Strategic framework

Legal policy starting point

Whilst a fresh wave of violence swept Central Iraq in 2014 with increasing numbers of assassinations, attacks and victims among the civilian population, the security situation in Iraqi Kurdistan remained largely stable in 2014. This is the case despite the growing military influence of the “Islamic State”, which came as a surprise for many. Its military advance and atrocities have not ultimately managed to bring civil life to a standstill in Iraqi Kurdistan or even to significantly impede it. Because of this, one may continue to anticipate a relatively stable development.

Overall concept

The IRZ has supported the Iraqi and Kurdish authorities in recent years by organising study trips for members of the judiciary within the “EUJUSTLEX-IRAQ” EU Rule of Law Mission, which was concluded in December 2013. For the continued cooperation, however, new approaches have now arisen in the areas of civil law and civil procedure law.

The abovementioned ongoing economic growth in the Kurdistan Region led amongst other things to a considerable need for modernisation in legislation and in the administration. A particularly relevant field in this context is coercive execution. The statutory basis is out of date, and official enforcement suffers from considerable shortcomings. This ultimately hinders investment to a degree which should not be underestimated. Reliable prospects that a claim can be recovered through the courts or public authorities constitute an essential criterion for assessing legal certainty on the part of potential investors. Aware of this fact, at the end of 2012, the Kurdish Ministry of Justice requested the German Consulate General in Arbil to help procure German support for the reform of the law on coercive execution in Iraqi Kurdistan. In 2013, the IRZ drafted a comprehensive proposal for reform, together with representatives of the Kurdish authorities, which was further refined in 2014. A particular challenge in this context was the more or less customised adaptation to the actual Kurdish situation. This was by no means an exercise of legal theory, but an area in which experience, empathy, knowledge of local conditions, as well as ultimately also experience in legislation are needed. As an example of the problems found, it can be mentioned that because of cultural and religious situations, bailiffs are not necessarily able to enter a house which is exclusively reserved for women. Other challenges relate to the out-of-date law itself. For instance, under the ideology of strict debtor protection, it regulates against the legitimate interests of creditors. A coercive execution procedure can be extended practically indefinitely, enabling debtors to quietly put existing assets to one side.

Focus of activity in 2014

Civil and commercial law

  • Further drafting and refining of the reform proposal on the law on coercive execution in cooperation with representatives of the authorities

Outlook

The consultation services will be continued and ended at the beginning of 2015. The IRZ will continue to accompany the reform process within the possibilities that are available. This particularly relates to areas which also require renewal in the course of the reform of the law on coercive execution. This includes for instance a service instruction for bailiffs, training for civil law enforcement officials on the basis of the new regulations, or the revision of provisions of family law in the field of parental custody and access rights.