František Ištvánek
Author’s affiliation: Supreme Court

A critical reflection of a Supreme Court judge on the monograph „The Role of Grand Chambers in the Decision-Making of Czech Apex Courts”

Jurisprudence 5/2021 Section: Articles Page: 6-9

Keywords: Unification of case law, Supreme Court, high courts, grand chambers

Abstract: The article presents a critical comment of a long-time president of one of the Grand Chambers of the Czech Supreme Court on Ondřej Kadlec’s monograph The Role of Grand Chambers in the Decision-Making of Czech Apex Courts. In its introduction, it appreciates the importance and quality of the monograph for its analytical and objective assessment of the Grand Chamber. Through a comparison with similar decision-making bodies of the Constitutional Court and the Supreme Administrative Court, the book offers an extraordinary opportunity for self-reflection. The author of the article then critically assesses some of the book’s conclusions. It argues with the book’s assertion that the Supreme Court judges do not respect the Grand Chamber’s decisions. It also explains why not all Grand Chamber decisions are published in the court’s official collection of judgments, and argues against the conclusion that specialized small panels avoid activation of the Grand Chamber. It then explains the role the Grand Chamber played in solving conflicts between the Supreme Court and the Constitutional Court and between the decisions of the Grand Chamber and a plenary interpretative statement. Additionally, the critical note describes the reasons why the solutions proposed by small chambers when submitting a case to the Grand Chamber are often followed by the Grand Chamber, and explains and contextualizes the book’s assertion that the Grand Chamber of the Supreme Court is weak. The article concludes by expressing the hope that the monograph will contribute to the thoughtful development of the unifying activities of the Supreme Court.