Bianca Mueller and Elke Buedenbender

German lawyers meet Elke Buedenbender in New Zealand

German lawyers meet Elke Buedenbender in New Zealand

The German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier visited New Zealand from 5 – 7 November 2017. He was accompanied by his wife, Elke Buedenbender and a 60-member delegation.

The visit was a harbinger of the soon-to-be-started negotiation on a free trade agreement between Europe and New Zealand. Frank-Walter Steinmeier said at a meeting with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern that Germany has, as a strong export nation, “the greatest interest” in a free trade agreement with New Zealand.

Surprisingly, the high ranking visit from Germany found very little interest in the New Zealand media.

Bianca Mueller and Elke Buedenbender

High ranking visitor from Germany. Ms Büdenbender met with German lawyers in Wellington on 6 November 2017.

The German lawyers Bianca Mueller (LawDownUnder), Julika Wahlmann-Smith (Hesketh Henry), Dr. Ursula Kerpen (Ministry of Justice) and Vanessa Koenning (Department of Corrections) met with judge Buedenbender for a round table discussion.

The discussion with judge Buedenbender was a great success. With humour and openness, the jurists talked about the main differences between civil law and common law jurisdictions.

As a very experienced administrative judge, Ms. Büdenbender was particularly interested in litigation and legal proceedings in New Zealand. In fact, these differ significantly from the German legal system. For example, court proceedings in New Zealand are expensive and inefficient. Also, New Zealand does not have an administrative court. Neither is there a constitutional court.

At the same time, the courts have no power to intervene in the parliamentary sovereignty of Parliament. This means that unconstitutional laws or laws that breach the Bill of Rights remain in force until the legislature revokes them.

Central topics of discussion were the New Zealand government machinery, the Treaty of Waitangi, New Zealand’s unwritten constitution, and the main differences between civil law and common law.

The legal professionals also discussed current affairs such as the handling of prisoners, refugees, and integration in New Zealand were discussed.

It has been more than 16 years since the last German Presient visited New Zealand. The most recent visit was in 2001 by Johannes Rau.

However, former Bundestag President Lammert visited New Zealand in 2016 and the German Chancellor visited New Zealand in 2014.

There is a clear interest in expanding bilateral relations between Germany and New Zealand.