Participants in the workshop
Participants in the workshop

The second regional workshop on “News on German law” took place from 13 to 15 December 2019 in Belgrade. Most of the participants were German-speaking alumni of various IRZ programmes. People came from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, North Macedonia and various parts of Serbia to take part in the workshop.

On the opening evening, Matthias Schikorski, the German Embassy’s advisor on political issues and migration, welcomed the participants. One of the subjects he talked about was the importance of this kind of event for the networking of legal experts in South-East Europe.

The opening lecture on the subject of “The role of German law in teaching and research at the Law Faculty of the University of Kragujevac” was given by Prof. Dr. Slavko Đorđević. His lecture made it clear to the participants that the systematic consideration of German law can open up some new areas of professional activity

To prepare for the topics covered during the two-day workshop, a quiz was organised as an unusual way of providing information on German law. The participants got together in small groups to discuss the problems and solve them together, before getting to know one another (even better) at the subsequent dinner.

They were also able to find out at first hand about the possibilities of funding from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), since its Director in Serbia, Dr. Simone Heine, also attended the event.

On the second day of the workshop, the speakers presented various current topics of German law:

  • Eva Weinbeer, Research Assistant, Regensburg: Current developments in the case law of the German Constitutional Court
  • Dr. Ulrike Phieler Morbach, Presiding Judge at the Regional Court of Berlin: Current developments in German criminal law and criminal procedure law
  • Lawyer Dr. Karolina Mihaljević-Schulze, Berlin: Current developments in German civil law
  • Dr. Bertram Morbach, a former personnel manager and honorary judge from Berlin: Current developments in German labour law

Special consideration was also paid to the lectures given by two IRZ alumni, who are currently studying for a Masters in Bonn on scholarships. They spoke in German about their work on German law for their Masters degrees:

  • Peter Brudar: Algorithms and collusion
  • Nikola Dašić: The recognition of under-age marriages that have taken place abroad

The participants discussed the lecture topics in more detail in German during various working groups and discussion groups. Despite the language barrier, intense discussions took place, with the participants also talking about their own experiences in their home countries. It soon became clear, for example, that there are considerable differences in the labour law of Croatia, which is already a member of the EU, compared with the previous legislation that covered the whole of Yugoslavia; whilst in Bosnia and Herzegovina, for example, they are still working with the traditional models in many areas. In the field of criminal law, there are also considerable differences between the two entities of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Federation of Bosnia and the Republic of Srpska. Whilst in the Federation, prison sentences of up to one year can be avoided by paying daily rates, in the Republic of Srpska even short prison sentences are enforced. According to a lawyer working as a criminal defence lawyer in both entities, this leads to a significantly larger number of defendants in the Republic of Srpska than in the Federation being forced to enter a “plea bargaining”, which was introduced in Bosnia and Herzegovina according to the US model.

The key results of the working groups in the workshop were presented in a plenary session to give the participants an overview of all the topics discussed. At the same time, this also prepared the way for concluding general discussions, which continued with bilateral talks after the event had officially ended.

As the participants agreed, this type of event, which was first introduced last year and has now been further developed, was a great success. As well as bringing their own knowledge up to date and networking with others, the short lectures and reports also provided quite a number of the participants with their first opportunity to hold legal talks in a relaxed atmosphere in the German language.