The Serbian Constitutional Court celebrates its 50th anniversary

Dr. Dragisa Slijepcevic, President of the Constitutional Court

Dr. Dragisa Slijepcevic, President of the Constitutional Court

On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Serbian Constitutional Court, an international conference with high-ranking participants took place in Belgrade from 16 to 18 October 2013 entitled "Position and Perspectives of the Constitutional Jurisdiction". It was organised by the court in cooperation with the Council of Europe, the OSCE as well as the IRZ, which has been cooperating very successfully with the Serbian Constitutional Court for many years and has made a substantial contribution to the introduction of the constitutional complaint into the Serbian law.

The conference was opened by Dr. Dragisa Sljiepcevic, President of the Constitutional Court, followed by the President of the Republic of Serbia, Tomislav Nikolic. Further welcome addresses were given by the President of the Venice Commission, Gianni Buquicchio, the Vice President of the Austrian Constitutional Court, Brigitte Bierlein, the OSCE Ambassador Peter Burckhard, as well as the Head of the EU delegation in Serbia, Michael Davenport, who gave his speech in Serbian, just like the IRZ head of section in charge, Dr. Stefan Pürner did.

In the course of the conference, contributions by the presidents and judges of the constitutional courts of twelve states and a lecture by the Serbian judge at the ECHR, Prof. Dr. Dragoljub Popovic, highlighted the present situation of the constitutional courts and their future challenges.

There were several common themes in the presentations and discussions:

  • On the one hand, it was pointed out that the constitutional courts of the states of the former Yugoslavia are among the oldest ones in the world. This is all the more remarkable as in times of socialism judicial control of the state's activities was rather difficult to justify in dogmatic terms. The Judge at the Constitutional Court of the Czech Republic, Prof. Dr. Jan Filip, reported in this context, that the Yugoslav experience also had a key influence on the beginning of the constitutional jurisdiction in the former Czechoslovakia.
  • The tasks of the constitutional courts, however, have expanded considerably since the end of socialism. The newly adopted constitutions need a functioning constitutional jurisdiction in order to be effective. Such a functioning constitutional jurisdiction, however, also gives rise to tensions with the political stakeholders. According to President Sljiepcevic , however, they were to be tolerated, since it was not the task of the constitutional courts to fulfil the expectations of politicians – be it the expectations of the government or of the opposition.
  • The President of the Croatian Constitutional Court, Prof. Dr. Jasna Omejec, pointed out that, taking into account the "Europeanization of legal awareness", a close cooperation between the different national constitutional courts as well as with the ECHR was necessary. This required a dialogue which should also lead to a mutual approximation of case law.
  • The pioneering role of the German constitutional law and the German Constitutional Court became evident in many presentations. This ranges from the catalogue of fundamental rights of the German Basic Law up to the individual decisions of the Federal Constitutional Court.

The conference volume "The Role and Importance of the Constitutional Court for the Protection of the Rule of Law" was also presented at the conference. The volume was drafted as a follow-up to a conference which had been organised by the Serbian Constitutional Court in June 2013 in cooperation with the Serbian Association for Constitutional Law and the IRZ.

Legal Cooperation between Germany and Serbia: Avoidance of Pathological Clauses in Arbitration Agreements

Intense discussions and a lively exchange of experience took place during the seminar "The Drafting of Arbitration Agreements - Opportunities, Consequences and Sources of Error in Practice" on 23 September 2013 in Belgrade. The event was organised by the IRZ in cooperation with the German-Serbian Business Association and the German Institution for Arbitration (DIS).

Presentations were given by Prof. Dr. Vladimir Pavic from the Belgrade Faculty of Law and Prof. Dr. Tibor Varady from the Central European University of Budapest. The latter is the author of various publications, amongst them "Language and Translation in Commercial Arbitration" and the co-author of "International Commercial Arbitration: A Transnational Perspective". Furthermore, the Secretary General of the DIS, the lawyer Jens Bredow, took the time to give a presentation at the event.

Due to the vast experience of the speakers and the fortuitous composition of the participants, consisting of lawyers and corporate counsels, many practice-oriented issues could be discussed in detail, ranging from case groups on pathological clauses, advice on how to avoid them and on the financial consequences of different draft contracts.

These expert presentations and discussions continued a series of events kicked off in 2012. As in 2012, there was agreement during the meetings that many issues should be discussed further. Important topics have already been defined for the future. Legal cooperation between Germany and Serbia: Avoidance of Pathological Clauses in Arbitration Agreements.