Collegiality and Dissent in Polish Administrative Courts

Exploring Judicial Interactions




Dissent, Dissenting Opinion, Collegiality, Judges, Judicial Independence, Law and Emotions


This article addresses a gap in existing research by focusing on the often-neglected realm of judicial interactions and internal dynamics within specific courts concerning the phenomenon of votum separatum. We examine the forms and practices of collegiality within Polish administrative courts and their influence on judges' decisions to file dissenting opinions. Additionally, we investigate the reactions of fellow judges when a dissent is announced.

Our qualitative research methodology relies on in-depth interviews to prevent the imposition of predefined categories. Participants were encouraged to recount their experiences related to composing or participating in decisions involving dissenting opinions. This approach led to the emergence of categories related to collegiality, its functions, and inherent tensions.

Our findings reveal that collegiality manifests in various forms beyond panel deliberations. Notably, our research uncovers the existence of departmental meetings in provincial administrative courts where issues addressed in dissenting opinions are discussed. Furthermore, judges' perspectives indicate that the most common scenario leading to dissenting opinions arises when judges from different panels reach opposing decisions. This dilemma prompts judges to choose between adhering to the initial panel's decision or voting for a divergent position proposed by the second panel.

Finally, our observations within courtrooms highlight that the ideal of the dispassionate judge does not exclude subtle expressions of surprise or disappointment. These findings enrich our understanding of judicial interactions, shedding light on the complexities of collegiality and dissent within the context of Polish administrative courts.

Author Biography

Maciej Wojciechowski, University of Gdańsk

Faculty of Law and Administration
ul. Jana Bażyńskiego 6
80-309 Gdańsk; Poland.


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How to Cite

Wojciechowski, M. (2024). Collegiality and Dissent in Polish Administrative Courts: Exploring Judicial Interactions. Bratislava Law Review, 8(1), 49–66.

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