Bucharest, the little Paris of the East, was the spectacular location of the ECBA Spring Conference, 24–25 April 2015.

The topic of this Conference, in line with the new developments, covered the introduction of the New Romanian Law in criminal proceedings as an exemplary implementation of the EU legislation. The topic also included the new “hot” issue of European criminal justice:  Corporate Liability in Criminal law.

On Friday 24 April, at the Cocktail Reception, Holger Matt, ECBA Chair, addressed warm welcoming words to the numerous lawyers, judges and academics from all over Europe attending the conference.

The next day the Conference was opened by the tireless Holger Matt.  Amongst other things, in accordance with the ECBA’s objective to protect defence rights across the continent, he introduced the ambitious “National Delegates Project”.  Through appointed delegates in each Member State, the ECBA would observe the implementation of European criminal legislation on a domestic level, with the aim to intervene for the benefit of justice. He also announced the new open-door policy for collective membership, which will, with the current ECBA projects and working groups, boost the organization's readiness to work more efficiently.

Oana Antonescu, former Member of the European Parliament, focused on the European legislation on procedural safeguards. She highlighted the necessity and urgency for the EU to take on the debate on fundamental rights, especially the rights of defence.

Mihai Mares, a brilliant Romanian lawyer, explained the main difficulties arising from the New Romanian Procedure Code when implemented.

The introduction of the new Criminal Code in Romania was the topic of the morning panel, comprised of distinguished figures: Oana Antonescu, Mihai Mares, Diana-Olivia Hatneanu, Human Rights Lawyer, Alexandra Carmen Lancrajan, Prosecutor and Modoran Laurentiu Florin, Judge.

Following ECBA projects and working groups, which undoubtedly set the tone of the action, were presented:

Presumption of Innocence, Rebecca Niblock;  Legal Aid, Johanna Engström, EU Commission; European Public Prosecutor's Office (EPPO), Holger Matt and  Handbook EAW, Vania Costa Ramos

Ondej Laciak, the rising Slovakian academic and lawyer, is responsible for the ECBA transition to the Social Media era. In his contribution he convinced everyone to follow the ECBA on LinkedIn and Twitter, so as to keep updated with our activities and news.

Scott Crosby, Human Rights Officer, described his continued involvement in the follow up of the Bar Association Trial of Istanbul. He also told of the support for Nicola Canestrini, who suffered unacceptable harassment during the functioning of his defence duties.

The afternoon panel chaired by the emblematic figure of Scott Crosby focused on the extremely important issue of Corporate Criminal Liability.

Distinguished Expert Criminal Lawyers contributed to a heated debate among the audience: Bogdan Bibicu, Romania; Marius Dietrichson, Norway; Kevin Roberts, United Kingdom; Oliver Kipper, Germany; Vladimir Hrle, Serbia, and Dian Brouwer, The Netherlands.

And I saved the best till last: the National Reports, chaired by the energetic Dominika Stepinska-Duch.

Ben Keith, a real expert on the subject, gave his views on the EAW and changes in UK Law.

James McGuill captured the audience by analysing the recent Irish Supreme Court Decision that changed the current status quo.

Mikolaj Piertrzak meticulously described the recent Amendment to the Polish Criminal Code and Procedure Law, as well as the implementation of the EU Directive on the right to access to lawyer.

Rainer Spatscheck highlighted in a fascinating presentation the recent important developments in Germany.

The Conference concluded with the General Assembly in which an election was held for the ECBA Executive Committee and Advisory Board.  I am firmly convinced that the newly elected Board together with the ECBA members and friends will keep up the high standards and the good work that has made the ECBA the pre-eminent defence rights organization in Europe.


Report by Alexis Anagnostakis