Online Autumn Academy on national and international commercial Law

The speakers of the Autumn Academy with Dr. Frauke Bachler, Chief Executive of the IRZ, Prof. Dr Klaus Weber, Member of the Executive Board of the publishing house C.H. Beck, and Project Area Manager Angela Schmeink (below from left to right)
The speakers of the Autumn Academy with Dr. Frauke Bachler, Chief Executive of the IRZ, Prof. Dr Klaus Weber, Member of the Executive Board of the publishing house C.H. Beck, and Project Area Manager Angela Schmeink (below from left to right)

A generous grant from the publishing house C.H. Beck enabled IRZ to host the multilateral online conference "National and international commercial Law - Selected Aspects and Current Developments" from 16 to 18 November 2021 for an extended group of participants from nine of our partner states. The participants consisted of young lawyers and lawyers from academia and practice from the countries of the Western Balkans and the Eastern Partnership (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia as well as Armenia, Georgia, Ukraine). Prof. Dr. Klaus Weber, member of the management board of the publishing house C.H. Beck, gave a warm welcome to the participants before the programme was opened.

In the first part of the conference, a total of 110 participants dealt with German civil, commercial and company law as well as civil procedural law, furthermore with international private law and international civil procedural law. 

The speakers, Dr Tobias Oelsner, judge at the Berlin Regional Court, and Prof. Dr Florian Eichel, professor of civil procedural law and private international law at the University of Bern, succeeded excellently in conveying the principles of the complex subject matter in an understandable and clear manner. A practical addition was the film produced by IRZ for this conference: in it, a professional judge at a German court negotiates a fictional commercial law case using the UN Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods. In this way, the course of a trial was illustrated using an example and could then be discussed with the speakers.

The second day was dedicated to the legal field of intellectual property: Dr Oliver Schön, judge at the Munich I Regional Court, used illustrative cases to explain judicial practice in copyright law as well as the legal protection of designs, trademarks and utility models.

Kay Weidner, press officer at the Federal Cartel Office, familiarised the participants with the legal foundations of cartel law for the protection of free competition. He presented current examples from the digital world on the other relevant regulations - merger control and abuse control.

Dr Ina Schnurr, judge at the Federal Patent Court, rounded off the day with remarks on German patent law. The focus was on nullity actions, which are regularly brought in connection with patent infringement disputes. It was of particular interest that the judges working at the Federal Patent Court are either technically trained or have a technical education and an additional legal qualification, as the subjects of the proceedings are regularly technically highly complex. 

The third day focused on arbitration. The German Arbitration Institute (DIS) was presented by its Deputy Secretary General, Viktor von Essen. He gave an overview of the competences for the administration of arbitration proceedings and other alternative dispute resolution procedures. The central set of rules are the DIS Arbitration Rules, which were only amended in 2021 to increase efficiency, quality assurance and transparency. The presentations outlined the individual phases of commercial disputes before the DIS Arbitration Courts with their opportunities and risks and were underpinned with statistical data. 

The necessary considerations in connection with arbitration proceedings from the point of view of an affected party were discussed by the lawyer Jan K. Schäfer, partner at King & Spalding, who has many years of relevant experience. He went into the important points of reference in the individual fields of action with a view to tactics and strategy. Due to his extensive practical experience, individual aspects could be deepened on the basis of concrete cases against a realistic background.

The participants expressed great appreciation for the conference programme and emphasised that it had proved extremely useful for their own professional context. The exchange with the other foreign colleagues was also well received.  

The conference language was German, but thanks to a technically professional infrastructure and excellent language skills, the simultaneous (relay) interpretation in three foreign languages was flawless throughout.

Seminar for Arabic-speaking refugee lawyers on the topics of "family reunification and individual labour law"

Graphics: IRZ
Graphics: IRZ

As part of the funding project for the sustainable support of young lawyers from the Middle East, IRZ organised an online seminar for Arabic-speaking refugee lawyers on the topics of "Family reunification and individual labour law" on 24 and 25 October 2021. The event was funded by the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection (BMJV). 

The evaluation of the last face-to-face event in August 2021 made it clear that the topic of asylum law was of particular interest to the participants. For this reason, IRZ focused the content of the course on this topic and deepened it. The seminar aimed to support the Arabic-speaking refugee lawyers in expanding their already acquired legal knowledge in the areas of asylum and labour law and in this way to promote their social and professional integration. 

After the welcome at the beginning of the seminar, the participants first introduced themselves: Some had completed their legal studies in their home country and had already worked as lawyers there. Others had studied at a German university and completed a Master's degree (LL.M). 

The following experts participated in the event on behalf of IRZ: 

  • Dr Helena Isabel Maier, lawyer
  • Manuela Landuris, independent consultant for private international law and international family law 
  • Franz Beil,fully qualified lawyer (specialising in labour and social law) 

The participants were able to deepen their acquired knowledge of asylum law through the expert presentations. Specifically, they dealt with the procedure, the application, the duration of the procedure and the special features of family reunification with family members from third countries in Germany. In addition, the participants familiarised themselves with the basics of labour law using practical examples. The focus was on the establishment, content and termination of an employment relationship.

 The participants, for whom the topics of the seminar are of great relevance in their private and professional lives, used the lectures for lively discussions and an intensive exchange of experiences with the experts. In November and December 2021, selected participants are given the opportunity for a two-week job shadowing on the topic of asylum law in a law firm in order to gain insights into practical work and to find an easier entry into the German labour market.

Multilateral internship programme for lawyers

The participants of the multilateral internship programme for lawyers with the representative of the BRAK, lawyer Khalil Hassanain (2nd from left)
The participants of the multilateral internship programme for lawyers with the representative of the BRAK, lawyer Khalil Hassanain (2nd from left)

Together with the German Federal Bar (Bundesrechtsanwaltskammer) and the German Bar Association (Deutscher Anwaltverein), IRZ has been running an annual multilateral internship programme in the German language for lawyers since 1994. After the programme was cancelled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it went ahead this year as a face-to-face event from 24 September to 28 October 2021. 

A full EU-compliant vaccine certificate was required for attendance at the event. Since not all the 15 participants who had been due to take part in the 2020 internship programme were able to fulfil this requirement (amongst other reasons), only a small group of six lawyers from five countries attended the internship programme. 

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During a seminar

The eight-day introductory seminar in Bonn at the start of the programme covered the German professional law for lawyers, which were presented to the participants by members from the German Federal Bar and the German Bar Association, as well as selected topics concerning German and European civil and commercial law, which were presented by speakers from the legal profession.

Afterwards, the participants spent three and a half weeks in law firms, where they were able to deepen their knowledge of German law in a practical way and gain an insight into the activities and working methods of their German colleagues. Finally, a one-day evaluation seminar took place in Bonn, which was dedicated to the written evaluation of the IRZ programme, as well as the oral exchange of experiences between the participants. 

No cuts were made to the usual duration of the internship programme and its structure, even under the prevailing pandemic conditions. In order to maximise the professional benefit of the internship programme for the participants, it was important to maintain the link between theory and practice that characterises the internship programme, even under the current conditions. The participants were also provided with the necessary time frame to enable an intensive professional exchange among themselves and with the lawyers of their host law firms. 

Special emphasis is always placed on these aspects when planning and implementing the internship programme. This is the only way of establishing the basis for achieving the desired long-term goal of the internship programme, which is to promote cooperation between lawyers in different countries.