“Law and Transformation” conference held on 23 and 24 March in Belgrade

On 23 and 24 March, the local Law Faculty and the IRZ held a joint conference on “Law and Transformation” in Belgrade. The objective of this event was to review the progress of transformation in various areas of the law. Similarities and differences between the various legal fields were addressed, past errors were ascertained and recommendations were developed for future improvements.

Following welcome speeches from Professor Dr.Vedran Petrov, the vice dean of the university representing the dean, Prof. Dr. Sima Avramovic, Professor Dr. Radmila Vasic and the head of department at the IRZ, Dr. Stefan Pürner, the conference was divided by subject into seven panels. Speakers from Croatia, Montenegro, Slovenia, Serbia, Germany and Italy reported on various legal fields.

They covered basic issues such as the organisational approach to proposed legislation within the framework of transformation, aspects of EU harmonisation and proposals for reform from various legal fields. The main focus was on civil law, but public law – including tax law and criminal law – was also discussed. In spite – or perhaps because of – the wide range of topics covered, similarities were evident, particularly when it came to shortcomings.

These include the fact that the transformation has long been seen as an opportunity to issue new laws, and less as an occasion to work on the further training of law professionals. The fact that the legislation process had been started without firstly defining which legal tradition the new provisions should follow also received widespread criticism.

Since the conference transcript for the event is predominantly in English, the recommendations appearing in this report will also reach a wide circle of addresses.

Serbian working visit on administrative jurisdiction in partnership with the OSCE

The group of visitors after their discussions at the BMJV.The group of visitors after their discussions at the BMJV

From 6 to 10 November, the IRZ, together with the OSCE mission in Serbia, organised a working visit on administrative court proceedings in Germany. Members of the Serbian delegation, which was led by the Vice-President of the Serbian Administrative Court, Dušica Marinković, are preparing for the possible introduction of stages of appeal to administrative court proceedings in Serbia. During their visit, the focus was therefore on the issue of appeal, particularly with regard to its legitimacy.

The visit began with an introduction at the German Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection (BMJV), where Claudia Eller-Funke, a speaker from the department of International Legal Cooperation, welcomed the Serbian guests. Theodoros Mavridis, Public Prosecutor’s Office, department of administrative, financial and social jurisdiction at the BMJV, then provided a fundamental overview of administrative court proceedings in Germany. The next day, the knowledge gained here was expanded still further during a visit to a court hearing at the Administrative Court of Berlin and in discussions with presiding judge Jens Tegtmeier. This practical exchange of experiences continued with expert discussions at the “House of Law” with Dr. Florian von Alemann, a member of the Executive Committee of the Association of German Administrative Judges (Bundes Deutscher Verwaltungsrichter und Verwaltungsrichterinnen or BDVR).

The last stop on the working visit, which also included an overview of the work of the BMJV in general and a visit to the German Bundestag, was the German Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig. Here, Martin Steinkühler, one of the court judges, was available for in-depth discussions.

The visit to Germany provided plenty of valuable inspiration and showed the importance of keeping informed about the relevant practical framework when using foreign law as a point of reference. For example, it soon became clear that, in order to achieve effective legal protection in a system where appeals are admitted, there is a requirement for the appropriate quality of decisions made by administrative authorities and the court of first instance.

Regional conference on “The constitutional protection of property rights” in Serbia

From 11 to 13 October 2016, the regional conference on “The constitutional protection of property rights” was held in Vdrnik, Serbia. Representatives from the Constitutional Courts of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Montenegro also attended the conference.

The regional constitutional conference is part of the continuing, traditional and successful collaboration with the Serbian Constitutional Court. In her welcoming speech, the President of the Constitutional Court of Serbia, Vesna Ilić Prelić, was full of praise for this friendly cooperation, which has become more than just a partnership.

All the former Yugoslavian states have been through and are still going through the same legal transformation processes. The objective of the conference was therefore to encourage the exchange of experiences between the constitutional courts and to discuss how to deal with the constitutional right to property, especially in times of national and social upheaval. This applies in particular to the transition from socialism to a market economy.

The following presented country reports from their own constitutional courts:

  • Predrag Ćetković, Constitutional Judge, Serbia,
  • Dr. sc. Mato Arlović, Constitutional Judge, Croatia,
  • Hamdija Šarkinović, Constitutional Judge, Montenegro,
  • Mato Tadić, Constitutional Judge, Bosnia and Herzegovina and
  • Aleksandra Martinović, President of the Constitutional Court, Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Representing Germany at the conference, Prof. Dr. Udo Steiner, a former judge at the German Federal Constitutional Court from the University of Regensburg, talked to participants about German experiences after reunification and the related legal challenges, as well as the relationship between the German Federal Constitutional Court and the European Court of Human Rights.

The event provided additional proof of the importance of sharing and exchanging experiences and dialogue when it comes to the successful legal transformation of the former Yugoslavian states.