Conference on “The role of judges and freedom of speech” in Belgrade

A conference on “The role of judges and freedom of speech” was held on 27 September 2016 in Belgrade. The conference was organised jointly by the Judges’ Association of Serbia, the German Association of Judges and the IRZ. The event enabled the exchange of experiences across national borders between judges from Montenegro, as well as from Germany and Serbia.

In his opening speech, German ambassador Axel Dittmann pointed out the importance of the justice system and of an independent judiciary for preparing Serbia’s entry to the EU.

The President of the Judges’ Association of Serbia, Dragana Boljevic, also spoke at the well-attended conference. Other speakers were Andrea Titz, a judge at the higher regional court of Munich, and Elisabeth Kreth, a judge at the finance court of Hamburg, both of whom are members of the German Association of Judges. During the intense discussions following the presentations, issues concerning the ability of judges to give their opinions in public were discussed, as well as the media coverage of how they perform their duties and of the justice system as a whole.

One of the participating judges said that Germany and Serbia are like living in “two different worlds” For example, Serbian judges are not allowed to belong to political parties. Others also reported critical and even slanderous media reports on judges, which went as far as accusations of the judges concerned being on defendants’ payrolls, which would be completely unthinkable in this form in Germany.

It is precisely these contrasting situations, however, that show that gearing legal regulations and even standard practices towards the German model could make perfect sense for Serbia and other states in the region in order to resolve existing irregularities.

Since journalists also took part in this event, it was an occasion for direct discussions to take place between representatives of the justice system and the media, which is otherwise rare in the region.

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.