Chair of Civil Law, Comparative Law & Private International Law
Teaching and research activities at the Chair cover the fields of civil law, civil procedure and private international law.
In the area of civil law the research focus is on private European law and the progressive Europeanisation of private law, with particular consideration given to aspects of comparative law and possible approaches towards international harmonisation. Above all, the Chair actively supports developments towards a contract law as required in a modern service society. The service sector, which currently accounts for 70% of the gross domestic product of the European Union, is of vital importance to the German and European economy. Direct foreign investments flow first and foremost into the service sector which, as the European Commission has found, is the only market segment to generate “net” jobs. The Commission sees the greatest future growth potential for Europe amid global competition chiefly in the area of production-related services such as maintenance, other technical support services, training and financial services. For this reason the single market for services is considered the “powerhouse” of the European economy. Traditional contract law on the other hand is still strongly oriented towards the sale of goods model. Further developments are needed here at all levels of the contractual exchange of goods and services between market players. Teaching activities at the Chair are concerned with all aspects of civil property law.
Civil procedure law encompasses all the rulings for state and arbitrary court proceedings in civil matters. The main focus is on the particular aspects of commercial dispute resolution (“commercial litigation”). The foundation is provided by basic research in civil procedure, for instance in the areas of enforcement law, the law governing the right of appeal or arbitrary proceedings. Since large scale proceedings today frequently involve cross-border elements, the research focus is on international civil procedure law: In which country can proceedings be started, how can legal action be taken against a foreign party, in which countries can parties seek the recognition and enforcement of judgements and international arbitration awards, how can evidence be gathered in a foreign country, which procedural strategies are there available, which agreements, for instance court or arbitration agreements, can be recommended in advance, how can arbitration proceedings be conducted, and what are the possibilities for claim recovery abroad. Of particular relevance is the progressive Europeanisation of international civil procedure law. Today we are already speaking, quite rightly, of European civil procedure law. Teaching in this area is concerned with the fundamental elements of German and European civil procedure law and national and international arbitrary proceedings.
Lastly, private international law deals with the question of which law is applicable to a given situation involving a cross-border element. This is a key issue in a globalised economy, and more especially so for an export nation such as Germany with an export volume today of one trillion euros. How far does foreign antitrust law apply, how far domestic antitrust law, which law is applicable to the sale of goods and export finance, which law is applicable to cross-border payments, which law determines the applicable copyright law for the Internet, which law is applicable to the violation of personal rights in the global media, or which law applies to the international trade of works of art and cultural goods – these and other issues relating to international commercial law are at the focus of basic research in the field of private international law. Teaching is concerned with the core elements of private international law, which are essential today for legal professionals working in an international environment.