Two-day professional exchange with the constitutional courts and the Supreme Courts

Kosovo, Republic of Albania

The German Foundation for International Legal Cooperation (IRZ) organised the specialist conference “Cooperation of ordinary general jurisdiction and constitutional court jurisdiction for safeguarding the rule of law – Experiences from Kosovo, Albania and Germany” on 17th and 18th May 2022 in Kosovo.

More than 80 judges as well as academic employees of both the constitutional courts and the Supreme Courts of the Republics of Kosovo and Albania shared their experiences with respect to allocation of rights and duties between the constitutional court jurisdiction and the ordinary general jurisdiction. On behalf of the IRZ, Prof. Dr Reinhard Gaier, Judge at the Federal Constitutional Court (former), made a significant contribution to the event from the German side.

In their welcome address, the four presiding judges emphasised the importance of a regional exchange of experiences across courts and were reminiscent of the development of the relationships of both the general jurisdictions.

The first panel of the conference dwelt on the responsibility of the constitutional courts and the role of the ordinary courts in constitutional interpretation of laws. In his keynote address, Prof. Dr Gaier presented the process of precise judicial review and differentiated between the judicial competence of each court and the monopoly of rejection of the Federal Constitutional Court. The four participants from the four courts represented later discussed the practical implementation of the concrete process of judicial review in Kosovo and Albania and discussed current developments and problems.

The second panel discussed the topic of obviously incorrect application of the law and legal interpretation by the ordinary general jurisdiction and proffered the possibility of a comprehensive consideration from the point of view of both constitutional courts and Supreme Courts. In the process, the case-law of the European Court for Human Rights (ECHR) as well as the German practice presented by Prof Dr Gaier was also included and discussed. In this context, Prof Dr Gaier stressed that the German Federal Constitutional Court examines only the constitutional law and limits its monitoring of the decisions of the ordinary courts only to violations of the constitution.

The first day of the event ended with lively discussions between the participants and a summarising of the conclusions by Prof Dr Gaier.

On the following day, the question of consolidation of the national case-law and legal certainty was discussed in a third panel, as an essential component of a fair proceeding. While the Albanian and Kosovan speakers mainly adduced to the case-law of the ECHR in this respect, Prof Dr Gaier highlighted this question – as per German practice – under the constitutional principle of rule of law.

The fourth and last panel focussed on the role of the ordinary courts in the full implementation of the judgements of the constitutional courts for compensating for breaches of human rights. In this context, interim relief due to lengthy proceedings and its effect on the ordinary general jurisdiction was discussed.

The event was received with great interest by the participants. The introductory speeches by Prof Dr Gaier and the subsequent presentations by the Kosovan and Albanian participants provided a basis for an intensive exchange on experiences as well as current developments and challenges in Kosovo and Albania. The participants also discussed possible solutions based on the respective legal systems.

The event was financed by the Federal Ministry of Justice within the framework of institutional cooperation.

The cooperation with the constitutional courts and the Supreme Courts of both countries is expected to be pursued and intensified in the future.

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.