Multilateral - annual report 2019

Participants of the ninth “IRZ Summer School German Law“ on the steps of the old town hall in Bonn
Participants of the ninth “IRZ Summer School German Law“ on the steps of the old town hall in Bonn

Multilateral Programmes

Overall Concept

In 2019, IRZ again conducted a series of multilateral events and internship programmes in particular. The aim of these programmes is to provide a communication platform for legal professionals from various partner states and from Germany to discuss current legal reforms, to exchange thoughts on new legal areas or, more generally, to share challenges in everyday legal practice. As multipliers, the participants are then in a position to present the solutions and strategies from other countries in their home systems and thus to promote reform processes in the form of best practice. The formats also help to build durable networks between members of the judiciary or the independent legal professions (lawyers, notaries) from abroad.

IRZ internship programmes are particularly successful. Participants can usually spend several weeks acquiring insight into everyday work in German law firms, courts, public prosecutors‘ offices or notaries‘ offices.

In addition to the traditional German programmes, IRZ has also been offering some programmes in English since 2016 in order to address a wider target group. These stays are adapted to consider the particular challenges associated with translation in a legal context, while at the same time providing participants with the greatest possible degree of practical insight. Among these offers is an English-language programme for civil and commercial judges, which was again held in 2019.

A two-step programme in French began in 2019 for the target group of legal professionals in the Maghreb countries. As a first step, judges, public prosecutors and notaries from Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia participated in a one-week introductory seminar in Hammamet, Tunisia, during September 2019. The introductory course outlined the basic tenets of the German legal system as well as important and specific aspects for the work of these three professional groups. The second step will be a practical phase in Germany over the first half of 2020. IRZ plans to continue these new formats, sometimes alternating with the German-language programmes, given the consistently positive feedback from participants.

Focus of Activity in 2019

International Conference of the Memorandum Group of several national associations of judges in Bonn

Cooperating with the German Judges Association, IRZ organised an international conference of the Memorandum Group of several national associations of judges on “International Cooperation in Civil and Criminal Matters“ on 3 and 4 December 2019 in Bonn. Thirteen representatives of the Associations of Judges in Armenia, Estonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Poland, Ukraine and Uzbekistan attended this conference, which has established itself as a platform for exchange of experience between judges. The German Judges Association, represented by its chairman Jens Gnisa, was involved on the German side, as has been the case at previous conferences of this kind. Professional legal support for the conference was provided by numerous German experts.

IRZ has been promoting this professional exchange between representatives of the judiciary from its partner countries since 2011. The aim is for the participants to form stronger networks across the region and to exchange experiences on similar problems or current legal reforms.

This year‘s conference focused on the recognition and enforcement of judgements, extradition traffic with foreign countries including the European arrest warrant, and foreign investigations into computer and cybercrime. During the conference, the participants and the German experts thoroughly illuminated important aspects of international cooperation in civil and criminal law matters and the problems involved, as well as possible solutions. At this year‘s event, IRZ again achieved its goal of promoting dialogue between the above-mentioned countries.

Ninth “IRZ Summer School on German Law“

Now in its ninth year, the “IRZ Summer School on German Law“ took place in Bonn from 7 to 13 July 2019. It was attended by 34 students from ten IRZ partner states: Armenia (3), Belarus (3), Georgia (3), Kazakhstan (2), Kosovo (3), Morocco (1), Russia (3), Serbia (6), Tunisia (1) and Ukraine (9). The summer school was inaugurated in 2011 as an addition to the supplementary studies for an introduction to German law at the Ivan Franko National University of Lviv (Western Ukraine). This explains why Ukraine continues to provide the largest group of participants. Even after nine years, this format is still in great demand. Excellent German skills are a prerequisite for participation.

Like last time, this year‘s summer school featured lectures on the following legal areas:

  • Protection of fundamental rights by the Federal Constitutional Court, the European Convention on Human Rights and the European Court of Human Rights
  • Civil law: Company law and insolvency law
  • European civil and commercial law
  • Arbitration
  • Criminal law and criminal procedure law
  • Law of lawyers
  • Methodology

In 2019, IRZ Summer School again included a visit to trials at a civil and a criminal chamber at the Regional Court of Bonn, as well as discussions at the University of Bonn, during which participants were able to learn more about study opportunities for foreign students and postgraduates. In view of the very positive response and other factors, IRZ Summer School will be offered in the coming years as well, in order to continue addressing and promoting law students and young legal professionals in IRZ partner states.

