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Law and Justice: Prerequisites for Trust in Law

The discussion was moderated by Aleksandr Konovalov, Minister of Justice of the Russian Federation. Participants of the discussion include Ales Gerloch, Vice-Rector for Academic Appointments at the Charles University in Prague, Enrico Del Prato, Dean of the Law Department and Professor of Civil Law at the la Sapienza University of Rome, Vladimir Legoyda, Head of Russian Orthodox Church Holy Synod Department for Churchs Society and Mass Media Relations, Vinodh Jaichand, Dean of the School of Law at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg.

“It's not a secret that the topic of trust in law is closely connected with the notion of its justice and universal nature of basic legal norms - principles of law. These principles reflect key values and ethical maxims that underlie legal systems,” Alexander Konovalov said, kicking off the discussion. He noted that the purpose of the round table is to continue with the talk about correlation between law and justice, which is so vital for the civilization, about moral dimension of legal culture and possibility to forge trust in law in national and supranational perspectives.

Enrico Del Prato told about the principle of subsidiarity that has been in force in Italy since 2001. “Public authorities should intervene in social issues only where there are some gaps and problems that can not be solved at the local level, when citizens get no support at lower levels. Any public act of the state should be carried out at the relevant level. Subsidiarity is a part of law. This is how the law works in relation to civil society,” Dean of the Law Department and Professor of Civil Law at the la Sapienza University of Rome stressed.

Vladimir Legoyda elaborated on the topic of trust in law. “Trust in law is to the great extent a legacy that was left in the culture from its religious past. That is why in traditional communities the violation of law hits the very basics of existence. Trust in law is a tool that is God sanctioned. Thus the law helps to achieve goals that are vital for the society,” the expert stressed. Also the Head of Russian Orthodox Church Holy Synod Department for Churchs Society and Mass Media Relations told that correlation between law and morality is a prerequisite for society's sustainable development. “If law starts to regulate relations that are traditionally unethical, the trust in law suffers. Inclusion of a vice in the legal field does not make it legitimate. But we are observing some attempts to do so in a number of states,” Vladimir Legoyda noted.

Ales Gerloch told about current status of the rule of law in the Czech Republic. “Our biggest problems are overregulation, that is excessive number of law-making acts, instability of laws and other norms, as well as controversies that result from broad law-making and volatility of the rule of law,” Vice-Rector for Academic Appointments at the Charles University said.

Vinodh Jaichand highlighted the issue of international law enforcement across different countries. “International system of human rights have been setting certain standards for a number of years. But enforcement of these obligations requires resources from countries. The system of human rights protection should primarily protect the right for life, but this duty gets dissolved. Those who need protection don't get it,” Dean of the School of Law at the University of the Witwatersrand explained.

He also noted that states must be forced into fulfilling their obligation to protect human rights. “Human rights must be protected, also through compulsion of countries that breach them to do so,” the expert stressed.

Summarizing the outcomes of the round table Alexander Konovalov noted that law is a technical form of justice. “Law is a pragmatic dimension of a very long scale, where different notions of justice may take place. Law is a fruit of compromise, social consensus, a behavior pattern that everyone can follow. Society has the right to condemn a person for disrespect towards these rules. In such environment these are the courts that have a priority to decide what is justified and what is not,” the Minister of Justice concluded.