The judges from Montenegro at the Regional Court of Munich
The judges from Montenegro at the Regional Court of Munich

From 20 to 24 October 2019, Montenegrin judges were in Wolfratshausen and Munich in Bavaria for another working visit on the “Conduct of court hearings by judges and the role of judges in civil proceedings”. The visit was part of a programme of regular visits by Montenegrin judges to the Regional Court of Munich and the Local Court of Wolfratshausen to learn about jurisdiction in Germany. The President of the Bavarian Association of Judges and President of the Local Court, Andrea Titz, was once again heavily involved in the planning and organisation of the working visit. The working group from Montenegro was made up of high court and commercial court judges. The President of the Administrative Court of Montenegro was also present.

The Montenegrin guests attended hearings at the Regional Court and at the Local Court before taking advantage of the opportunity for intense expert discussions with the Presiding Judge at the Regional Court, Stephan Reich, and the Presiding Judge at the Local Court, Friederike Kirschstein-Freund, who had each presided over the hearings.

Another focus of the working visit was a presentation of the mandatory legal internship of legal trainees in Bavaria given by Christine Haumer, a judge at the Higher Regional Court and Head of mandatory legal training at the Higher Regional Court of Munich.

To round off the visit, there was a meeting with Michael Haußner, a former Secretary of State at the Ministry of Justice for the Federal State of Thüringen, and Andrea Titz. Both Michael Haußner, who used to be an advisor to the Ministry of Justice in Montenegro, and Andrea Titz, who has already carried out various training measures in Montenegro, are very familiar with the situation in Montenegro.

The Montenegrin guests were impressed with how German judges condense civil proceedings thanks to their open conduct of hearings and make an active contribution towards settlements. During an exchange of ideas between colleagues, it become clear that the different kinds of legal practice in Montenegro and Germany are due more to the different levels of legal socialisation than to differences in the law in its written form. Article 323 of the Montenegrin Code of Civil Procedure stipulates, similar to § 278 para. 1 of the German Code of Civil Procedure, that “throughout the entire process, the court will strive, in a way that does not compromise its impartiality, to get parties to agree on a settlement.” This proves that, as well as the harmonisation of legal provisions, intense training is also required to ensure the success of legal transformation and that a change in the traditional approach is often useful as well.