Fourth seminar for Arabic-speaking legal professionals

For the fourth successive year, IRZ organised the seminar “Introduction to German Law“ for Arabic-speaking legal professionals from Syria and Iraq on 16 and 17 December 2019. The aim of this event is to provide participants with knowledge of the German court system and German criminal and civil law. A focus was placed on accessible case studies that illustrate German case-law and the interaction between different judicial instances, as well as on the everyday experiences of the refugees, which were addressed in a group discussion. Not only did this lead to a lively exchange and many interested questions, it also promotes the integration of refugees into German society and the understanding of legal contexts. The participating lawyers were frequently able to discover parallels between the German and Syrian or Iraqi legal systems.

The seminar was conducted by the experienced judges Uwe Stark, judge at the Local Court of Siegen, and Dr Arnd Weishaupt, judge at the Higher Regional Court of Düsseldorf.

Although the opportunities for refugee legal professionals to gain a professional foothold in Germany are limited, the seminar provides them with the chance to deepen the knowledge they have acquired in their home country and to identify similarities as well as differences between the legal systems.

Internships

The following programmes were held in 2019 in cooperation with, and supported by, the respective professional chambers and associations, as well as the Federal state justice administrations:

  • Two-week internship programme for administrative judges in cooperation with the Association of German Administrative Judges• Six-week internship programme for lawyers in the field of civil and commercial law in cooperation with the German Federal Bar and the German Bar Association
  • Two-week internship programme for notaries in cooperation with the Federal Chamber of Notaries
  • Two-week internship programme for English-speaking civil and commercial judges in cooperation with the German Judges Association and the Federal state justice administrations
  • Three-week internship programme for judges and public prosecutors in cooperation with the German Judges Association and the Federal state justice administrations
  • One-week introductory event in Tunisia for representatives of the judiciary and the notaries‘ office in the Maghreb states in preparation for the visit in 2020

Multilateral - annual report 2018

Multilateral Programmes

Overall Concept

The internship programmes and multilateral events such as conferences and summer schools are important parts of the IRZ‘s work. Initiated shortly after the IRZ was established, the internship programmes are viewed as particularly successful in this regard. For 25 years, German-speaking professionals from the IRZ partner states have completed programmes lasting several weeks to obtain insight into the everyday working routines in German law firms, courts, public prosecutor‘s offices and notary‘s offices. Not only do they acquire information about the practical workings of the judiciary in Germany, they can also share views with German and foreign colleagues on their impressions and the practical side to work in their own countries.

An internship programme for English-speaking civil and commercial judges was added to the portfolio in 2016. This approach has since been continued in the form of a practice-oriented training for English-speaking notaries, which was piloted in 2018. These programmes in English language are designed in particular for participants from non-EU countries in which German is not a common second language and where even legal professionals are unlikely to have a sufficient command of the language in order to enable an effective training period in Germany. Hence, a broader target group can benefit from these important programmes in English as transfer language. The IRZ will continue to offer these formats in view of the strong support and the extremely positive feedback from participants. In the future, the practice-oriented training programme for English-speaking notaries and the internship programme for German-speaking notaries will be held in alternate years.

Like the multilateral conferences, the purpose underlying these internship programmes is to promote technical exchange of experience between professionals in the numerous partner states of the IRZ on current issues of law that are equally relevant to all participants. The participants play an active role in the process, as they present the situation and solutions in their own legal systems in a multilateral context and, in the role of multipliers, can disseminate the strategies and solution models applied by their foreign colleagues within their own countries. Another important aspect of these projects is to establish long-term, international networks within the different professional groups.

Foci of Activity in 2018

Conference of the Memorandum Group of National Associations of Judges in Astana

The IRZ supported a conference by the Memorandum Group of Associations of Judges from Armenia, Estonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Poland and Ukraine in 2018 as well. This year‘s event was held in the Kazakh capital of Astana and focused on the issue of social security for judges from the perspective of effective legal protection. The IRZ has good contact with most of the participating Associations of Judges within the framework of bilateral cooperation and has supported their meetings in this format since 2011. Deserving particular mention in this regard is the participation by the German Association of Judges, which is always invited to the conferences as an advisory member and whose expertise and technical contributions are highly appreciated by the other members.

