Seminar on alternative dispute resolution in Podgorica

The German Ambassador to Montenegro, Dr. Robert Weber (left), and Ibrahim Smailović (to his right), Director of the Department of Civil Law at the Ministry of Justice for Montenegro
The German Ambassador to Montenegro, Dr. Robert Weber (left), and Ibrahim Smailović (to his right), Director of the Department of Civil Law at the Ministry of Justice for Montenegro
Montenegro

On 19 and 20 November 2019, a seminar on “Alternative dispute resolution in Germany, particularly mediation: legal foundations and practical application” was held in the capital Podgorica. The seminar was the first event organised jointly by the IRZ and the Montenegrin Centre for Mediation.

Once the event had been opened by the Director of the Centre for Mediation, Marina Lutovac, and IRZ Head of Section, Dr. Stefan Pürner, welcome speeches were given by German Ambassador Dr. Robert Weber and Ibrahim Smailović, Director of the Department of Civil Law at the Ministry of Justice for Montenegro. Both speakers stressed the importance of work on the rule of law for preparing Montenegro's accession to the EU and the important role played by the IRZ in this process.

Ibrahim Smailović and Marina Lutovac then went on to present the legal regulations and current situation regarding mediation in Montenegro, providing the initial foundations for very intense discussions to compare legal situations and a fruitful exchange of experiences.

These presentations made it clear that Montenegro is working intensively, in line with the relevant references from the EU country reports, to enhance the possibilities of alternative dispute resolution. The speakers reported on legislative initiatives, such as the reform of mediation law, and on organisational measures, such as the development of the current Centre for Mediation into a Centre for Alternative Dispute Resolution in general and on training measures in this area.

A second basis for general discussion was provided by presentations on mediation and arbitration in Germany by the following IRZ experts:

  • Harald Walther, Director of the Local Court of Rüsselsheim and Mediator BM® Mediator,
  • Michael Haußner, former Secretary of State and Ombudsman for the German Savings Bank Association (Deutscher Sparkassen- und Giroverband) and a former advisor to the Ministry of Justice for Montenegro, and
  • Winfried Schubert, a former President of the Constitutional Court of Saxony-Anhalt and Ombudsman for the German Savings Bank Association.

The presentations by the IRZ experts covered, amongst other things, the Mediation Act of 2012, the arbitration judge in courts, training for mediators and quality assurance in mediation. They also spoke about the work of arbitration bodies, in particular in the area of consumer protection.

Overall, the event not only dealt in-depth with various practical areas within the field of mediation, it also provided a comprehensive overview of various alternative dispute resolution mechanisms.

During the seminar, the participants also discussed related topics from the area of civil proceedings. Just as they had on a previous working visit by Montenegrin judges to Bavaria some time ago, the speakers once again stressed the importance of judicial support for consensual dispute resolution by the parties.

The importance attributed to this event by Montenegro is reflected in the fact that it was attended by the President of the Administrative Court of Montenegro, Branka Lakocević, and by the Director General for Civil Legislation, Ibrahim Smailović. Director General Ibrahim Smailović also took the opportunity to give an extensive lecture of his own, for which we would like to thank him very much once again.

Morocco

Judges from Montenegro visit Bavaria

The judges from Montenegro at the Regional Court of Munich
The judges from Montenegro at the Regional Court of Munich
Montenegro

From 20 to 24 October 2019, Montenegrin judges were in Wolfratshausen and Munich in Bavaria for another working visit on the “Conduct of court hearings by judges and the role of judges in civil proceedings”. The visit was part of a programme of regular visits by Montenegrin judges to the Regional Court of Munich and the Local Court of Wolfratshausen to learn about jurisdiction in Germany. The President of the Bavarian Association of Judges and President of the Local Court, Andrea Titz, was once again heavily involved in the planning and organisation of the working visit. The working group from Montenegro was made up of high court and commercial court judges. The President of the Administrative Court of Montenegro was also present.

The Montenegrin guests attended hearings at the Regional Court and at the Local Court before taking advantage of the opportunity for intense expert discussions with the Presiding Judge at the Regional Court, Stephan Reich, and the Presiding Judge at the Local Court, Friederike Kirschstein-Freund, who had each presided over the hearings.

