„Law – made in Germany“: Workshop on Mediation in Tbilisi

Einführungsvortrag von Rechtsanwältin Kerstin Gröne (r.), neben ihr auf dem Podium: RA Jan Helge Kestel; Joachim Hecker, Deutsche Botschaft Tiflis; David Asatiani, Vorstandsmitglied der georgischen Anwaltskammer; Teresa Thalhammer, IRZ (v.l.n.r.)
Introductory lecture by lawyer Kerstin Gröne (right), next to her on the panel: lawyer Jan Helge Kestel; Joachim Hecker, German Embassy in Tbilisi; David Asatiani, member of the board of the Georgian Bar Association; Teresa Thalhammer, IRZ (from left to right)

The IRZ, in cooperation with the German Federal Bar Association and the Georgian Bar Association organised an event on mediation in Tbilisi, Georgia, on 17 and 18 October. Georgia’s legal system is making first approaches for an introduction of mediation as an alternative method of dispute settlement, which is mainly conducted by lawyers there. Therefore, the Georgian lawyers showed great interest in learning more about the German experience with mediation.

A one and a half day workshop took place on this topic as part of the initiative “Law – made in Germany“ addressing Georgian lawyers. Two Georgian lawyers, who are already certified mediators under the Georgian system, outlined the Georgian model of mediation through lawyers and their experiences made so far.

The German mediators Kerstin Gröne, a mediator and lawyer from the Cologne law firm Luther, her counterpart Jan Helge Kestel, a mediator and partner at the Erfurt law firm Caemmerer Lenz, and the President of the Bar Association of Thuringia, gave an overview of the legal provisions of mediation through lawyers in Germany. They also covered training and legal issues relating to the profession of mediation.

The focus, however, was on the practical aspects of mediation such as assessment of litigation risk and questioning techniques which were explained on the basis of case studies. Lively discussions and a vivid exchange of views ensued among the colleagues. The workshop was opened by Joachim Hecker, Head of the Divisions for Business as well as Legal and Consular Affairs of the German Embassy in Tbilisi, lawyer Dr. Veronika Horrer, Managing Director of the German Federal Bar Association, and Zaza Khatiashvili, President of the Georgian Bar Association.

This event was another cornerstone in the long-standing and productive partnership between the bar associations of Georgia and Germany, facilitated by the IRZ.

Panel discussion in Bremen to mark the 25th anniversary of German-Georgian legal cooperation

The Georgian Ambassador Prof. Dr. Lado Chanturia, during his welcome speech at the opening of the event. On the panel: Prof. Dr. Rolf Knieper, Prof. Dr. Nino Gvenetadze, Interpreter Zaal Andronikaschwili (from left to right)
The Georgian Ambassador Prof. Dr. Lado Chanturia, during his welcome speech at the opening of the event. On the panel: Prof. Dr. Rolf Knieper, Prof. Dr. Nino Gvenetadze, Interpreter Zaal Andronikaschwili (from left to right)

To mark the 30th anniversary of the Bremen Law Society and the 25th anniversary of the legal cooperation between Germany and Georgia, a panel discussion took place at Bremen City Hall on 12 September 2017. The topics of discussions were legal cooperation in general and the advisory role in Georgia played by the IRZ and other organisations in particular.

The first concrete steps towards legal and judicial reform in Georgia were taken in 1992 by a group of professors at the University of Bremen, who began working closely with Georgian legal experts, initially in civil and public law. This developed into fundamental advice provided by the Germans on the revised version of Georgian civil law and the development of a system for administrative law.

Since then, relations between representatives of the University of Bremen, the justice system in Bremen and their Georgian partners have always been at the centre of the cooperation – even though several other law schools in Germany and practitioners from many other German towns and cities have since become involved.

On the panel, Professors Rolf Knieper and Gerd Winter, who have been advisors since the start, held discussions with Ellen Best, Vice-President of the local court in Bremen and Dr. Thomas Meyer from the GIZ. The Georgian perspective was put across by Prof. Nino Gvenetadze, President of the Supreme Court of Georgia, who as a professor of criminal law was involved in the process for reforming the Georgian justice system. In her current position, she attaches great importance to the close partnership with German colleagues, which the IRZ, amongst others, continues to support.

The participants in the discussions, which were hosted by Stefan Pulß from Radio Bremen, provided an insight into the adverse circumstances surrounding the start of the consultancy and discussed the pros and cons of legal reform efforts in politically fragile situations. The issue of the impact of long-term reforms and the associated sustainability of this kind of consultancy was also raised.

The event was opened by State Councillor Jörg Schulz, Senator for Justice and the Constitution, and by the Georgian Ambassador, Prof. Dr. Lado Chanturia. As a Professor of Civil Law in Georgia, the latter played a crucial role in the reforms and has since worked closely with academics in Bremen.

Working visit to Berlin by a delegation from the Georgian Bar Association

On 26 and 27 June 2017, a delegation from the Georgian Bar Association attended expert discussions in Berlin by invitation of the IRZ and the German Federal Bar (BRAK). This working visit took place as part of the long-standing cooperation between the IRZ and the Georgian Bar Association, with the objective of strengthening the Bar and the autonomy of lawyers in Georgia, thereby making a contribution towards further reforms in this field. The delegation was made up of board members of the Georgian Bar Association, as well as other lawyers.

The main topics discussed during the study visit were mediation and legal aid in Germany. Mediation is new to Georgia and is becoming increasingly significant. There are plans to establish mediation as an alternative process for resolving conflicts in legal practice.

Expert talks were held at the German Federal Bar and at the arbitration board of the German Federal Bar in Berlin. During these talks, the Georgian guests were provided with an overview of the duties of the arbitration board of the German Federal Bar and the opportunities for citizens to resolve conflicts without going through the courts, thus saving time and money.

There were also reports on the Pro Bono system in Germany, which was of particular interest in view of the potential introduction of a similar system in Georgia.

The programme was supplemented by an exchange of experiences with two German lawyers, during which the role of the lawyer as mediator and the mediation process were discussed. There were lively talks about the advantages and disadvantages of mediation, both in court and out of court, and about actual practical experiences.

The expert talks were considered to be very interesting and enriching by the Georgians. The guests expressed their desire to continue the successful cooperation and to plan a follow-up event in Georgia in October.