Regional Constitutional Court Conference in Budva

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.

Seminar on law enforcement proceedings in Podgorica

A view of the meeting room
A view of the meeting room

On 15 September, a seminar on the “Enforcement and settlement of claims” was held jointly by the IRZ and the Centre for Training in Judiciary and State Prosecution in the Montenegrin capital, Podgorica. The seminar was the first to address both judges and court bailiffs.

The event was opened by the President of the Centre’s Management Committee, Senka Danilović, and the President of the Chamber of Court Bailiffs, Vidak Latković. Following the seminar, the Centre and the Chamber signed a cooperation agreement for training the professional groups mentioned above in law enforcement proceedings.

The direct exchange between judges and court bailiffs led to particularly intense discussions about the speeches made by judge Milena Matović from Podgorica and Prof. Dr. Aleš Galič from Ljubljana, who presented the procedures used in Slovenia. The subjects discussed ranged from problems with proper notification to the specific nature of law enforcement in family matters and questions concerning the value of the lawsuit.

The German Ambassador, Hans Günther Mattern, also underlined the importance of the discussions, taking part himself in the seminar once he had given a welcome speech. He expressly noted that during his time in Montenegro, he had not as yet attended any further education events in which the discussions had been as intense as at this one.

The event was a continuation of the long-term cooperation focussing on civil law between the IRZ and the Centre for Training in Judiciary and State Prosecution.

Discussion on the opinions of the CCJE attended by high-ranking participants in Podgorica

During a high-profile conference held on 15 May in the Montenegrin capital, Podgorica, the translation of the opinions of the Consultative Council of European Judges (CCJE) was presented. The publishers of the almost 400-page document (download as PDF file) had invited the Montenegrin Centre for Training in Judiciary and State Prosecution and the IRZ.

The welcoming speech by German Ambassador Hans Günther Mattern was followed by opening reports from the President of the Managing Committee for the Centre, Senka Danilovic, a judge at the High Court in Podgorica, and from Dr. Stefan Pürner from the IRZ.

The reports, which introduced selected opinions and the corresponding ECtHR case law, were presented by

  • Valentina Pavličić, government representative for Montenegro at the ECtHR and representative for Montenegro at the CCJE, and
  • Andrea Titz, President of the Bavarian Association of Judges and Director of the local court of Wolfratshausen.

Participants included presiding judges, judges at the Supreme Court and a former Minister of Justice. This composition led to multifaceted discussions, during which the qualitative demands on the contents of court decisions were also intensively discussed.

A repeated request from participants was for the topics addressed in the opinions to be discussed further at subsequent events.

The document with the translations is also being distributed by the IRZ in other countries in the region, which have (very) similar languages.