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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
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
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
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
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.
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
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)
Interns from the advocacy
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
Participants of the internship programme for judges and public prosecutors
Conference of the Memorandum Group of Associations of Judges in Tbilisi: Veronika Keller-Engels, General Director of the IRZ; Joachim Hecker, Head of the Division for Business as well as Legal and Consular Affairs at the German Embassy; Prof. Dr. Nino Gvenetadze, President of the Supreme Court of Georgia; Levan Murusidze, Member of the High Council of Justice of Georgia; Christian Urse, Council of Europe (presidium from left to right)
Participants of the seventh “IRZ Summer School on German Law” in front of the University of Bonn
Participants of the internship programme for English-speaking civil and commercial judges
Participants of the internship programme for administrative judges at the introductory seminar in Königswinter with Dr. Jan Duikers, judge at the administrative court (3 rd from right)
Participants of the German-speaking internship programme for judges and public prosecutors at the introductory seminar in Königswinter with Mr. Alexander Fühling, judge at the local court of Bonn, as speaker (on the left)
Participants at the internship programme for lawyers with the representatives of the German Bar Association Nicolas Schaeffer (3 rd from right) and Leonie Lockau (5 th from right)
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
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
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.
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.
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.
Participants at the internship programme for lawyers
Participants at the internship programme for judges and public prosecutors
Participants at the IRZ “German law” summer school in Brühl and Bonn
Participants at the internship programme for English-speaking civil and commercial judges
Participants at the V. International Parliamentarians’ Conference with MP Renate Künast (centre), Chairperson of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Consumer Protection in the German Bundestag, Renate Künast; MP Christian Lange (behind her to the right), Parliamentary Secretary of State to the Federal Minister of Justice and Consumer Protection
Head of Department Eva Schmierer, Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection, welcomes participants to the IRZ- side event during the OSCE conference
Visit by participants of the notarial internship programme to the notaries’ office Neuhaus and Buschbaum in Cologne
Representatives of the National Judges’ Associations at the Conference of Judges’ Associations in Moldova
In addition to 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 a forum for an exchange on current issues in the sphere of legal and judicial reform which interest all the participants equally. This year, particular focus was placed on the subjects of “politics, business and human rights”, the relationship between constitutional court jurisdiction and the jurisdiction of the ordinary courts, the independence of the judiciary and the consistency of case-law. The aim of these conferences is to promote the international exchange of ideas and experience, as well as the formation of networks between the participating states.
The IRZ internship programmes pursue a comparable aim. Participants are offered the opportunity to gain an insight into the working methods of their German colleagues in German law firms, notaries’ offices, courts and departments of public prosecution, and can expand their knowledge of German and European law. Contacts made between the German mentors and the participants and between the participants among themselves are frequently continued after the end of the programme.
Since 2008, there has been a website to maintain contacts for the former participants of the internship programme for lawyers (www. irz-netzwerk.eu), including a databank in which German lawyers and law firms participating in the programme can also register.
Foci of activity in 2016
Sixth IRZ Summer School on “German law” in Brühl and Bonn
The IRZ organised its sixth summer school on „German law” from 3 to 9 July 2016 in Brühl and Bonn. The Summer School was originally conceived as a supplement to the German language accompanying study course on the introduction into German law at the West Ukrainian National Iwan Franko University of Lviv (Lemberg). The summer school is now intended for numerous partner states of the IRZ and is in increasingly high demand every year.
Very good German skills are indispensable as a prerequisite for participation. In the reporting year, ten IRZ partner states participated: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Kosovo, Moldova, Serbia, Russia, Turkey and Ukraine. Russia and Turkey were represented for the first time.
The summer school encompasses lectures on civil law, in particular the law of property/loan security, company law, insolvency law, arbitration, European civil and business law, court constitution law, the law on judges, the law on lawyers and human rights. A lecture and practice session on methodology was also included in the programme for the first time.
In addition, the summer school once again offered the opportunity to attend hearings at a civil and a criminal chamber at the Bonn Regional Court and District Court, as well as discussions at the University of Bonn, which served to inform participants about study opportunities for foreign students and postgraduates.
OSCE Event “Human Dimension Implementation Meeting” in Warsaw – Side-Event “Independence and Accountability of Justice”
From 19 to 30 September 2016, the “Human Dimension Implementation Meeting” took place in Warsaw during this year’s German OSCE presidency. Central issues during the German presidency in 2016 included freedom of the media, freedom of opinion, strengthening civil society and tolerance as the basis of social cohesion, the rule of law and compliance with human rights in the OSCE area. The IRZ participated in the organisation and implementation of a side event held during the event, called “Independence and Accountability of Justice” in cooperation with the Federal Foreign Office and the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection, which took place on 23 September 2016. During the 90-minute podium discussion, high-ranking representatives of the judiciary from the partner states of the IRZ delivered presentations about the work of the IRZ in the context of legal and judicial reforms in their respective countries. Speakers from Germany, Ukraine, Moldova, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania, Georgia and Kazakhstan took part in the discussion. The event offered a welcome opportunity for the exchange of experiences and gave listeners an insight into the justice systems of the presenting countries.
