High-profile conference on the role of judges in Belgrade

The President of the Bavarian Association of Judges, Andrea Titz, giving a TV interview during the conference
The President of the Bavarian Association of Judges, Andrea Titz, giving a TV interview during the conference

On 7 February 2019, a conference was held in the Serbian capital Belgrade on “The role of judges in legal proceedings”. This was another joint event organised by the Judges Association of Serbia and the IRZ. The objective of the event was to exchange experiences with regard to the role of judges in various types of proceedings, as well as in society in general.

Following on from opening speeches made by the President of the Judges Association of Serbia, Dragana Boljević, and the IRZ, lectures were given by the President of the Bavarian Association of Judges and Local Court Director, Andrea Titz, and by Zorica Bulajić, Nadežda Budić, Srđan Savić and Dr. Gordana Budojkoić, all of whom are judges at various Serbian courts.

The speeches shed light on various aspects of the role of judges in different types of proceedings, as well as in society in general. The broad thematic scope of these introductory speeches prepared the ground for some intense discussions. These covered the following topics, amongst others:

  • US influence on Serbian criminal procedural law,
  • The importance of the obligation of judges to provide information in civil proceedings based on the principle of negotiations and
  • The political activity of judges in Germany and Serbia.

The significance of the topics discussed at this conference was also underlined by the fact that both the state television network RTS and the news agency Tanjug sent reporters and camera crews to the event and by the attendance of representatives from various non-governmental organisations. As part of the EU’s strategy for the Western Balkans, particular importance is attributed to the subject of enhancing judicial independence and this high-profile event could make a contribution towards achieving this.

First workshop for IRZ alumni from South-East European states

Participants of the workshop
Participants of the workshop

From 7 to 9 December 2018, the first workshop for IRZ alumni from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia was held in Belgrade under the motto “News on German law and the law of the region”.

The aim of the workshop was to inform German-speaking alumni from previous IRZ programmes about current developments in German law. The participants had either already attended one of the annual “IRZ Summer Schools on German Law” in Bonn and Cologne, taken courses on legal terminology at the Faculties of Law in Belgrade and Sarajevo or graduated from a supplementary course in German Law in Sarajevo. The workshop offered a good opportunity for participants to discuss legal issues in the German language. Almost twenty of the more than fifty participants also gave short speeches on the new developments in the laws of their own countries of origin. The event was also an opportunity for people to develop their own professional networks.

During the opening ceremony, Matthias Schikorski from the German Embassy gave a speech, stressing in particular that measures such as thIs, which provide an “update on German law”, enhance the sustainability of previous IRZ measures considerably.

On the opening evening, various German-speaking law professionals from Serbia, including a judge at the Constitutional Court of Serbia, Professor Dr. Milan Skulic, reported on their own references to Germany and German law, as well as on the developments in German law that they consider to be particularly important.

The first half of the second day of the conference was devoted to the latest developments in German law, with the following speakers:

  • Eva Weinbeer from the department of Public Law at the University of Regensburg: German constitutional law;
  • Presiding Regional Court Judge Dr. Ulrike Phieler-Morbach (Regional Court of Potsdam): criminal law and criminal procedural law;
  • Lawyer Dr. Karoline Mihaljevic-Schulze (Berlin): civil law.

Some intense discussions followed on from the lectures by the legal experts.

In the afternoon, three working groups were held to discuss the topics

  • “Latest developments in the law of the region”,
  • “New jurisdiction at the German Federal Constitutional Court (BVerfG)” and
  • “How to set up a law firm”.

The last working group was carried out in the local language, so that participants from the English-speaking internship programmes run by the IRZ could also get involved.

As the participants agreed, this new type of event was a great success. They praised in particular the great opportunity to participate actively in German and the exchange of experiences with colleagues from other South-East European countries.

Supporting arbitration and Germany as a place of arbitration

Lawyer Korinna von Trotha, Head of the Berlin office of the DIS
Lawyer Korinna von Trotha, Head of the Berlin office of the DIS

On 5 December 2018, the annual conference on current arbitration issues was held jointly by the German Arbitration Institute (DIS), the German-Serbian Chamber of Commerce (AHK) and the IRZ in Belgrade.

At the opening ceremony, Martin Knapp, Managing Director of the AHK in Serbia, emphasised the traditional nature of this joint event. The representative from the German Embassy, Matthias Schikorski, said in his opening speech that events such as this also contribute towards promoting Germany as a place of arbitration.

This was followed by more speeches:

  • Prof. Dr. Vladimir Pavić (Vice-President of the Permanent Court of Commercial Arbitration at the Serbian Chamber of Commerce): Costs of arbitration proceedings
  • Lawyer Korinna von Trotha (Head of the Berlin office of the DIS): New rules of procedure at the DIS;
  • Former Minister of Justice Prof. Dr. Tibor Varady: Who can be an arbitrator these days?

Since the majority of the participants had experience of arbitration proceedings, the discussions following each of the lectures were extremely lively and covered, as well as the lectures themselves, the presentation of many practical cases.

With regards to the new arbitration rules at the DIS, it was agreed that these make a significant contribution towards making arbitration proceedings according to DIS rules even more appealing.