Bilateral conferences in Moscow and Kaluga on the role of the internet in official business

In partnership with the Law Academy of the Ministry of Justice for the Russian Federation, the IRZ held a conference on “The Internet in official business: legal organization and security” in Moscow on 30 June 2016. The event was repeated with the same lectures on 1 July in Kaluga.

Russian scientists reported on the legal organization of the use of internet technologies in state administration. In this context, the need to develop an independent code of information was one of the subjects that was addressed. During the event, the Russian speakers also examined the legal nature of the “Electronic state” and “E-government” and proposed legal approaches to these institutions. The Russian colleagues also reported on the legal safeguarding of the international security of information. It was noted that, due to the fact that the internet transcends national borders and in view of the application of international law to the territory of the Russian Federation, intense international legal cooperation is extremely important.

The German speakers described the legal framework for information technology in Germany. The participants in the conference were informed about the IT Security Act, which came into force in Germany in 2015. The legal right to information and its restrictions were also discussed. The German experts also reported specifically on the digitalization of legal proceedings in Germany. In this respect, there was a presentation of the pilot project carried out by the higher regional court of Cologne for processing records purely electronically. The experiences of the German colleagues in this area were very valuable for the Russian participants, especially in view of the fact that the transition to the electronic filing of documents is due to take place over the coming year in Russia.

Conference on the role played by local government authorities in developing the local economy

On 25 May 2016, a conference was held in Moscow on “Developing the local economy: the role of local government authorities”. The conference was organised by the IRZ together with the Russian Committee for Civil Initiatives (KGI). This event was part of a project financed by the German Foreign Office on “Supporting legal collaboration in the Russian Federation”.

Leading Russian academics from the fields of community and tax law, experienced financial experts and local government agency representatives took part in the conference. From the German side, the former Mayor of Schweinfurt, Gudrun Grieser, and the Managing Director of GRIBS (a company offering advice and consultancy for innovations and start-ups based in Schweinfurt, Germany), Reinhold Karl, took part in the event.

The Russian speakers reported on the legal and administrative options for local communities to support small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The individual mechanisms for providing legal support and the potential for providing informal support and advice were discussed. Questions were raised about the lack of efficiency in implementing legal measures for supporting SMEs. The Russian experts provided an in-depth insight into the fiscal and banking regulations for supporting SMEs. In this respect, the advantages and disadvantages of the Russian system of collecting taxes in the workplace rather than at the home of the tax-payer were discussed, amongst other things. Small communities situated close to larger and economically stronger towns (satellite communities) are at a particular disadvantage thanks to the current tax collection system, which means that there is no or insufficient motivation to support economic development at community level.

The German speakers presented both the legal foundations and their practical experience of community support for the local economy. They explained, amongst other things, the relevant provisions of the German Commercial and Civil Codes (HGB and BGB), the law on limited liability companies (GmbHG) and trade regulations (GewO). They also reported on community support for the economy through the optimisation of location factors, such as the designation of adequate commercial premises, the efficient exploitation of industrial estates, attractive local taxes and the development and support of business incubators sponsored by the community. Further potential for community support for the economy through the upkeep of location factors, such as the community allocation policy, town planning that takes start-ups into account and building permit processes, was also discussed. The German representatives also provided a comprehensive overview of the existing programme in Germany for supporting SMEs. Following the lectures, there were some lively discussions about the similarities and differences between the various measures and mechanisms for supporting SMEs in Russia and Germany.

13th German Week in St. Petersburg

German Week 2016 was the 13th edition of this event, which this year took place from 13th to 21st April in St. Petersburg under the motto “Responsibility - Dialogue - Openness”. It was a resounding success. This year once again, the IRZ supported the German Consulate General in St. Petersburg and the Russian Law Academy of the Ministry of Justice for the Russian Federation as they prepared and developed the programme for a forum on “Problems and perspectives for development in the field of intellectual property”, which was on the agenda for 19th April 2016.

Almost 10,000 visitors to German Week could choose from around 90 events covering culture, education, economy, law and science, which were aimed at promoting a vibrant and modern picture of Germany. This series of events is traditionally organised by the Consulate General of the Federal Republic of Germany in partnership with the German-Russian Chamber of Commerce, Filiale Nordwest, and the Goethe Institute and it is the highlight of German cultural life in St. Petersburg. The federal state of Brandenburg was the partner state for this year’s German Week. More than 50 other organisations and companies were also involved in German Week, with their own contributions to the programme or as sponsors.

The event was opened by the Consul General for the Federal Republic of Germany in St. Petersburg, Dr. Heike Peitsch. On the Russian side, Artur O. Parfentschikow, Head of the Federal Service for the Judiciary, Danil W. Rybin, Director of the Russian Law Academy of the Ministry of Justice for the Russian Federation and Pjotr W. Gerassimenko, President of the association of notaries in St. Petersburg, welcomed the participants.

Around 50 people from the legal profession, universities and the media took part in this event, which was held in the Consulate General.

On the German side, Dr. Oliver Schön, a judge at the Regional Court of Munich, and Laura Philipp, a consultant at the German Patent and Trade Mark Office in Munich, contributed to the meeting with lectures on comparative law. German and Russian law professionals took part in lively discussions on current topics in the field of intellectual property, including the system for the legal enforcement of industrial property rights, the inheritance and execution of copyright, the collective perception of rights and the role and function of copyright collectives. The areas of discussion were of enormous practical relevance to the Russian experts present and were immediately met with great interest. Lively discussions and intense exchanges of expertise between the Russian and German sides meant that - even in these times of political unrest - the dialogue and successful cooperation, which as far as legal collaboration is concerned has existed for years, will be continued.

In future years, the IRZ will continue to play an active role in organising the now traditional German Week in St. Petersburg.