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.

Multilateral - annual report 2016

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.

Multilateral - annual report 2015

Strategic framework

Overall concept

The IRZ has also been operating at multilateral level since 1993, organising symposia and conferences and offering internship programmes.

The symposia and conferences offer attendees from the partner states a forum for an exchange on current issues in the field of legal reforms.

Since the reform processes differ from one partner country to another, such events are usually characterised by lively discussions, which are highly inspirational for the further work in the home country. Furthermore, the IRZ thus enables the participating states to re-establish or step up working contacts with one another.

The IRZ's internship programmes have a similar effect when it comes to creating networks. They offer to participants the opportunity to share their German colleagues' everyday work in German law firms and notaries' offices, in courts and in public prosecution offices. This provides them with an insight into their working methods, as well as with an opportunity to expand their knowledge of German and European law. The contacts that have been made in the multilateral field frequently lead to cooperation being continued at bilateral level.

There has also been a website since 2008 to maintain contacts for the former participants of the multilateral internship programme for lawyers (www.irz-netzwerk.eu), which has been running since 1994. In addition to the former participants, the German lawyers and law firms participating in the programme may also register on this site.

Foci of activity in 2015

Fourth International Conference of Parliamentary Committees on Legal Affairs on the topic of "Protection of fundamental rights and their possible restrictions, as well as consumer protection on the web" in Berlin

Parliamentarians from more than fifteen IRZ partner states in Central, Eastern and South Eastern Europe, in the Caucasus, in Central Asia and in North Africa, as well as in the Middle East, took up the invitation to attend the Conference of Parliamentary Committees on Legal Affairs which was held in Berlin on 1 and 2 June, which the IRZ held together with the Bundestag's Committee on Legal Affairs and Consumer Protection.

The focus was placed on the challenges arising for the legislature when it comes to the protection of citizens' fundamental rights within the context of the fight against terrorism and the digitalisation of business transactions. The discussion focussed on the following topics, amongst other things:

  • The range of fundamental rights and their restrictability,
  • Possibilities of judicial legal protection,
  • The tension between individual freedoms and the fight against terrorism,
  • Protection of privacy in digital media and with legal transactions on the Internet.

The conference was opened by Christian Lange, Parliamentary State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection and deputy head of the IRZ's Board of Trustees, as well as Renate Künast, Chairperson of the German Bundestag's Committee on Legal Affairs and Consumer Protection, who chaired the meeting together with Dirk Mirow, Director of the IRZ, Dr. Bernhard Dombek, President of the Federal Bar, ret., and the Member of Parliament Dr. Jan-Marco Luczak. Senior representatives of the German judiciary, of Academia and of the German Bundestag spoke. The focus was also on the reports and experience of Parliamentarians from the IRZ's partner states, as well as on an exchange of ideas between all those attending the conference.

Fifth IRZ "German law" summer school in Brühl and Bonn

The IRZ celebrated a minor anniversary with the fifth IRZ "German law" summer school, which took place in Brühl and Bonn from 5 to 11 July. This year, the summer school also addressed law students from many partner states of the IRZ, and is still very much in demand.

The event was originally meant to complement the German-language supplementary introductory studies in German law at the National Ivan Franko University of Lvov in Western Ukraine. In the subsequent years, the summer school was also opened up for participants from other states. This year, it was attended by students from eight IRZ partner states: Armenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Moldova, Serbia and Ukraine.

In addition to lectures on a wide variety of legal fields, the items which appear on the programme of the summer school every year also include an opportunity to attend a civil and a criminal chamber at Bonn Regional and Local Courts, as well as discussions on opportunities to study for foreign students and postgraduates at the University of Bonn.

XVII International Constitutional Law Conference in Regensburg

This already traditional multilateral conference on constitutional law took place at the University of Regensburg on 16 and 17 October on the topic of "The relationship between constitutional courts and ordinary courts", and was attended by representatives from constitutional and other courts from many of the IRZ's partner states. This congress has become established as a major forum for an international, practice-orientated exchange of experience between constitutional court judges.

Internships

  • Three-week internship programme for administrative court judges in cooperation with the German Association of Administrative Court Judges
  • 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 Federal Bar and the German Bar Association
  • Three-week internship programme for civil and commercial court judges, together with the German Association of Judges and the Land administrations of justice
  • Three-week internship programme for public prosecutors and criminal court judges, together with the German Association of Judges and the Land administrations of justice

Outlook

The IRZ will continue to offer the internship programmes for members of the judiciary and of the administration of justice, which have now become an established institution, since the practice-orientated professional exchange of experience effectively supports the partner states in their efforts to reform. This applies in equal measure to the IRZ summer school. The IRZ will also continue to hold multilateral conferences and symposia on selected topics in 2016.