Seminar on German labour law in the local language

Speakers: Nevenka Mitrić, Regional Court (Okružni sud) judge and lawyer Dr. Karolina Mihaljević Schultze (on the right).Speakers: Nevenka Mitrić, Regional Court (Okružni sud) judge and lawyer Dr. Karolina Mihaljević Schultze (on the right)

On 18 February 2016, the IRZ held a seminar on "Labour law with a special focus on mobbing" at the Judicial Training Centre in Banja Luka in the Republika Srpska. The event was based on the fact that labour law, which in practice is particularly significant, has to deal with the conflict between the conventions left over from the socialist era and the Manchester capitalistic conduct of some employers in the transition states of South-East Europe. At the same time, EU law also has a considerable influence here. The latter has led to the fact that in these states, judicial practice for new legislation often has to be developed first. Orientation towards German case law is a great help here, as it is with regards to legal certainty and the standardisation of case law.

The speakers at the seminar were Nevenka Mitrić, Regional Court (Okružni sud) judge in Banja Luka, and Berlin lawyer Dr. Karolina Mihaljević Schultze. The latter originally comes from Bosnia and wrote a thesis on the law of the region at Freie Universität Berlin. She gave her lecture in the local language. This meant that subsequent discussions could also take place without any language barriers and these were direct and particularly intense.

This seminar in Banja Luka is a good example of the meaningful use of bilingual speakers, who understand German law and that of the partner countries in equal measure. This allows the speaker's experience of German law and German legal practice, which can be directly applied thanks to comparable legal provisions, to be conveyed in a way that is targeted towards the audience.

Like those in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Judicial Training Centre in the Republika Srpska is a long-term project partner of the IRZ.

Success for "Day of German Law in Bosnia and Herzegovina"

Ambassador Christian Hellbach (centre left) in discussions with Rector Muharem Avdispahić (centre right)Ambassador Christian Hellbach (centre left) in discussions with Rector Muharem Avdispahić (centre right)

The seventh "Day of German Law in Bosnia and Herzegovina" was held in Sarajevo on 11 December 2015. This series of events, which has been organised since 2009 by the IRZ and the German-Bosnian-Herzegovinian Lawyers' Association (DBHJV), together with a different faculty in the country each year, regularly sheds light on the similarities and interactions between the law in Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as in other states in the region, and German and European law.

Participants in this year's event at the Faculty of Law in Sarajevo included, as well as many students, academics and practitioners, high-ranking representatives of IRZ project partners. Amongst these, for example, were the Presidents of the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina and of the Chamber of Notaries for the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The welcome address in the Faculty of Law's Ceremonial Hall was delivered by the host, Rector Prof. Dr. Muharem Avdispahić, and was followed by a highly-regarded contribution from the German Ambassador, Christian Hellbach, who also addressed the current threats to the constitutional state in Bosnia and Herzegovina. He pointed out that the regional approach of this event is in harmony with the objectives of the "Berlin Process", which aims to bring the Western Balkan countries closer to the EU, partly by increasing the professional cooperation between each of these countries, which do not yet belong to the EU.

Some of the topics covered during the seventh "Day of German Law" included:

  • fighting organised crime,
  • private bankruptcy,
  • trust,
  • consumer protection,
  • real estate law and
  • private international law.

Critical issues such as setbacks and wrong turns in legal reform and the role of civil law as a means to discriminate against Jews during the National Socialist era were also covered. The speakers were (in alphabetical order): Prof. Dr. Slavko Djordjević, Serbia; Prof. Dr. Tatjana Josipović, Croatia; Prof. Dr. Zlatan Meškić and Prof. Dr. Meliha Povlakić, Bosnia and Herzegovina; Dr. Stefan Pürner, Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. mult. Helmut Rüßmann and Prof. Dr. Dres. h.c. Friedrich-Christian Schroeder, Germany; Dr. Darja Softić-Kadenić, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The event, which was widely covered by the local media, was also the occasion to present the five-year bound version of the regional legal journal, "Nova Pravna Revija", which thanks to an additional bilingual index section and special German language abridged editions makes research work easier and also gives German-speaking readers a deeper insight into the wide spectrum covered by this newspaper. Dr. Dr. h.c. Christa Jessel-Holst, a former speaker on South-East Europe at the Max Planck Institute in Hamburg, points out that the journal has developed impressively over the past five years to become a comprehensive regional medium.

The index and German abridged editions for all the issues of the NPR published between 2010 and 2014 are available for download from the IRZ website: All editions of the NPR 2010-2014 along with detailed index.

First graduates receive their diplomas for a supplementary study course in German law in Sarajevo

  • German Ambassador Dr Christian Hellbach giving his welcome address

    German Ambassador Dr Christian Hellbach giving his welcome address

  • Prof Dr Meliha Povlakic and Prof Dr Boro Petrovic

    Prof Dr Meliha Povlakic and Prof Dr Boro Petrovic

  • Graduate Harun Nović receiving his diploma

    Graduate Harun Nović receiving his diploma

  • Graduate Mia Softić Vinšalek giving her speech

    Graduate Mia Softić Vinšalek giving her speech

On 16 June, the first graduates were awarded their diplomas for passing a supplementary course in German law, which the IRZ organised together with the Faculty of Law at the University of Sarajevo. Following an intensive course of lectures and exams, all of which were conducted in German, as well as study visits to Germany, a special ceremony took place to hand over the diplomas to the first generation of graduates.

German ambassador Dr Christian Hellbach took the opportunity to highlight the significance of young legal talent for the future of the country and emphasised the importance of this additional qualification. This was also confirmed by the Dean of the Faculty, Prof Dr Boro Petrovic, and the Vice Dean for international relations, Prof Dr Meliha Povlakic. Both underlined the importance of the cooperation with the IRZ and the support provided by the Foreign Office for this work.

The main part of the ceremony was taken up by reports from Ezmana Turković, Mia Softić Vinšalek and Harun Nović in presentations on the supplementary course. Ezmana Turković emphasised that she had gained a lot of knowledge that would help her in her legal practice and with her work with German clients. Harun Nović pointed out that he had learned a great deal, in particular from the regular oral discussions of legal issues in the German language. There were also positive comments about the Summer School in Brühl, which also provided an opportunity to make friends with young lawyers from other countries. The studies in German law led in particular to very good relations with colleagues from other successor states of the former Yugoslavia.

Musical accompaniment for the ceremony was provided by Aja Vincalek and Ekrem Softic, with examples of the cultural exchange between Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as Germany. They performed dual language interpretations of the poem "Der Asra" by Heinrich Heine, which has become part of Bosnian folk music as a Sevdalinka (love song), and performed the Bosnian ballad "Hasanaginica", which J.W. Goethe translated into German in his time. For the latter, a musical arrangement was compiled based on the folk blues song, "House of the Rising Sun".

The ceremony, which was also attended by many IRZ project partners and representatives of other German organisations in the country, finished with some intense discussions over a buffet.