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On the panel: Dragana Radisavljevic, IRZ; Prof. Dr. Tibor Varady; lawyer Ruth Mosch; Gabriele Bennemann, Head of Economic Affairs at the German Embassy in Serbia (left to right)
An attentive audience at the presentations
In many of its partner countries, the IRZ handles the alternative resolution of disputes. In this respect, for many years now it has been organising regular events on arbitration, along with the German Chamber of Commerce in Serbia (AHK), the German-Serbian trade association and the German Institute of Arbitration (DIS).
This year's conference on "Procedures for resolving construction disputes" was held on Thursday 19 November in Belgrade, against the background of a wide variety of building projects that are currently in the planning stage in the Serbian capital.
The event was met with great interest by participants from the legal profession and business. The importance of this topic, particularly with respect to the current situation in Serbia, was emphasised by the Head of Economic Affairs at the German Embassy, Gabriele Bennemann, in her welcoming speech to mark the start of the conference.
Prof. Dr. Tibor Varady, a world-renowned expert on arbitration, and Ruth Mosch, a lawyer who used to work for the DIS, then presented the particularities involved in resolving construction disputes in arbitration proceedings. The speakers underlined, amongst other things, the importance of upstream mechanisms for de-escalating construction disputes due to the necessity for further cooperation between partners.
Dr. Dieter Hömig, formerly of the German Federal Constitutional Court
Vesna Ilić Prelić, President of the Constitutional Court of Serbia, and Vesna Dabic (left), Press Spokeswoman for the Constitutional Court of Serbia
Dr. Wolfgang Janisch, Süddeutsche Zeitung, Deputy Chairman of the Judicial Press Conference of Karlsruhe, and Nina Salomon (right), Press Officer for the European Court of Human Rights
Participants in the conference
A regional conference on "Constitutional Jurisdiction and the Media" organised jointly by the IRZ and the Constitutional Court of Serbia took place in Kladovo, eastern Serbia, on 4 and 5 September. Representatives of the Constitutional Courts of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Montenegro also attended the conference.
The conference was a continuation of the long-lasting and successful cooperation between the IRZ and the Constitutional Court of Serbia. The cooperation has involved, amongst other things, advice and support from the IRZ for the introduction of constitutional complaints to Serbian law.
The aim of the conference was to hold direct discussions between constitutional courts and media representatives, as the President of the host court, Vesna Ilić Prelić, pointed out in her welcome address. This was also reflected in the people attending the conference. As well as representatives from the various constitutional courts, Serbian participants in the closed conference included journalists Aleksandra Petrović ("Politika" daily newspaper) and Vojislava Crnjanski Spasojević ("Večernje novosti" daily newspaper) and Ljubiša Obradović, editor-in-chief of the online edition of the state broadcasting company, RTV Serbia. The journalists, all of whom had a legal background, talked with representatives of the various constitutional courts, who primarily covered the relationship between constitutional jurisdiction and the media in their respective countries. The following presented national reports from their own constitutional courts:
Vesna Ilić Prelić, President of the Constitutional Court of Serbia
Zlatko M. Knežević, Vice-President of the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina
Dr. Katja Senjak, Constitutional Judge, Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina
Dr. Duška Šarin, Constitutional Judge, Croatia
Dr. Teodor Antic, Secretary General of the Constitutional Court of Croatia
Milorad Gogic, Constitutional Judge, Montenegro
Representing the German side were Dr. Dieter Hömig, a former judge at the German Federal Constitutional Court and the Karlsruhe correspondent for the Süddeutsche Zeitung, Dr. Wolfgang Jasnisch. In addition, Nina Salomon, who works in the press office at the European Court of Human rights, presented the public relations work that takes place at the court in Strasbourg.
The multidisciplinary composition of the conference led to some interesting discussions, during which media representatives and constitutional judges were able to gain deeper insights into the nature of each other's work and develop an understanding of the other point of view.
There were, however, differences of opinion even within the same professional groups. These concerned, for example, the question as to how much criticism, particularly unjustified criticism, of the constitutional courts by the press should be acceptable.
During the discussions it became clear that, in certain respects, the situation in Southeast Europe differs considerably from that in Germany. In Southeast European countries, it is the exception rather than the rule for journalists reporting on the activities of constitutional courts to have formal legal training. This trend will probably intensify as a result of the increasingly strong competition between the media in Southeast Europe. In addition, the scope of the media criticising the constitutional courts - sometimes unjustly and harshly - is wider in the Southeast European countries attending the conference than is the case in Germany, for example. On the other hand, the attendance of journalists with a legal background at the conference proves that there are also media representatives in Southeast Europe who are interested in having an objective dialogue with the constitutional courts in their countries.
The event made it clear that talks between the two professional groups are necessary and promising. All the more so because the objective and critical observation of the administration of justice is just as important for its own future as it is for the perception of the case law by the citizens.
Visit of the guests at the German Association of Judges: Snezana Andrejevic, Vice-President of the Supreme Court of Serbia (3rd from right) and Dragana Boljevic, Chairwoman of the Serbian Association of Judges (far right)
The IRZ has very good networks with its domestic project partners as well as with foreign and international organisations in South East Europe operating in the field of law thanks to its long-term work in this region. This regularly gives rise to synergy effects, of which we like to make use. A good example is the working visit of judges from the Supreme Court of Serbia which dealt with the standardisation of case law and post-university legal training. This visit was organised by the OSCE Mission in Serbia and the IRZ and took place in Berlin from 26 to 29 April 2015.
The comprehensive programme started at the Federal Ministry of Justice with an introduction to the various legal regulations and practical exercises on the standardisation of case law. Furthermore, there was a presentation regarding the distribution of competences for legal training in the German federal system and the Ausbildung zum Einheitsjuristen (same training for all legal professions), followed by expert talks at the German Association of Judges and an all-day visit to the Higher Regional Court of Berlin with several items on the agenda. The delegation, among them the Vice-President of the Supreme Court of Serbia, Ms Snezana Andrejevic, and the President of the Serbian Association of Judges, Ms Dragana Boljevic, were received by the President of the Higher Regional Court of Berlin, Ms Monika Nöhre.
The Serbian guests returned with a wealth of inspiration and useful information, such as the upcoming nationwide introduction of the electronic justice system in Serbia. Due to the fact that this process will need a couple of years of preparation, also in Germany, which has much better resources, it became clear that certain timeframes need to be questioned as regards the current reforms in Serbia. This also applies to the introduction of a new law. The introduction of the special law in Germany as a consequence of reunification, for example, took quite a while until controversial issues were settled by case law in a uniform way. This is why the corresponding steps will certainly take some time in Serbia as well.