British solicitors to settle Balkan blood feuds

HIGH STREET solicitors and English country judges used to dealing with squabbles over garden fences are to be sent to Kosovo to help settle far more bloody disputes between Serbs and Albanians.

The Council of Europe is to name 30 British lawyers it is recommending for judicial and advisory posts in Kosovo's justice system tomorrow. The lawyers, working with the United Nations, will defend and prosecute cases, as well as sit as judges in property and family disputes.

The list includes the names of three district judges and 27 High Street solicitors who are accustomed to more mundane matters, such as ruling and advising on garden hedge disputes and shoplifting. In their new roles, the British lawyers will come face-to-face with revenge killings and bitter property feuds which have torn Kosovo's ethnic communities apart.

But Humbert de Biolley, the man in charge of compiling the list of lawyers for the council, said the inclusion of the British lawyers would be vital in helping to prop up an ailing justice system. Since the end of the war the Kosovo civil and criminal justice systems had almost ground to a halt, with a backlog of hundreds of cases waiting to be heard, he said.

The legal settlement of disputes in Kosovo has been stymied by the accusation of bias on both sides. "If the judge is an Albanian then the Serb will make the accusation and if he is a Serb then it will come from the Albanian," Mr de Biolley said. The arrival of external judges would "help guarantee independence".

Far more lawyers from Britain were willing to go to Kosovo than from any other European country - of the 300 judicial volunteers from across Europe, 70 were from the UK. Many of the British applicants had to be rejected to ensure tomorrow's final list of 250 "reflected a proper European balance", said Mr de Biolley. Nevertheless, the British still form the largest contingent, followed by France. Appointments are for an initial six months, and most of the lawyers will be based in the capital, Pristina.

The British lawyers will also have to come to grips with the different legal system in Kosovo. The Yugoslav judicial process is based on the European inquisitorial system, where the judge attempts to establish the facts of the case by questioning each side's lawyers. The British judicial system determines criminal and civil disputes by lawyers putting forward the arguments leaving the judge or the jury to choose a winner.

Mr Biolley said that the difference between the two systems matters more in criminal cases, where examining magistrates conducted the hearings. But the British lawyers will be able to rely on their experience of case law and precedent, which was a common feature of both systems.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
musicBand's first new record for 20 years has some tough acts to follow
peopleAt least it's for a worthwhile cause
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Life and Style
healthFor Pure-O OCD sufferers this is a reality they live in
Life and Style
Sexual health charities have campaigned for the kits to be regulated
healthAmerican woman who did tells parents there is 'nothing to be afraid of'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Pharmaceutical Computer System Validation Specialist

£300 - £350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Pharmaceutical Computer ...

Senior Java Developer - API's / Webservices - XML, XSLT

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is currently ...

Newly Qualified Teachers

£90 - £115 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: We are currently looking fo...

Year 3/4 Teacher

£120 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Job Share Year 3/4 Teacher...

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments