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I recently attended a useful workshop in Vilnius, Lithuania, run by the Academy of European Law (AEL). The AEL promotes the understanding of EU law and networking for family law practitioners. The workshop was hard work but very rewarding.
The conference language was English, but the attendees came from several countries and included an Irish solicitor and professor, a German judge, an Italian professor, and two English solicitors, together with several academics and practitioners from Vilnius itself.
The workshop format worked very well. After a lecture on an individual topic, the participants broke up into smaller groups to work through a case study. We began with a look at legal aid—in the EU it is mandatory for a country to have legal aid available, unless its laws and processes are adapted to be easily used—some of the attendees shook their heads at this point. We also looked at how to refer a question to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) for a preliminary ruling. One problem is that the ECJ only allows for 20 minutes of advocacy, if an oral hearing is allowed at all, so the question to be submitted must be drafted clearly (as must the answer you want which must be submitted as well) but not so clearly that the court will decide without further submissions.
As a case study we looked at the movements of a couple who married near Lake Constance. As you may know, that lake is at the intersection of three national boundaries (Austria, Germany and Switzerland). Austria and Germany are both in the EU, but Switzerland is not. With various permutations (the parties being habitua
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