The Role of Civil Society in Protecting Judicial Independence in Times of Rule of Law Backsliding in Poland



The article discusses approaches to defending the independence of the judiciary – one of the main institutional requirements of the rule of law – adopted by civil society organisations (CSOs) in Poland since 2015. Beginning by describing the rule of law backsliding in context, this article shows how civil society organisations reacted to the orchestrated threats to judicial independence in Poland. The article highlights the negative consequences of rule of law backsliding for the civic space, proving that the role of CSOs was not only to protect the rule of law (judicial independence, in particular), but also to fight the shrinking civic space. This article surveys the concept of the ‘rule of law from below’ by critically analysing the actions of CSOs in response to attempts to undermine judicial independence, providing a part of a broader ‘rule of law backsliding’ picture. The article concludes with a detailed analysis of two case studies – reactions from CSOs to Poland’s so-called ‘reform of the judiciary’.


rule of lawjudicial independencecourtscivil societyPoland
  • Year: 2021
  • Volume: 17 Issue: 2
  • Page/Article: 56–69
  • DOI: 10.36633/ulr.673
  • Published on 7 Oct 2021
  • Peer Reviewed