IRZ Summer School on German Law

z multi5

Participants at the eighth “IRZ Summer School on German Law“ in Bonn

 

The IRZ held its eighth “IRZ Summer School on German Law“ from 8–14 July 2018 in Bonn, which was attended by participants from eleven IRZ partner states: Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Russia, Serbia, Tunisia and Ukraine. Kazakhstan and Tunisia were represented at the event for the first time. The summer school was inaugurated in 2011 as an addition to the supplementary studies for an introduction to German law at the Ivan Franco National University of Lviv (Western Ukraine). Now it regularly brings together participants from numerous partner states of the IRZ and continues to enjoy substantial demand. Very good German skills are a prerequisite for attendance.

This year‘s summer school featured lectures on the following legal areas:

  • protection of fundamental rights (by the Federal Constitutional Court and the European Court of Human Rights);
  • civil law: company law and insolvency law;
  • effects of Union law on national civil and commercial law, as well as on arbitration;
  • criminal law and criminal procedure law;
  • law on lawyers; and
  • legal methodology.

In addition, the IRZ Summer School also included a visit to trials at a civil and a criminal chamber at the District Court of Bonn, as well as discussions at the University of Bonn, during which participants were able to learn more about study opportunities for foreign students and postgraduates. In view of the very positive response, the IRZ Summer School will be offered in the coming years as well, in order to continue addressing and promoting young legal professionals in the IRZ partner states.

 

IRZ Autumn Academy

z multi6
Graduates of the IRZ Autumn Academy in Bonn

 

In October 2018, the IRZ was able to organise the first IRZ Autumn Academy thanks to support from the Federal Foreign Office to build on the successful summer schools. Partnering with the Ivan Franco National University of Lviv (Western Ukraine), 21 students and professional entrants from the countries of the Eastern Partnership (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine) and Russia were invited to the event in Bonn. Most of the participants were alumni of earlier IRZ Summer Schools and already possessed a basic grasp of German law, in addition to their excellent German skills.

The programme at the Academy was spread over seven working days and included issues of European and international law (international private law, ECHR procedures, basic principles of EU law), as well as a broad variety of aspects within German civil law, for instance trade and partnership law, law of public and private entities and insolvency law. Relatively recent legal areas such as IT criminal law or renewable energies law were also addressed. The topics were presented by speakers from academia, the Bar and the judiciary, ensuring significant practicality of the lectures. Visits to the Federal Cartel Office and the DHL headquarters in Bonn rounded off the programme.

The highly motivated participants contributed actively to the technical programme and demonstrated with their interested questions that they were able to follow complex issues, both in terms of the content and the language. So it was hardly surprising when all of them successfully completed the final test in German. Above all, the young lawyers were extremely open to engaging with their colleagues from other countries. They quickly established amiable, international contacts that they can continue in a Facebook group and once again confirmed that national differences play only a subordinate role within an inspiring technical context.

Third Seminar for Refugees

z mult7

Participants at the seminar “Introduction to German law for refugees“

 

Cooperating with the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection (BMJV), the IRZ held a third successful seminar for Arabic-speaking refugees with a legal background on the subject of “Introduction to German Law“. The two-day event was held in Bonn from 10–11 December 2018.

By organising this event, the IRZ is seeking to make a contribution to the integration of lawyers among the Arabic-speaking refugees. The eight participants from Syria were legal professionals who had graduated from bachelor or master degree programmes, as well as one female attorney and two male attorneys. They received an introduction into the basics of German constitutional law, court structure in Germany and fundamental principles of general civil and criminal law. Aspects of social and asylum law were also discussed. In communicating the content, a focus was placed on illustrative case examples with relevance to the everyday lives of the refugees. This led to lively exchanges and many interested questions. The legal professionals from Syria were frequently able to discover parallels between the German and Syrian legal systems.

