• 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)

    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 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 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 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 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)

    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)

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.