Belgrade law students on their way to Europe

For the third time now, the Masters course on European Integration of the Law Faculty of the University of Belgrade and the IRZ organised a study visit to Strasbourg, Luxembourg, Karlsruhe and Brussels from 4 to 7 July 2016. The 15 participating students were accompanied by two lecturers and completed an extensive visitor programme of the following institutions:

  • Council of Europe,
  • German Federal Constitutional Court,
  • European Court of Justice,
  • European Commission and
  • European Parliament.

They had many opportunities for direct personal talks, e.g. with the Serbian Judge at the ECtHR Branko Lubarda and the Head of the Serbian Mission to the EU, Ambassador Duško Lopandic. Moreover, the attendance at a court hearing at the Strasbourg Court was part of the programme.

Many aspects, which the students had already known in theory from their lectures, now gained an illuminating practical dimension. The insights they gained will not only motivate the students to study the particular subjects in more detail, but will also considerably help them understand the subject matter.

International Conference on Insurance Law in Serbia with the GDV and IRZ

Dr. Fabian Kühnhausen, GDV, at his well-attended lecture on Solvency IIDr. Fabian Kühnhausen, GDV, at his well-attended lecture on Solvency II

The 17th International Insurance Law conference organised by the Association for Insurance Law of Serbia was held on 22 and 23 April 2016. It has been supported for many years by the IRZ and the German Insurance Association (Gesamtverband der Deutschen Versicherungswirtschaft or GDV). As in 2015, the IRZ and GDV also helped to organise this event, which took place in Palic under the theme "Reforms and new challenges in insurance law".

Both the president of the association, Prof. Dr. Slobodan Jovanovic, and the honorary president, Prof. Dr. Jovan Slavnic, underlined in their welcome speeches the significance of the cooperation with the GDV and the IRZ, which harnesses extensive German experiences for the benefit of the participants.

The well-attended event included lectures on insurance contract law and insurance regulation from the following nine countries: Serbia, Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Malta, and Poland. The speakers came from a variety of insurance and consultancy firms, supervisory authorities and universities. This mix provided a wide-ranging and deep insight into the current situation concerning insurance law, as well as the insurance industry in general.

The IRZ and GDV were not only involved in organising the conference, they also enabled young lawyers working in the field of insurance law in other countries in the region to take part. The multinational composition of the conference also meant they had plenty of opportunities to make new contacts.

The presentations given at the event will also be published as part of the traditional series of publications issued by the Association for Insurance Law in a conference report and so they will be available to other interested parties.

The Association for Insurance Law of Serbia, which is also a member of AIDA (Association Internationale de Droit des Assurance/ International Association for Insurance Law), was set up in 1971, well before most other legal professional associations in the region, and was then known as the Yugoslavian Association for Insurance Law. Still today, its activities target insurance professionals from various countries in the region.

Conference on the legal past of Germany and Serbia meets with great media interest

On 15 April 2016, the IRZ together with the Serbian "Society for the Study and Reception of German Law" organised a conference in Belgrade on the reappraisal of the legal past throughout various authoritarian systems. This topic, about which many people have their reservations, is of great importance in Germany and in Serbia. The event should inspire discussions on the subject.

In his welcome address, German ambassador Axel Dittmann (video clip) talked about the importance of the subject and explained that the present and the future can only take shape if we address our past. Dittmann went on to say that, in Germany's experience, it is very difficult to agree on a shared future without addressing what has happened in the past.

The main German speaker at the conference was Dr. Oliver Vossius, President of the German Association of Notaries, who talked, amongst other things, about the involvement of people in his profession in Aryanization during the National Socialist era. He also explained that efforts to deal with the legal past in post-war Germany met with particular resistance with regard to the biographies of lawyers who had made their careers during the "Third Reich" and were still active after the war.

One of the main lectures from the Serbian side was given by Professor Jovica Trkulja, who also publishes the journal "Herecticus - Časopis za preispitivanje prošlosti" (Hereticus – magazine for re-examination of the past). Another lecture was presented by Professor Tibor Varady, previously of Novi Sad University and now lecturing at the European University in Budapest. The latter recently wrote a book published in Serbian and Hungarian on the abuse of the law in Vojvodina over a period of more than a hundred years, based on the well-maintained legal records kept by his father and grandfather.

Professor Trkulja took a critical overview of Serbian history over the past century. He drew the conclusion that this had been characterised throughout by authoritarian systems. Consequently, there is a strong need to explain the legal past. He divided recent Serbian history into four main phases:

  • 1944-1952: Fighting enemies of the people and of the state,
  • 1953-1968: Fighting enemies within,
  • 1969-1980: Fighting enemies of self-government,
  • since 1980: Continuation of authoritarian styles of rule during the Transformation.

Within the period that extends up to the present day, Professor Jovica Trkulja gave the period between 1990 and 2000, the Milosevic era, the term of "Tsardom by plebiscite". Trkulja pointed out the strategy of authoritarian regimes of constantly forming new groups of alleged enemies of the regime through "differentiation" in order to legitimise their own regimes.

Professor Varady used outwardly comparable cases from various years, in which members of other ethnic groups had fallen victim to the justice system, to demonstrate the general mechanisms and consistent methods used to abuse the law. It became clear that nations cannot in any way be named as victims or perpetrators, because the nationality of the perpetrators and victims changed constantly.

There were some intense and lively discussions after each of the lectures. One of the reasons for this was the fact that some of the lecturers and the participants were themselves subjected to reprisals and significant professional disadvantages during the Milosević era. Another participant in the talks was Professor Vladimir V. Vodinelic, author of the book "The Past as a Challenge to the Law – Serbian side of the legal coping with the past", which can be downloaded from the website of the Helsinki committee in Serbian: Download as a WinZip word document.

The significance of the topic was underlined by lively media interest. State television and major Serbian newspapers and Internet portals reported on the conference. Detailed regulations from German law, which only had an indirect connection to the actual topic of the event, also received a considerable amount of interest. In the Serbian legal examination system, until now there has only been a score of "passed" or "failed". In this context, the German system of differentiated scoring for legal exams and the introduction of a state note in the report in "Blic", one of the most widely read newspapers in the country, is considered to be a mechanism for preventing low-achieving candidates with good political connections from being chosen over those with better qualifications.