The effects of the Covid 19 crisis can be felt in all areas of life. In the sector of legally oriented conferences, these have thinned out considerably in view of the pandemic. Despite this fact and in order to set an example, the ECBA decided to have the autumn conference in Rome after the spring conference was cancelled.

And so the conference began on the evening of September 11th, 2020 in the historic ambience of Chiostro del Bramante with a reception, where Vincent Asselineau (Chair of the ECBA), Giandomenico Caiazza (Italian Defense Attorneys Association) and Antonino Galletti (President of the Roman Bar Association) made welcoming speeches.

After several opening addresses, Saturday, September 12th, 2020 was dedicated to honouring the recently deceased long time board member of the ECBA Scott Crosby for his tireless fight for the observance of human rights in Europe, not least of all he acted as the Human Rights Officer of the ECBA as a trial observer in numerous countries.

This was followed in the morning by a panel on the European Public Prosecutor's Office, which must be called the topic of the hour in European criminal law. Fabio Giuffrida (European Commission) introduced the topic and explained the structure of this newly created law enforcement agency as well as the existing legal protection instruments (Art 42 of the EPPO regulation). Ondrej Laciak (ECBA / CCBE) then went into detail on the rights of the accused (Art 42 of the EPPO Regulation) and the problems in defending such cases (such as access to the file). Lorenzo Salazar (Deputy Attorney General at the Naples Court of Appeal) was the next speaker to be involved in the development of the European Public Prosecutor for years and presented the political background and legislative development of the EPPO regulation and what practical problems it may pose in the future. Ultimately, this panel ended with the presentation by Andrea Venegoni (Court of Cassation, Rome), who was involved in the legislative process as a member of the EU Commission and OLAF at the time and who gave an overview of the offenses that are subject to prosecution by the European Public Prosecutor's Office.

This panel was followed by one on the use of video links in criminal proceedings, moderated by Amedeo Barletta (ECBA), who also introduced the topic. Vânia Costa Ramos (Vice-Chair of the ECBA) then explained the ECBA's position paper. This was followed by a lecture by Juan Palomino Segura, who addressed practical problems, but also some advantages of such methods. The innovatively designed lecture by Nicola Canestrini moved in the same direction. Ultimately, Constance Ascione le Dréau criticized the use of such technologies in the preliminary proceedings.

Alex Tinsley then gave a very interesting overview of the legal consequences of Brexit and explained the historical development of the UK's exit negotiations. Of course, the questions of extradition to and from the UK remained unanswered at the current time.

Ultimately, separate working groups were formed in the afternoon on the topics of ne bis in idem and judicial cooperation in criminal matters, criminal justice and the Covid-19 pandemic and the role of the ECBA in a network of defence lawyer organisations in Europe.

The event ended in a cosy atmosphere with a festive dinner.

The next ECBA Spring Conference 2021 will then take place in Riga.


Report by Roland Kier