On 3 and 4 November 2016, the association of judges of Moldova and the IRZ once more organised the annual conference of the so-called “Memorandum Group” founded some years ago within the International Association of Judges (IAJ). The “Memorandum Group” is a group of associations of judges, mainly from post-Soviet member states, which meets once a year, if possible, to discuss specific legal and professional topics for these countries.

The IRZ has been promoting this professional exchange right from the start and has supported individual members at a national level providing legal advice on many of these topics, or the topics have been discussed at a bilateral level after the annual meetings, thus making use of diverse synergies. These conferences offer above all the opportunity to discuss and compare different solution approaches against a comparable historical and cultural legal background and similar political conditions. Thus they can contribute the best possible approaches for reform to the respective reform discussions.

The focus has been on judicial independence, disciplinary law and appraisals as well as for example the law on legal remedies or means to expedite proceedings to relieve the judiciary. The German Association of Judges (German abbreviation DRB) has an advisory status in the above-mentioned “Memorandum Group”, which means that German expertise and German experiences can be directly integrated.

This year’s conference at the Supreme Court in Chisinau dealt with the question how uniform case law can be ensured. Of particular interest for the participants from the Republic of Moldova, Ukraine, Armenia, Georgia and Kazakhstan was the conflict between the interest in a uniform case law and judicial independence in the face of frequent and often poorly structured legislative changes. It was also discussed whether the “advisory statements” or “recommendations” given outside the regular stages of appeal are binding for the courts of first instance.

Jens Gnisa, chairman of the DRB executive committee and director of the local court of Bielefeld, and Jörn Müller, judge at the local court of Worms and member of the DRB working group on international affairs, covered the following topics in their lectures and the following discussions:

  • German experiences with the harmonisation of case law throughout the stages of appeal,
  • judicial practice taking into account the decisions rendered by the highest appeal court,
  • the establishment of the grand / joint senates,
  • the effect of constitutional court decisions and ECtHR decisions and
  • issues of disciplinary law.
Next year, the IRZ will follow up on the topics of this conference at a bilateral level with the association of judges of Ukraine. The next conference of the “Memorandum Group” will presumably deal with appraisal issues.