• Participants at the internship programme for lawyers

    Participants at the internship programme for lawyers

  • Participants at the internship programme for judges and public prosecutors

    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 IRZ “German law” summer school in Brühl and Bonn

  • Participants at the internship programme for English-speaking civil and commercial judges

    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

    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

    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

    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

    Representatives of the National Judges’ Associations at the Conference of Judges’ Associations in Moldova

Strategic framework

Overall concept

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.

Internships

  • 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.

Outlook

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.

Download the entire IRZ annual report in PDF format here: annual report 2016.