the Association of Attorneys-At-Law “Defensor Iurius”, the Polish Bar Council and the Council of the Warsaw Bar Association of Advocates have expressed “great concern” about Mr. Giertych’s detention, the search of his house and office, and the preventive measures that were taken against Mr. Giertych.
Lawyers for Lawyers, the ICJ and the Amsterdam Bar Association are concerned about the circumstances of Mr. Giertych’s arrest, in particular the fact that the arrest seems to have only been made in order to present him with charges.
L4L, ICJ and the Amsterdam Bar Association are also concerned by the fact that the searches of his house and office were conducted without proper safeguards of attorney-client privilege and by the suspension of Mr. Giertych’s right to practice his legal profession by a public prosecutor. We will continue to monitor the case of Mr. Giertych closely.
Poland-Roman Giertych-Advocacy-2020-ENG (full statement with additional information, in PDF)Advocacy