On 20 June, Vivien Whyte attended the opening ceremony of the Congress of the Austrian Member Organisation GÖD in Graz.
The ceremony was held in the presence of the Secretary General of the Federal Ministry of Constitutional Affairs, Reform, Deregulation and Justice, the Presidents from the four Austrian courts of appeal and representatives from federal, regional and local authorities. Austria has 700 Rechtspfleger and about 500 of them were present at the Congress.
President Whyte was very pleased to meet with so many colleagues. He reminded the audience that the Austrian Rechtspfleger participated to the creation of the European Union of Rechtspfleger in 1967 and, more than fifty years later, are still one of its driving forces.
The Austrian Rechtspfleger have contributed to the Rechtspfleger for Europe model that the EUR is promoting. They have become an irreplaceable piece of the Austrian judicial system and should be recognized as such.
As part of the opening session, MMag. Monika Stempkowski from the University of Vienna also gave a very interesting presentation on « error and lie – stumbling blocks on the way to truthfulness ».
Vivien Whyte wishes to thank the GÖD for their warm welcome and generous hospitality.
On 6 June 2017, Vivien Whyte, accompanied by Gerhard Scheucher, Vice-President, and Walter Szöky, officially presented the White Paper for a Rechtspfleger/Greffier for Europe to Dr. Wolfgang Brandstetter, Vice-Chancellor and Minister of Justice of the Republic of Austria.
Vivien Whyte presented the context and the content of the White Paper, emphasizing the model represented by the Austrian Rechtspfleger for other European professions. He emphasized the key role of Rechtspfleger in the Austrian judicial system, which is regularly cited by the European authorities as the most effective in Europe and the advantage that other countries would have in adopting a similar model. Vivien Whyte finally recalled the need to act at the level of the European Union and the Council of Europe to promote an independent profession, highly qualified and with jurisdictional competences alongside judges and prosecutors.
Dr. Brandstetter was very interested in the White Paper, which he said he wanted to draw on in his work. He agreed on the importance of Rechtspfleger, without whom the Austrian judicial system could not function. Finally, he was sensitive to the EUR’s arguments on the place of Rechtspfleger, which should not be seen as competition by judges and prosecutors, but as an asset allowing them in particular to refocus on their mission in most complex contentious cases.