Criminal law colloquium for judges in Armenia

Participants in the criminal law colloquium in Tsaghkadzor, Armenia
Participants in the criminal law colloquium in Tsaghkadzor, Armenia

A colloquium on enforcement measures in criminal proceedings, which had long been planned by the IRZ together with the criminal division of the Court of Cassation of the Republic of Armenia, finally took place under unexpected conditions on 26 and 27 April 2018. The colloquium was held at the same time as major demonstrations were taking place in Yerivan and other parts of Armenia, during which sections of the population expressed their frustration with the Armenian government and their desire for political change.

The events, which were also reported in the German media, were therefore not just a topic of conversation at the professional event. They also required a certain flexibility in terms of logistics. This is because, although the event was held in the peaceful surroundings of the mountain resort of Tsaghkadzor, road blocks meant that the participants, who had come from various parts of the country, were not able to reach the venue on time. And so the colloquium started a little later than planned, although all the scheduled subject matter was still covered.

From the German side, a former judge at the German Federal Court of Justice, Holger Rothfuß, presented the German rules governing pre-trial custody, banning people from exercising their professions and bail payments. Prof. Dr. Jan Bergmann, Presiding Judge at the Administrative Court of Baden-Württemberg and Honorary Professor at the Institute of Economics and Law at Stuttgart University, expanded on the German perspective concerning the representation of provisions of European law and introduced in particular the jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights.

A lot of time was taken up with questions from the participating criminal court judges, who came to the event from courts of first instance, the court of appeal and the court of cassation. There were lively discussions about the lectures and about the planned changes to the laws on pre-trial custody in Armenia, the possibilities for appeal and about more practical concerns, such as the management of on-call rosters at court. The discussions were enriching for all parties concerned.

The ongoing political developments in Armenia are being closely monitored by the IRZ and are likely to continue to have an effect in the near future on the activities of the IRZ in this country.

Seminar with the Lawyers’ Association of the Republic of Armenia on the rules governing the legal profession in Yerivan

Ara Zohrabyan, President of the Lawyers’ Association of the Republic of Armenia; Jan Helge Kestel, President of the Bar Association of Thuringia; Simon Babayan, Director of the School of Advocates of the Republic of Armenia(from left to right)
Ara Zohrabyan, President of the Lawyers’ Association of the Republic of Armenia; Jan Helge Kestel, President of the Bar Association of Thuringia; Simon Babayan, Director of the School of Advocates of the Republic of Armenia(from left to right)
A seminar for Armenian lawyers on the rules governing the legal profession took place in Yerivan on 12 and 13 December 2017, organised in partnership with the Armenian Lawyers’ Association.

The event was also attended by members of the Lawyers’ Association and the School of Advocates of the Republic of Armenia.

The seminar, which was also attended by the Director of the School of Advocates, was opened by the President of the Armenian Lawyers’ Association, Ara Zohrabyan.

On the German side, the President of the Bar Association of Thuringia, Lawyer Jan Helge Kestel from the law firm Caemmerer Lenz, Erfurt, took part in this event on behalf of the IRZ.

Following an introduction into the rules governing the legal profession in Germany, Jan Helge Kestel covered general aspects of the rules governing the legal profession in Germany and the relationship between lawyers and their clients.

Especially the information provided about the professional liability insurance for lawyers and the use of information and communication technologies, including the management system for law firms, met with great interest by the seminar participants.

The discussions also covered disciplinary measures courts can take against lawyers since such measures are frequently taken in Armenia and are an important issue for lawyers.

The seminar participants showed great interest and were highly motivated.

The event was organised with the support of the German Federal Bar Association BRAK.

President of the Armenian Court of Cassation visits Berlin and Karlsruhe

Bettina Limperg (1st row, centre), President of the German Federal Court of Justice, welcomes her Armenian counterpart Armen Mkrtumyan (1st row, 3rd from right) and his delegation to the German Federal Court of Justice
Bettina Limperg (1st row, centre), President of the German Federal Court of Justice, welcomes her Armenian counterpart Armen Mkrtumyan (1st row, 3rd from right) and his delegation to the German Federal Court of Justice

From 22 to 27 October 2017, the President of the Armenian Court of Cassation, Armen Mkrtumyan, was invited by the IRZ to visit Berlin and Karlsruhe with a delegation from his court for expert talks. Similar to the German Federal Court of Justice, the Armenian Court of Cassation is the highest ordinary court in the country. Its case law therefore plays a crucial role in the further development of the Armenian legal system.

Armenian judges are facing a radical change, since the rules for appointing judges and for their terms of office, in particular for presiding judges, have been changed fundamentally and judges see these changes as endangering their independence. For this reason, the issue of defining the independence of the justice system in Germany and Armenia, in particular concerning the assessment, promotion, election and terms of office of judges, dominated talks at the BMJV (German Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection), where the delegation was welcomed by head of department, Marie Luise Graf-Schlicker, and at the Regional Court in Berlin. Here, Regional Court President Gabriele Nieradzik gave an introduction to the topic, which was followed by discussions with judges on subjects such as jurisdiction in cases of non-material damage.

There were other appointments with the President of the German Association of Judges, Jens Gnisa, and at the Administrative Court of Baden-Württemberg in Mannheim, where the Presiding Judge, Volker Ellenberger, also took time to talk with the delegation.

Finally, at the German Federal Court of Justice in Karlsruhe, the court’s President, Bettina Limperg, along with several of her judges, attended to the expert discussions with their Armenian colleagues, during which they discussed the above-mentioned topics as well as the uniformity of case law.

The informative discussions and cooperative encounters with the German presiding judges and many other judges involved provided important momentum for the continuing work of the Armenian delegation and for the ongoing discussions on reform in Armenia.