Seventh IRZ Summer School on "German Law" in Bonn

From 2 to 7 July 2017, the IRZ organised its seventh “Summer School on German Law”. This year's school was held in Bonn.

Originally devised as an addition to the German-language supplementary study course on the introduction of German law at the Ivan Franko University of Lviv (Western Ukraine), the summer course has appealed to numerous IRZ partner states for many yeas now and every year is increasingly in great demand. Participants must have a very good level of German.

This year, eleven IRZ partner states were involved: Albania, Armenia, Georgia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Moldova, Serbia, Syria, Russia, Ukraine and Vietnam. Albania, Syria and Vietnam were represented for the first time.

The Summer School included lectures on the following legal fields:

  • Civil law, in particular property law/collateral securities,
  • Company law,
  • Insolvency law,
  • Arbitration,
  • European civil and commercial law,
  • Criminal law and criminal procedural law,
  • Constitutional court law,
  • Case law,
  • Law on lawyers and
  • Human rights (the protection of fundamental rights by the German Constitutional Court and by the European Convention on Human Rights / European Court of Human Rights).

The lecture and exercise on methodology, which had been very popular the previous year, was also back on the programme. The Summer School once again also included a visit to hearings at a civil and criminal division of the Regional and Local Courts of Bonn, as well as talks at the University of Bonn, during which participants could find out about the opportunities for study courses for foreign students and post-graduates.

Due to the great response and with a view to encouraging young legal talent, the IRZ Summer School, which is predominantly aimed at students and young law professionals, is set to continue in years to come.

25 years of the IRZ

On 16 May 2017, the IRZ celebrated its 25th anniversary at a ceremony held at the German Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection (BMJV). Around 250 people from Germany and abroad took part in the celebrations, by invitation of Minister Heiko Maas.

Christian Lange, parliamentary Secretary of State at the German Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection and Vice-President of the IRZ, opened the celebrations in the courtyard of the Ministry. During his speech, Christian Lange emphasised the global importance of law and justice and noted that freedom, peace and prosperity can only exist in a state governed by the rule of law. This is precisely where the tasks of the IRZ lie – in supporting the development of democratic states under the rule of law – and has become active in almost 30 states since its foundation in 1992.

During his welcome address, the President of the IRZ, Dr. Jörg Freiherr von Fürstenwerth, outlined the tasks and challenges involved in international legal cooperation, which the IRZ has had to face and overcome, against the backdrop of historical events in the year the IRZ was founded. Afterwards, the Managing Director of the IRZ, Veronika Keller-Engels, talked about the many years of intensive and trusting cooperation with the partner states, in which many representatives of IRZ member associations and other experts have played an important role. She thanked all the experts for their involvement and all members and supporters for their constant support for the work of the IRZ.

In his subsequent keynote speech, Christoph Flügge, a judge at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague, outlined the fundamental considerations in the struggle for the state governed by the rule of law amongst IRZ partner states and elaborated with details of his personal experience gained during many years of involvement in international legal cooperation. Christoph Flügge painted a very vivid picture of the work of the IRZ and of what has been achieved so far and, at the same time, pointed out the new tasks and challenges in new partner regions.

Conference of national associations of judges to protect uniform case law in Chișinău

On 3 and 4 November 2016, the association of judges of Moldova and the IRZ once more organised the annual conference of the so-called “Memorandum Group” founded some years ago within the International Association of Judges (IAJ). The “Memorandum Group” is a group of associations of judges, mainly from post-Soviet member states, which meets once a year, if possible, to discuss specific legal and professional topics for these countries.

The IRZ has been promoting this professional exchange right from the start and has supported individual members at a national level providing legal advice on many of these topics, or the topics have been discussed at a bilateral level after the annual meetings, thus making use of diverse synergies. These conferences offer above all the opportunity to discuss and compare different solution approaches against a comparable historical and cultural legal background and similar political conditions. Thus they can contribute the best possible approaches for reform to the respective reform discussions.

The focus has been on judicial independence, disciplinary law and appraisals as well as for example the law on legal remedies or means to expedite proceedings to relieve the judiciary. The German Association of Judges (German abbreviation DRB) has an advisory status in the above-mentioned “Memorandum Group”, which means that German expertise and German experiences can be directly integrated.

This year’s conference at the Supreme Court in Chisinau dealt with the question how uniform case law can be ensured. Of particular interest for the participants from the Republic of Moldova, Ukraine, Armenia, Georgia and Kazakhstan was the conflict between the interest in a uniform case law and judicial independence in the face of frequent and often poorly structured legislative changes. It was also discussed whether the “advisory statements” or “recommendations” given outside the regular stages of appeal are binding for the courts of first instance.

Jens Gnisa, chairman of the DRB executive committee and director of the local court of Bielefeld, and Jörn Müller, judge at the local court of Worms and member of the DRB working group on international affairs, covered the following topics in their lectures and the following discussions:

  • German experiences with the harmonisation of case law throughout the stages of appeal,
  • judicial practice taking into account the decisions rendered by the highest appeal court,
  • the establishment of the grand / joint senates,
  • the effect of constitutional court decisions and ECtHR decisions and
  • issues of disciplinary law.
Next year, the IRZ will follow up on the topics of this conference at a bilateral level with the association of judges of Ukraine. The next conference of the “Memorandum Group” will presumably deal with appraisal issues.