Consecutive interpreting was organised for the event, which was received by the participants very positively. It also allowed them to review and expand their language skills. Although the prospects of becoming established in a legal profession in Germany are limited for refugees, this project nevertheless offers them other opportunities. By attending the event, the participants acquired a better grasp of how legal issues relate to their everyday lives in Germany and may be able to act as mediators with German authorities for members of their personal circles. Moreover, the IRZ makes efforts to organise internship positions in law firms for selected participants in cooperation with the German Bar Association.

Internship programmes

The following programmes were held in 2018 in cooperation with, and supported by, the respective professional chambers and associations, as well as the Federal state justice administrations:

  • Practice-oriented training for English-speaking notaries in cooperation with the Federal Chamber of Notaries
  • Six-week internship programme for lawyers in the field of civil and commercial law in cooperation with the German Federal Bar and the German Bar Association
  • Two-week internship programme for English-speaking civil and commercial judges in cooperation with the German Association of Judges and the Federal state justice administrations
  • Three-week internship programme for judges and public prosecutors in cooperation with the German Association of Judges and the Federal state justice administrations

z multi3

Participants of the internship programme for English-speaking civil and commercial judges during the introductory seminar in Königswinter with the speakers Nina Marie Güttler (back left) and Alexander Heinen (back right)

 

z multi4

Interns from the advocacy

 

z multi1

Visit by the participants of the practiceoriented training course for English-speaking notaries and junior notaries in the notaries‘ office Dr. Rabl and Dr. Gassen

 

z multi2

Participants of the internship programme for judges and public prosecutors

 

 

Multilateral - annual report 2017

Overall Concept

In addition to bilateral consultancy work in the partner states, the IRZ has also been operating at multilateral level since 1993 within the framework of symposia and conferences, as well as internship programmes.

The symposia and conferences offer participants from the partner states an intensive exchange on current issues in the sphere of legal and judicial reform and promote the formation of professional networks in the long run.

The IRZ internship programmes pursue the same aim. Following a theoretical preparation phase, either individually or in small groups, the participants are offered the opportunity to gain an insight into the working methods of their German colleagues at law firms, notaries’ offices, courts and prosecutor’s offices. Thus, they can expand their knowledge of German and European law. This intensive exchange of ideas at the working level facilitates networking in two respects: on the one hand, between the German professional supervisors and their guests and, on the other hand, among the participants themselves. Sometimes, the contacts established in the multilateral area are continued also in bilateral cooperation.

Since 2008, there has also been a website to maintain contact for the former participants of the internship programme for lawyers (www.irz-netzwerk.eu), including a database in which German lawyers and law firms participating in the programme can also register.

Foci of Activity

2017 Conference of the Memorandum Group of national judges’ associations in Tbilisi

Since 2011, the IRZ has been supporting the meetings of the so-called “Memorandum Group of various national judges’ associations”. The Memorandum Group is an alliance of judges’ associations of Armenia, Estonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Poland and Ukraine. The German Judges’ Association is not a member of the group but has advisory status and has been involved in the group’s annual meetings since its inception. The meetings give the representatives of the national judges’ associations the opportunity to exchange views on important questions of professional policy and other current legal reform issues of international importance.

The April 2017 meeting in Tbilisi/Georgia focused, on the one hand, on the judge’s evaluation and related issues concerning possible impairments of judicial independence. On the other hand, it was about the subjects of mediation and juvenile criminal law that are currently being discussed in all member states of the group. Mediation as a modern method of conflict resolution is considered to be extremely important and forward-looking.

However, the practical design, either as judicial or extrajudicial mediation, is very different. This became clear in the short reports of the participating countries on their respective practical experience and perspectives. The situation is similar with regard to juvenile criminal law, for which a separate law was created in Georgia, for example, a few years ago, whereas in most of the other participating countries there are only special provisions in criminal law.

The German perspective was introduced into the discussion by the German Judges’ Association. As in previous years, the conference was seen as an important platform for a professional exchange among representatives of the judiciary from post-Soviet states, who are confronted with comparable tasks from similar starting positions and would therefore like to make use of the experience of other countries. This exchange of experience is a useful complement to the respective bilateral cooperation of the IRZ.

