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.

Conference of the Memorandum Group of Associations of Judges in Tbilisi

On 28 and 29 April 2017, an international conference of the “Memorandum Group of Associations of Judges” was held in Tbilisi. The conference was about the coming together of the Associations of Judges of Armenia, Estonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, the Republic of Moldova, Poland and Ukraine. The IRZ has welcomed this initiative right from the start and has supported the annual meetings of the Memorandum Group over the years.

This year’s conference focussed on the following topics

  • Mediation,
  • The assessment of judges and
  • Juvenile criminal law.

When it came to discussing mediation, it became clear how important and future-oriented this is considered to be in the partner countries. This was proved by the statements from the participating countries on their respective practical experience and perspectives of mediation as a modern method of resolving conflict. In this context, the participants also shed light on the advantages and disadvantages of judicial mediation.

The fact that the assessment system in the participating countries is handled very differently became clear during numerous talks on the respective legal regulations.

About twenty representatives of the Associations of Judges in the Memorandum Group and several Georgian judges took part in the event. On the German side, the German Association of Judges made a contribution, as it had done in previous conferences of this kind, and was represented by its President, Jens Gnisa, Director of the local court in Bielefeld, and Jörn Müller, a judge at the local court of Worms.

The conference was seen on all sides as an important platform for the exchange of experiences between representatives of the justice system in various countries, which often find themselves dealing with similar reform topics. It was opened by the President of the Supreme Court of Georgia, Professor Dr. Nino Gvenetadze. As well as Joachim Hecker, who represented the German Embassy in Tbilisi, and the Managing Director of the IRZ, Veronika Keller-Engels, the Chairman of the Parliament of Georgia, Irakli Kobakhidze, also gave a welcome speech, in which he outlined the most important steps currently being undertaken in Georgia for reforming the justice system.

Straight after the event, the Memorandum Group held an internal meeting to discuss the further development and expansion of the group.

Delegation from the Supreme Judicial Council of Georgia visit Germany

From 23 to 25 November 2016, a delegation from the Supreme Judicial Council of Georgia visited Bremen and Karlsruhe in Germany. The delegation was welcomed to Karlsruhe by the President of the German Federal Court of Justice, Bettina Limperg. Discussions with the President and with two judges at the German Federal Court of Justice focussed on the introduction of the electronic justice system in Germany and Georgia and on justice and the media.

Afterwards, the delegation travelled to Bremen, where they met the President of the Hanseatic higher regional court, Karen Buse. The key priorities of this working session were the new regulations governing the retrial process in the Georgian code of criminal procedure and the electronic allocation of responsibilities. There was an intense and practice-oriented exchange of experiences between the German judges and the representatives of the Supreme Judicial Council of Georgia.

The Georgian guests also had the opportunity to meet the President of the German Association of Judges, Jens Gnisa, and to discuss the self-administration of judges and the independence of the judiciary.

As a self-governing judicial body, the Supreme Judicial Council deals with legal and political issues in connection with the further development of the law, the uniformity of case law and positioning within the judicial framework. In this respect, issues concerning the selection, recruitment and promotion of judges, as well as the practice of assessing them, were of particular interest.

Both the Georgian and the German parties emphasised the importance of this kind of exchange between specialists.