XVIII. International Constitutional Law Conference in Regensburg
The IRZ organised the international conference for European and comparative constitutional law on 14 and 15 October 2016 in Regensburg in cooperation with the University of Regensburg and the Graduate School for Eastern and South-East European Studies. This year’s topic was “Constitutional jurisdiction and policy“. Around 50 representatives of constitutional courts and other courts from more than 20 countries took part in this congress, which in recent years has established itself as a major forum for an international, practice-orientated exchange of experience for constitutional law judges.
Fifth International Conference of the Parliamentary Committees on Legal Affairs on “Politics, Business and Human Rights” in Berlin
The IRZ organised the Fifth International Conference of the Parliamentary Committees on Legal Affairs on 24 and 25 October 2016 together with the Committee on Legal Affairs and Consumer Protection in the German Bundestag and the German Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection. The organisers welcomed 30 guests from seven states in the MENA region (Algeria, Irak, Iran, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Tunisia) as well as representatives from business and non-governmental organisations. The event concentrated on issues relating to the guarantee of and compliance with human rights provisions by politics and business and the important role played by civil society and non-governmental organisations. On the basis of the UN Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights, the respective national endeavours for the implementation of these principles were presented and discussed.
The participating parliamentarians were in agreement that the exchange of ideas facilitated by the conference was worthwhile and that ideally a network of parliaments should be developed in order to make the efforts for improved protection of human rights effective at an international level as well.
Conference of National Associations of Judges on the Safeguarding of Uniform Case-Law in Chişinău
On 3 and 4 November 2016, the Moldovan Association of Judges and IRZ once again jointly organised the annual conference of the so-called “Memorandum Group”, which was founded several years ago within the International Association of Judges (IAJ). The Memorandum Group consists of a group of judges’ associations mainly from post-soviet Member States. The Group meets on an annual basis if possible in order to discuss legal policy and professional policy topics specific to these countries.
The IRZ has promoted this specialist exchange from the outset, because many of the topics dealt with here have already been supported with advice by the IRZ at the national level of the individual members or are taken up at bilateral level after the annual meetings. In this way, numerous synergies can be utilised. These conferences in particular offer the opportunity to discuss from a comparative law perspective different possible solutions against the background of comparable legal history and legal culture and in the light of similar political framework conditions, and in this way to contribute the best possible reform ideas to the respective reform discussion.
The focus, past and present, is on issues connected with the independence of the judiciary, disciplinary law and professional assessment system as well as, for example, issues of appeal law or possibilities for the acceleration of proceedings to relieve the burden on the judiciary. The German Association of Judges (DRB) has the status of advisor in the above mentioned Memorandum Group. In this way, German expertise and German experience can be contributed directly.
This year’s conference at the Supreme Court in Chişinău focused on the issue of guaranteeing the uniformity of case-law. Participants from the Republic of Moldova, Ukraine, Armenia, Georgia and Kazakhstan were particularly interested in discussing the tension between the interest in a unification of jurisprudence and the independence of the judiciary in view of frequent and often unstructured legislative changes in those countries. It was also discussed whether the “advisory opinions” or “recommendations” issued by the Supreme Courts outside the normal appeal stages are binding on lower-instance courts. The IRZ will intensify the discussion on topics of the above conference with the Ukrainian Judges’ Association on a bilateral basis next year. The next Memorandum Group conference will probably concentrate on issues relating to the professional assessment system.
Three-week internship programme for notaries in cooperation with the Federal Chamber of Notaries
Six-week internship programme for lawyers in the fields of civil and commercial law in cooperation with the German Federal Bar and the German Bar Association
Three-week internship programme for judges and public prosecutors together with the German Association of Judges and the justice administrations in the individual federal states
Two-week internship programme for English-speaking civil and commercial court judges together with the German Association of Judges and the justice administrations in the individual federal states
The IRZ offered an English language pilot project for the first time in 2016, in order to be able to involve the IRZ partner states in future more closely in the internship programmes. In this programme 14 judges from the ten countries Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Macedonia, Nepal and Tunisia took part.
In spite of the language barrier, the internship was a very valuable working experience for the participants. They welcomed the exchange with German colleagues and with each other as a highly enriching experience.
The internship programmes have now become an established institution and the IRZ intends to continue to offer them for members of the judiciary and the administration of justice. This likewise applies to the programme in English.
The intention is also to continue the IRZ summer school in future, which generates positive resonance and is mainly aimed at law students and young professionals in legal professions.
The IRZ will also continue to hold multilateral conferences and symposia on selected topics in 2017.