During the conference
During the conference

On 29 November 2019, a conference on “Legal Transplants – Lending Standards or the silent Fight for legal Domination?” took place in Belgrade. This conference was organised jointly by the IRZ, the Judicial Academy of Serbia and the non-governmental organisation Harmonius. Harmonius is a network of South-East European legal experts, who are working to ensure that their respective national laws are aligned with EU law.

The conference dealt with issues concerning the adoption of legal institutions from other laws and the resulting competition between the traditional continental European legal system and common law. It was aimed at law professionals in the region.

The event was opened by Dr. Nenad Tešić, Chairman of Harmonius, Nenad Vujić, Director of the Serbian Judicial Academy and lawyer Dr. Stefan Pürner, Head of the South-East Europe I section at the IRZ. Dr. Vujić used the opportunity to emphasise that one of the goals of this joint event held by the Judicial Academy and Harmonius is also for the academic world and practitioners to discuss legal innovations in more depth, which is not common practice.

The conference was made up of five panels with contributions by experts from various South-East European countries, who dealt with issues concerning substantive as well as adjective law.

Subjects ranged from property law to private international law and consumer protection. In terms of procedural law, one of the issues discussed was abridged procedures for the recovery of claims due to authenticated deeds. Other presentations covered the protection of human rights in accordance with the European Convention on Human Rights. The lectures presented plenty of opportunity for discussion and bilateral exchange, which the participants took advantage of even outside the actual agenda for the meeting.

Apart from individual legal transplants, the conference also covered the present general conditions, under which institutions from other laws are incorporated. In this respect, Dr. Nenad Tešić pointed out that legal transplants can also be a means for large countries to exercise political influence on smaller states. Following on from this, Dr. Christa Jessel Holst, a former Head of the South East Europe Unit at the Max Planck Institute in Hamburg, emphasised the regional nature of the conference and pointed out that exchanging ideas with colleagues from other countries with the same legal tradition also helps participants to recognise their own needs in the future development of the law in their own countries. This means that this dialogue also helps them to disengage from foreign influences, some of which are not very appropriate.

During the discussions, a new legal transplant in Serbian law was also mentioned, which is viewed with criticism by many participants. This is about a sentencing regulation, which was introduced to the penal code with the latest changes to the law in this area and is set out based on the American “three strikes law”. It means that compulsory sentences are increased for repeat offenders. However, some participants expressed reservations as far as the protection of human rights is concerned. They pointed out that this approach counteracts EU efforts to reduce prison populations in Europe.