Block seminar on “German legal terminology: Challenges, chances, opportunities” with the Faculty of Law in Novi Sad

During the seminar
During the seminar

From 16 to 18 July 2021, IRZ organised a block seminar on German legal terminology with the Faculty of Law in Novi Sad, Serbia. The online event, which was attended by around twenty people, was aimed at German-speaking students and alumni of the faculty, as well as at other German-speaking lawyers from the region.

The objective of the seminar was to encourage potential opinion formers in terms of German legal terminology, since this occupies a special position in the continental European legal sphere. Due to the distinctive systems and terminology, knowledge in this regard opens up important additional sources of information for the participants' work. The lecturer Dr. Marko Knežević illustrated this with the statement that civil proceedings law in Serbia cannot be understood without German technical and language knowledge, as this is strongly oriented towards German and Austrian law in Serbia.

The event was opened by:

  • Prof. Dr. Bojan Tubić, Vice Dean for International Relations at the University of Novi Sad and Deputy Minister for Higher Education at the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development of the Republic of Serbia, and
  • Lawyer Dr. Stefan Pürner, head of the “South Eastern Europe I” section at IRZ.
  • As a representative of the German Embassy in Belgrade, Daniel Mohseni particularly emphasised in his welcoming address that the German Foreign Office has been sponsoring a legal terminology course at the Faculty of Law in Belgrade for many years and that its positive results had prompted the faculty in Novi Sad to ask IRZ for cooperation in this field.
  • Prof. Dr. Dr. h. c. Detlev W. Belling from the Faculty of Law in Potsdam welcomed the participants. His faculty offers a German-language LL.M. programme together with the University of Novi Sad and the University of Szeged in Hungary.

The participants showed a great deal of interest and special competence in the German language. This made the seminar highly interactive and practical. As head of the legal terminology course at the Faculty of Law in Belgrade and author of the only textbook of German legal terminology in Serbia, Danka Stojaković gave a practical insight into the challenges and subtleties of German legal language. The conclusion of their practical exercises was: “English is a must, German is a plus.”

With their testimonials, several alumni of the legal terminology course in Belgrade and a former trainee lawyer illustrated the various possibilities for using the German language in the legal field. In the meantime, the alumni are completing a Master's or doctoral programme on German law.

In order to create a pleasant and relaxed working atmosphere despite the online format, an informal online dinner was included in the programme, which was very positively received by the participants and provided an opportunity for personal exchange. A legal quiz provided variety and humorous technical discussions.

The case method as a contribution to practice-oriented legal training

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.

Practical seminar on the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on arbitration

Graphics: IRZ
Graphics: IRZ

On 3 December 2020, another practical seminar was held on the subject of arbitration, organised jointly by the German-Serbian Chamber of Commerce (AHK), the German Institute of Arbitration (DIS) and IRZ. The event focussed on the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on arbitration proceedings and arbitration law. Since the practical seminar was held online, the audience was larger than in previous years. The participating lawyers and corporate lawyers joined the seminar from Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Germany.

Once the event had been opened by the joint organisers, the Head of Economic Affairs at the German Embassy, Anne-Kristin Piplica, welcomed the participants. The subjects covered by the practical seminar were presented in four blocks in an interview format, moderated by IRZ Head of Section, Dr. Stefan Pürner. The experts representing IRZ were:

  • Prof. Dr. Milena Djordjević, LL.M. (Pittsburgh), Law Faculty of the University of Belgrade and a board member of the Serbian Arbitration Association
  • Victor von Essen, M. Jur. (Oxford), a lawyer and Deputy Secretary General and Head of Case Management at DIS

One of the things that became clear was that the two arbitration institutions based in Belgrade and the DIS arbitration proceedings provide extremely good value for money. They offer the same level of quality but are less expensive than other internationally far more famous institutions. Both speakers also confirmed that the flexibility of arbitration proceedings is a considerable advantage, particularly at present. Any disruption to contractual relationships caused by the COVID-19 pandemic can be dealt with quickly by arbitration proceedings, with the result that the number of these is increasing at present.

The speakers also emphasised the fact that the proactive role of arbitrators in DIS proceedings offers a considerable advantage compared with arbitration proceedings based on the legal interpretation of common law.