Graphics: IRZ
Graphics: IRZ

On 11 May 2021, the first of a series of workshops was held on the "Case method as a contribution to practice-oriented legal training". The workshop was organised jointly by the Belgrade Institute of Comparative Law and IRZ.

The series of events aims to offer ideas for a stronger integration of the expert opinion method in the training and examination of future lawyers.

The Director of the Belgrade Institute, Professor Vladimir Čolović, and IRZ Head of Section Dr Stefan Pürner opened the event, which was organised as a round table. There were then keynote speeches, each of which was followed by rounds of questions and comments. The results were finally summarised in a general discussion.

The speakers were selected in such a way that they each reported from a different perspective on their experiences with the expert resolution of complex legal cases.

The first keynote speech was given by Professor Zlatan Meskić, who completed his legal training including his doctorate in Vienna and had therefore already familiarised himself with the case method as a student. As a university lecturer, Professor Meskić uses this method in his own courses at the University of Zenica in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Prince Sultan University in Saudi Arabia.

Professor Meskić's lecture was followed by a presentation by lawyer Nicola Dašić. He is an alumnus of the course in German legal terminology offered by IRZ in Belgrade and has successfully completed a Master's degree in German law in Bonn. Nicola Dašić reported from the perspective of a Serbian graduate who only got to know the German legal education system after his training.

The final presentations were given by the criminal law expert Professor Nataša Mrvić Petrović and the civil law expert Professor Miloš Živković from Belgrade. Both work intensively with the case method in their courses.

Despite the online format, intensive discussions took place between the almost 30 participants from Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina after the presentations, which lasted far beyond the scheduled event time.

One of the results of this exchange of ideas was that the case method is mainly used by younger university lecturers. However, since the exams are still held by professors who use the traditional method and have individual questions answered orally, a large proportion of students still see training in solving complex cases as an avoidable additional expense.

This is all the more regrettable because, according to some participants, the lack of practical case work and the written elaboration of solutions is also reflected in the poor quality of the judgements, even of higher courts. These are often decided without systematic examination and justification according to general considerations of legality. Since the uniformity and reviewability of case law also suffers as a result, this leads to legal uncertainty in the long term. Therefore, overriding rule of law issues would also speak in favour of making the case method compulsory in legal education.

The workshop series will continue with an event on legal training in Germany and the detailed presentation of training cases from the field of private international law.