Hans Günther Mattern, German Ambassador in Montenegro
Hans Günther Mattern, German Ambassador in Montenegro

From 23 to 25 May 2018, a regional conference on issues concerning the responsibility of Constitutional Courts as opposed to the responsibility of Supreme Courts was held in Budva, Montenegro. The event was organised by the Constitutional Court of the host country together with the IRZ and was addressed to constitutional court judges from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Serbia and Slovenia.

The conference was opened by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Justice Zoran Pažin, the President of the Constitutional Court of Montenegro, Dr. Dragoljub Drašković, and the German Ambassador in Montenegro, Hans Günther Mattern.

This was followed by reports from the participating states. The speakers were

  • Dr. Dragoljub Draškovic, President of the Constitutional Court of Montenegro,
  • Nikola Ivanovksi, President of the Constitutional Court of Macedonia
  • Valerija Galić, Constitutional Court judge, Bosnia and Herzegovina,
  • Mato Arlović, Constitutional Court Judge, Croatia,
  • Miroslav Nikolić, Constitutional Court Judge, Serbia and
  • Dr. Matej Accetto, Constitutional Court Judge, Slovenia.

A German lecture on “Violations to the constitution by ordinary courts restricting the responsibility of constitutional courts” was given by Winfried Schubert, who as a former President of the Constitutional Court of the State of Saxony-Anhalt and of the Higher Regional Court of Naumberg has gained experience in prominent positions in both of the jurisdictions concerned.

The diverse experiences of participants from six different countries resulted in some lively discussions. Based on the principle of judicial self restraint, groups of cases were presented, in which the constitutional courts had exceptionally overturned judgements from ordinary courts because these had violated not only statutory law but also basic rights.

The “Schuhmann‘sche” formula was consulted several times for the differentiation. This formula dictates that the decisions of the courts are constitutional despite any errors of law, if the solution they have come to would be constitutional if the legislature had imposed this solution itself.

The practical significance of the topic is also proven by the fact that the Constitutional Court of Montenegro currently grants one third of all constitutional complaints against judgements.