Another focus of the working visit was a presentation of the mandatory legal internship of legal trainees in Bavaria given by Christine Haumer, a judge at the Higher Regional Court and Head of mandatory legal training at the Higher Regional Court of Munich.

To round off the visit, there was a meeting with Michael Haußner, a former Secretary of State at the Ministry of Justice for the Federal State of Thüringen, and Andrea Titz. Both Michael Haußner, who used to be an advisor to the Ministry of Justice in Montenegro, and Andrea Titz, who has already carried out various training measures in Montenegro, are very familiar with the situation in Montenegro.

The Montenegrin guests were impressed with how German judges condense civil proceedings thanks to their open conduct of hearings and make an active contribution towards settlements. During an exchange of ideas between colleagues, it become clear that the different kinds of legal practice in Montenegro and Germany are due more to the different levels of legal socialisation than to differences in the law in its written form. Article 323 of the Montenegrin Code of Civil Procedure stipulates, similar to § 278 para. 1 of the German Code of Civil Procedure, that “throughout the entire process, the court will strive, in a way that does not compromise its impartiality, to get parties to agree on a settlement.” This proves that, as well as the harmonisation of legal provisions, intense training is also required to ensure the success of legal transformation and that a change in the traditional approach is often useful as well.

The division of powers in the jurisdiction of various South-East European constitutional courts

Prof. Dr. Michael Eichberger (left), former Judge at the German Federal Constitutional Court; Dragoljub Drašković (eighth from left), President of the Constitutional Court of Montenegro; Zoran Pažin (centre), Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Justice of  Montenegro; Zlatko Knežević (to his right), President of the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina
Prof. Dr. Michael Eichberger (left), former Judge at the German Federal Constitutional Court; Dragoljub Drašković (eighth from left), President of the Constitutional Court of Montenegro; Zoran Pažin (centre), Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Justice of Montenegro; Zlatko Knežević (to his right), President of the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina
Montenegro

From 5 to 7 June 2019, a regional conference on the “Division of powers and balance between powers” was held in the Montenegrin capital, Podgorica. This conference was organised jointly by the Constitutional Court of Montenegro and the IRZ and was funded by the German Foreign Office. Representatives of the Constitutional Courts of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, North Macedonia and Serbia attended the conference.

The significance of the conference was underlined by the fact that, following the opening of the conference by the President of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Montenegro, Dr. Dragoljub Drašković, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Justice for Montenegro, Zoran Pažin, also gave a welcome speech.

This was followed by the following speeches on jurisdiction by the participating constitutional courts:

  • The relationship between the Parliament and the Constitutional Court of Montenegro in the implementation and protection of the constitutionality of the law (Hamdija Šarkinović, a judge at the Constitutional Court of Montenegro)
  • The division of powers and balance between powers – the independence of constitutional courts with a particular focus on the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina (Zlatko Knezevic, President of the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina) 
  • The role of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of North Macedonia in the implementation of the division of powers (Sali Murati, a judge at the Constitutional Court of the Republic of North Macedonia) 
  • Constitutional legislature and the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Croatia: a relationship based on cooperation and mutual control (Dr. Mato Arlović, a judge at the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Croatia)
  • The normative and actual prerequisites for the independence of the constitutional court – the experience of the Republic of Serbia (Dr. Nataša Plavšić, a judge at the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Serbia)

During this part of the conference, the participants already took the opportunity to join the discussions and ask critical questions.

Afterwards, Professor Dr. Michael Eichberger, a former judge at the German Constitutional Court, presented the role of the basic principle of the division of powers in German law in general and various decisions made by the German Constitutional Court in this regard. 

The discussions following this speech and the general discussions during the plenary session addressed a wide range of topics. The main focus was on the relationship between the constitutional court and the legislator, in particular on the practice of constitutional courts in the event of unconstitutional laws. The participants also discussed the position of the constitutional court in the structural organisation of the state. 

As well as working together in a plenary session, the conference also allowed the judges from the participating constitutional courts to make full use of the opportunity to share their thoughts and experiences and to take part in bilateral talks.