Online seminar on consumer protection

Graphics: IRZ
Graphics: IRZ
Georgia

As in many countries, consumer protection has attracted more public interest in Georgia in recent years. However, even though the first Georgian constitution of 1995 named the protection of consumers as one of the government’s goals, there are still no legal provisions for consumer protection in Georgia to this day. This has a negative effect on many areas and makes it considerably harder to implement the law. The lack of any consumer protection legislation and other legal problems linked with consumer protection were therefore the subject of an online seminar, organised by IRZ in cooperation with the GLIP (Georgian Lawyers for Independent Profession) on 27 November 2020. There was a great deal of interest in this online seminar, with more than 120 people taking part, most of them lawyers.

IRZ expert Arnd Weishaupt, a judge at the Higher Regional Court of Düsseldorf, opened the event with a presentation of the legal framework for consumer protection in the EU and Germany, and gave plenty of detail for some problem areas such as loan and insurance agreements, as well as online retail and doorstep selling. Tamar Lakerbaia, a judge at the Local Court of Tbilisi, contrasted the German perspective with the current legal situation in Georgia. She reported with regret on the many years of fruitless efforts to adopt a framework law for protecting consumers. She was, however, optimistic that the newly elected Georgian parliament would approve the law during this legislative term. In this respect, Tamar Lakerbaia drew the participants’ attention to the Association Agreement concluded in 2014 between the EU and Georgia and reminded them of Georgia’s associated obligation to harmonise national laws with EU law, including in the area of consumer protection.

The Georgian speaker went on to give a short presentation of the national case law and emphasised in particular that, despite the lack of any legal basis, judges in Georgia are committed to guaranteeing effective consumer protection and are largely guided by EU directives when it comes to consumer rights issues.

Long and lively discussions followed on from the lectures. The participants agreed that the legal regulation of consumer protection is long overdue in Georgia and is really needed. IRZ will therefore continue to pursue the topic of consumer protection rights in Georgia next year and to advise their Georgian partners on possible reforms in this area.

Expert discussions on lawyers’ fees

Graphics: IRZ
Graphics: IRZ
Georgia

Lawyers’ fees were the subject of online expert discussions held on 19 November 2020, to which IRZ had invited members of the Georgian Bar Association (GBA) and the German Federal Bar Association (BRAK). Also represented at the seminar was the Georgian Legal Aid Service, a state institution which guarantees free legal aid for deprived citizens.

The President of the GBA, David Asatiani, referred in his opening speech to the currently insufficient statutory regulation of lawyers’ fees in Georgia and pleaded for the introduction of a minimum rate for lawyers. He said that the current situation had led to unfair competition and damage to the reputation of all lawyers.

As the expert discussions continued, Giorgi Turazashvili, a member of the GBA executive committee, presented the basics of the remuneration system for Georgian lawyers and drew the participants’ attention to some other fundamental problems. The German lawyer and notary, Dagmar Beck-Bever, explained the cornerstones of the system for lawyers’ fees in Germany. The Georgian participants were particularly interested in the scale of charges and fees in Germany, which was analysed and discussed in great detail. At the end of the discussions, it was agreed that lawyers’ fees in Georgia should be reformed, in the interests of clients looking for legal advice and the lawyers themselves.

The German legal system has traditionally served as a role model in Georgia. It was also agreed, therefore, that the reforms in lawyers’ fees should be based on the German model. Both IRZ and the German Federal Bar Association offered their full support to their Georgian colleagues as they continue their efforts to introduce reforms.

Seminar on European standards for investigation work and pre-trial custody

Graphics: IRZ
Graphics: IRZ
Georgia

IRZ organised its third seminar on European standards for investigation work and pre-trial custody from 25 to 27 August 2020. This event was aimed at employees of the Chief Prosecutor’s Office in Georgia.

The IRZ experts contributing towards the seminar programme were Christian Schierholt, Senior Public Prosecutor at the Public Prosecutor’s Office in Celle, and Oliver Tölle, Head of Criminal Investigations and a lecturer at the Berlin School of Economics and Law.

Christian Schierholt talked about the legal framework for covert investigations and the general principles of these investigations in Germany. His lecture went into great detail and was extremely informative about the main covert investigation methods. He talked about the specific features of cross-border cooperation during covert investigations and compliance with the ECHR in imposing pre-trial custody.

Oliver Tölle presented the security system in Germany, explained the use of trusted third parties and undercover investigators and the role of the police as witnesses.

The participants in the seminar were given a deep insight into the standards of investigation processes in Germany. Requirements are extremely high in Germany, compared to the rest of Europe, in particular when it comes to telecommunications surveillance, computer and network surveillance and source telecommunications surveillance.

This session has become a standard part of the training programme at the Chief Prosecutor’s Office in Georgia and is an established component of the long-term partnership with IRZ.