Training in advance of amendments to the mediation law

Graphics: IRZ
Graphics: IRZ
North Macedonia

On 23 March 2021, the “Pavel Shatev” Academy of Judges and Public Prosecutors and IRZ organised their first joint online training session on “The stages and types of mediation”. The event was prompted by the upcoming amendments to the mediation law, which represent an important part of judicial reform. The target group was therefore made up of judges, as well as future and current mediators.

After the welcome speeches by Sonja Mojsovska from the Academy and Dr. Stefan Pürner representing IRZ, the following lectures took place:

  • Stevkova Nikolovska (Skopje): An introduction to mediation - present situation and future perspectives
  • Dr. Zoran Vuchev (Skopje): Mediation in labour, family and commercial disputes
  • Ingrid Hönlinger (Ludwigsburg): Mediation in Germany

During the lectures, it became clear that mediation in North Macedonia is not yet given the required level of priority. The amendments to the law along with training courses such as this one should help to achieve this. The common theme throughout all the lectures was that mediation enables the independent resolution of disputes, as well as saving costs.

Unlike in other judicial systems, mediation is permitted for family cases in North Macedonia only in the event of disputes over property, but not when it comes to rights of custody and access. Initiatives to try to change the provisions relating to this have not met with any success so far. From a German point of view, it is clear that the use of mediation for labour disputes is very widespread in North Macedonia and results in a settlement in over 90 percent of cases. During the discussions, it was revealed that the heavy use of mediation in this area is above all down to the high cost risk of settling labour disputes in court in North Macedonia.

IRZ expert Ingrid Hönlinger gave a lecture on the current situation in Germany for mediation, including the legal framework. A lawyer and certified mediator, she also presented the model for the five stages of mediation:

  1. Clarification of tasks
  2. Identification of issues
  3. Positions and interests / exploration of views and background
  4. Collection and assessment of possible solutions
  5. Concluding agreemen
As part of this presentation, she also gave plenty of practical tips on the soft skills required of mediators. The event was well-attended by almost forty participants, including the lawyer Dr. Veronika Horrer, who is Managing Director of the German Federal Bar Association (BRAK) and responsible for cooperation with IRZ, and who wanted to learn about the situation with regards to mediation in North Macedonia.

Advice on the reform of the penal code in North Macedonia

Graphics: IRZ
Graphics: IRZ
North Macedonia

IRZ has been advising the Ministry of Justice of North Macedonia for several months now on its reform of the penal code. The reform process is being supported by a working group from the Ministry, which held its inaugural meeting online on 15 February 2021. The twenty or so legal experts and legal practitioners in the working group were welcomed to the meeting by Nikolina Mikeska from the Ministry of Justice of North Macedonia, Ana Novakova Zhikova from the OSCE Mission in Skopje, and Dr. Stefan Pürner, the responsible IRZ Head of Section.

During the meeting, the leader of the working group, Prof. Dr. Kambovski, expressed the need for a unified system and uniform structures in terms of the penalties provided for by the law. The activities of the working group and the reform process for the penal code in North Macedonia will focus on fulfilling this requirement over the coming months.

During the second half of 2021, the draft of the revised penal code will be presented to the public, thereby allowing any interested parties in the professional community to have a say in the reform process.

As part of the consultancy services provided by IRZ, German legal experts from the academic and business worlds have already given their expert opinions on draft criminal law provisions. These reports cover the following subjects:

  • economic crime
  • fighting terrorism
  • cybercrime
  • protection of elections
  • cloning and artificial parenthood
  • insolvency offences

The authors gave their expert opinions on draft laws from North Macedonia, taking into account the contents of the corresponding penal law provisions in Germany and any relevant international and European provisions.

Seminars on “Conduct of court hearings by judges” and “Encouraging settlements in civil proceedings”

Graphics: IRZ
Graphics: IRZ
North Macedonia

On 7 and 9 December 2020, IRZ, together with the “Training Academy for Judges and Public Prosecutors” for North Macedonia held two online seminars on the subjects mentioned above.

Both events for judges from North Macedonia were opened by the Director of the Academy, Prof. Dr. Natasha Gabler Damjovska, and IRZ Head of Section Dr. Stefan Pürner. Once the 60 or so participants had been welcomed to the seminars, lectures were given from the points of view of both countries. The speakers at the seminars were:

"Conduct of court hearings by judges”

  • Keti Germanova, a judge at the Local Court of Skopje
  • Daniel Jung, a Regional Court judge and lecturer at the University of Applied Sciences for the Administration of Justice of North Rhine-Westphalia

“Encouraging settlements in civil processes”

  • Katerina Goeorgievska, a judge at the Court of Appeal in Skopje
  • Dr. Ingo Werner, a judge at the Higher Regional Court of Cologne

Both events reflected the role of judges in civil law. The discussions focussed in particular on the question of the extent to which the relevant rules of procedure allow judges to negotiate actively with parties and their representatives on the likelihood of the success of a claim and to make definitive settlement proposals.

According to article 307, paragraph 3 of the code of civil procedure for North Macedonia, judges must point out the possibility of a settlement during proceedings and “help” (помогне) the parties to agree on such a settlement. Controversial discussions on this point of “helping” followed on from the lectures, since the Macedonian participants were worried that they might be seen as biased if they, for example, talked about the legal situation with the parties or made definitive suggestions for settlements. The judicial self-perception of judges often has a bigger influence here on the effectiveness of court proceedings than the written provisions of the law.

The judicial self-perception of German legal practice and their positive experiences with giving judicial advice could provide important momentum in this respect.