Seventh “IRZ Summer School German Law” in Bonn

For some years now, the IRZ has been carrying out a supplementary course to introduce German law with European implications at the renowned West Ukrainian Ivan Franko University in Lviv. The “IRZ Summer School German Law” was conceived within the framework of this programme, which has developed very positively. All students who have successfully completed the supplementary course are invited to attend. The Germanlanguage summer school, which was held in Bonn for the seventh time at the beginning of July 2017, is meanwhile aimed at numerous IRZ partner countries and is enjoying an ever-increasing demand. This year, participants from eleven IRZ partner countries were represented: Albania, Armenia, Georgia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Moldova, Serbia, Syria, Russia, Ukraine and Vietnam.

The IRZ Summer School included lectures on the following areas of law:

  • Civil law, in particular property law/loan collateral
  • Corporate law
  • Insolvency law
  • Arbitration
  • European civil and commercial law
  • Criminal and criminal procedural law
  • Law on courts
  • Law on judges
  • Law on lawyers
  • Human rights (protection of fundamental rights by the Federal Constitutional Court and the European Convention on Human Rights/ the European Court of Human Rights) and
  • Methodology

In addition, the IRZ summer school also included a visit of trials at a civil and a criminal chamber respectively at the district court and local court of Bonn as well as discussions at the University of Bonn, during which participants were able to find out about study opportunities for foreign students and postgraduates. In view of the very positive response, this programme is expected to be extended in terms of promoting young talent.

Seminar “Introduction into German Law” for Arabic-speaking refugees with a legal background in Bonn

Building on last year’s first positive experience, the IRZ held a second seminar for Arabic-speaking refugees with a legal background on the subject of “Introduction into German Law” in Bonn on 10 and 11 October 2017 in coordination with the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection.

The IRZ aims to provide an introduction to and orientation for the German legal system in the seminar for Arabic-speaking refugees with a legal background. The seminar included an introduction into the basics of constitutional law including fundamental rights as well as the German judicial system. It also deals with the fundamentals of general civil law, criminal law and public law, including social and asylum law.

This year’s participants included nine former judges and lawyers, some of whom were highly experienced, as well as other lawyers and former civil servants.

It is particularly noteworthy that the event was interpreted consecutively. This is how the participants were able to take note of the seminar contents in the German language initially and then check and expand their understanding during the subsequent interpretation into Arabic. The participants reflected positively on this set-up.

The concept of the event was very well received. This was demonstrated in particular by the interest expressed by participants in continuing and deepening the legal issues addressed. All participants were very committed and asked interested questions. At the same time, they established references to the legal system in their own country, which led to a stimulating exchange of legal comparisons. In particular, Syrian lawyers were able to discover many parallels between the German and Syrian legal systems, since Syrian law is largely shaped on the basis of the French civil code.

Due to the positive feedback, the IRZ is planning to hold such an event again next year.

Internships

The implementation of the individual internship programmes is made possible by the multi-faceted support of the Land judicial administrations as well as professional chambers and associations. The following programs were implemented in the year under review:

  • Two-week internship programme for administrative judges in cooperation with the Association of German Administrative Judges and the Land judicial administrations
  • Three-week internship programme for notaries and candidate notaries in cooperation with the Federal Chamber of Notaries
  • Six-week internship programme for lawyers in the field of civil and commercial law in cooperation with the Federal Chamber of Attorneys and the German Bar Association
  • Three-week internship programme for judges and prosecutors in cooperation with the German Judges’ Association and the Land judicial administrations
  • Two-week internship programme for English-speaking civil and commercial judges in cooperation with the German Judges’ Association and the Land judicial administrations

The pilot project, which was carried out in English for the first time in 2016, was offered again with an updated design taking into consideration the internship phase: on the one hand, the guests visited in small groups and, on the other hand, a German-English consecutive interpreting service was provided if required, which was used primarily in case of court sessions. These changes did not go unnoticed: the nine judges from seven countries – Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Jordan, Macedonia, Montenegro – completed the programme with great enthusiasm and were able to return to their home countries with many new suggestions.

Outlook

The IRZ intends to continue to offer its successful internship programmes for members of the judiciary and administration of justice in German and English. This applies equally to the “IRZ Summer School German Law” and to the seminar for Arabic-speaking refugees.

With regard to notaries, the IRZ plans to conduct a practice-oriented further training stay in English for participants from non-EU partner countries next year together with the Federal Chamber of Notaries.

The organisation of multilateral conferences and symposia on selected current issues is also planned for 2018.