From 28 November to 6 December 2017, GIZ’s Sino-German Legal Cooperation Programme conducted and accompanied a fact-finding tour for a delegation from the Legislative Affairs Commission of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress of China on the subjects of family and adoption law. The delegation comprised six officials from the Commission’s Civil Law Department and was led by Mr Yang Minglun, Senior Counsel with the Legislative Affairs Commission. The visit took place against the backdrop of China’s plans to overhaul its family and adoption law by 2020. The delegation visited Munich, Berlin, Prague and Budapest.
The programme of visits began with a discussion with Professor Andreas Spickhoff from Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität (LMU Munich) on matrimonial law and rights and duties in marriage. The delegates then visited Munich Local Court, where they sat in on a divorce hearing conducted by judge Dr Jürgen Schmid. They subsequently had the opportunity to discuss their many questions about divorce law with Dr Schmid himself. This practical (and rare) insight into the conduct of divorce proceedings in Germany – which is very different from the Chinese approach – particularly impressed the delegates. This was followed by a discussion on maintenance obligations and practical aspects of adoption law with Ms Benesch and Mr Veitenhansl, both of whom are departmental heads and judges at Munich Local Court. The delegates then visited Munich Higher Regional Court, where they were welcomed by the Court’s Vice-President Dr Schmid-Stein. A meeting with two of the Court’s judges, Dr Boie and Dr Meyer, gave them an opportunity to discuss maintenance law and the law on parent and child matters as applied in the courts.
For the next part of the programme, the delegation travelled to Berlin, where they visited the German Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection (BMJV). Here, they were received by Dr Lindner and then had a meeting with Dr Meyer, Section Head, Family Law and Law of Succession, who gave them an overview of matrimonial property law. This was followed, in the afternoon, by a discussion on adoption law with Professor Nina Dethloff, Director of the Institute of German, European and International Family Law at the University of Bonn. The delegates were able to build on the knowledge acquired during this talk in their subsequent meeting with Ms Otto, Head of the Central Adoption Service for the states of Berlin and Brandenburg in Potsdam, and her colleague Ms Schwieger, who shared their experience of adoption practice. The German part of the programme concluded with a meeting with Ms Trierweiler, a practising lawyer and member of the management board of the German Federal Bar Association (BRAK), focusing on divorce and maintenance law from an attorney’s perspective.
The Prague element of the programme began with a visit to the Ministry of Justice of the Czech Republic. The delegates were given a high-level welcome by Ms Bellonova, Head of the Legislative Affairs Department, and Ms Fiserova, Head of the Department for International Civil Law. This was followed by a discussion on family law in the Czech Republic, with a particular focus on property and maintenance law, and on ways of dealing with bogus marriages. In addition to the persons already mentioned, other Justice Ministry employees – Ms Hlinkova, Ms Rittichova, Ms Zavadilova, Mr Navratil and Ms Kadlecova – took part in the discussion. The second meeting in the Czech Republic was held at Prague Regional Court, where delegates met the Court’s Vice-President Dr Svehlova and two judges, Dr Boudová-Zverinová and Ms Kamenicka. The delegates were thus able to discuss maintenance law in divorce and separation cases with experienced practitioners.
The final stop on the fact-finding tour was Budapest, where delegates visited the Curia, Hungary’s supreme judicial body. Here, they had the opportunity to meet with two judges Ms Köves-Kósa and Mr Körös, and gain an insight into Hungarian family law. The programme ended with a review of the outcomes of the meetings conducted during the tour.