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On 27 March 2019, a conference on the “Funding of political parties and elections: challenges and solutions” was held in Podgorica. The event was organised jointly by the non-governmental organisation MANS, which acts as a network supporting civil society in Montenegro, the EU Delegation in Montenegro, the British Embassy and the IRZ. The conference was opened by the Head of the EU Delegation, Aivo Orav, UK Ambassador Alison Kemp and Vanja Ćalović Marković from MANS. This was followed by three panel discussions and subsequent talks:
During the first panel, international experts in party law and party funding started by making short statements and went on to answer questions from the moderator and the audience.
In the second panel, politicians from various parties represented in the Montenegrin Parliament commented on the current situation in the country with regard to party funding.
In the third panel, representatives of non-governmental organisations from Armenia, Latvia, Montenegro and Russia described party funding in their own countries, which they unanimously criticised.
The experts involved in the first panel discussion also included two Germans. As well as Dr. Magnus Ohmann from the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) and Dr. Yukihido Hamda from the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA), other speakers included the Managing Director of the Institute for German and International Party Law and Party Research at the University of Düsseldorf, Dr. Heike Merten, who spoke as an IRZ expert, and Dr. Tilman Hoppe, an expert on anti-corruption at the German Bundestag. The latter had worked out some recommendations for changes and amendments to the Montenegrin party law, which were made available to participants in the conference. The MANS NGO also presented its study on the situation of party funding in Montenegro, which concludes that there is a considerable need for improvement in this area.
Attending the conference were a large number of media representatives, representatives from foreign embassies in Montenegro, parliamentarians and other interested parties.
“Negotiation management and the role of judges in civil proceedings” was the title of a two-stage event, which took place on 9 October in the Montenegrin capital, Podgorica, and continued with a study visit from 14 to 18 October 2018 to Munich and the Local Court of Wolfratshausen. The event was organised jointly by the IRZ and the Judicial Training Centre of the Republic of Montenegro, which have been working successfully together for around ten years.
During the workshop in Podgorica in Montenegro, the Director of the Local Court of Wolfratshausen and President of the Bavarian Association of Judges, Andrea Titz, introduced the participants in the planned study visit to Germany to the German ZPO (code of civil procedure). At the same time, she learned about the corresponding regulations and relevant practices in Montenegro. Following the abolition of the previous code of civil procedure in Montenegro, which was based on the Austrian Klein ZPO and offered extensive possibilities for official investigation, the principle of production of evidence now also applies.
When combined with Anglo-American concepts of the judge as purely an arbitrator, this often leads to the role of judges in civil proceedings being seen now as primarily a passive one. This results not only in the danger of extending the duration of proceedings, but it can also imply a disregard for the required procedural supply of information and to questionable and surprising verdicts in view of article 6 of the ECHR.
In this context, the German practice of negotiation management offers some good ideas for an effective process management to satisfy rule of law principles. This is one of the results of the visit to civil proceedings at the Regional Court of Munich I and the Local Court of Wolfratshausen. Following on from the hearings, the Montenegrin guests had the opportunity to discuss the issues with Dietrich Weder, Presiding Judge at the Regional Court, and Frederike Kirchstein-Freund, a judge at the Local Court. Andrea Titz was also available throughout to discuss questions in more details and to provide additional comments.
The participants were also able to attend a lecture by Christine Haumer, a judge at the Regional Court and Deputy Head of legal training at the Higher Regional Court of Munich, thereby making the most of the opportunity to find out about the training of trainee lawyers in Germany, using the Free State of Bavaria as an example. Other characteristics of German civil proceedure law, from the law on fees to provisional enforceability and the role of the judicial officer, were also discussed.
Due to the wealth of publications produced by the IRZ in South-East Europe, we were also able to provide participants with translations of laws (for example, the law on judicial officers) and other materials, for example on the official appraisal of judges and exam papers.
From 23 to 25 May 2018, a regional conference on issues concerning the responsibility of Constitutional Courts as opposed to the responsibility of Supreme Courts was held in Budva, Montenegro. The event was organised by the Constitutional Court of the host country together with the IRZ and was addressed to constitutional court judges from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Serbia and Slovenia.
The conference was opened by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Justice Zoran Pažin, the President of the Constitutional Court of Montenegro, Dr. Dragoljub Drašković, and the German Ambassador in Montenegro, Hans Günther Mattern.
This was followed by reports from the participating states. The speakers were
Dr. Dragoljub Draškovic, President of the Constitutional Court of Montenegro,
Nikola Ivanovksi, President of the Constitutional Court of Macedonia
Valerija Galić, Constitutional Court judge, Bosnia and Herzegovina,
Miroslav Nikolić, Constitutional Court Judge, Serbia and
Dr. Matej Accetto, Constitutional Court Judge, Slovenia.
A German lecture on “Violations to the constitution by ordinary courts restricting the responsibility of constitutional courts” was given by Winfried Schubert, who as a former President of the Constitutional Court of the State of Saxony-Anhalt and of the Higher Regional Court of Naumberg has gained experience in prominent positions in both of the jurisdictions concerned.
The diverse experiences of participants from six different countries resulted in some lively discussions. Based on the principle of judicial self restraint, groups of cases were presented, in which the constitutional courts had exceptionally overturned judgements from ordinary courts because these had violated not only statutory law but also basic rights.
The “Schuhmann‘sche” formula was consulted several times for the differentiation. This formula dictates that the decisions of the courts are constitutional despite any errors of law, if the solution they have come to would be constitutional if the legislature had imposed this solution itself.
The practical significance of the topic is also proven by the fact that the Constitutional Court of Montenegro currently grants one third of all constitutional complaints against judgements.