A global society is not unique to our times; ancient civilizations also reached far beyond national borders. Today, however, these processes have accelerated. Globalization1 has led not only to economic, political and societal transformation but also to legal transformation, primarily with regard to such regulated areas as communication, transnational trade, immigration and foreign investment2.
A growing number of legal questions, in the twenty-first century, transcend national borders. They affect all areas of law, including sales contracts between two parties in different countries (private law), regulation of environmentally harmful emissions across borders (public law) and fighting organized crime on a global basis (criminal law). For example, does German criminal law apply to a German company that bribes an official outside of Germany? In a global world, such challenges involve everything from climate protection to intellectual property and security in the face of terrorism3.
An important task of the law in a global world is to guarantee that certain rights and control mechanisms are transnational and implementable. Today, cultural and economic interactions, which increasingly cross territorial borders, are gradually challenging the legal authority of national governments and their regulations. Attempts to enforce laws outside of the home territory have historically been unsuccessful and are often of doubtful legality. An example is the pressure exerted by the US government on the Swiss Bank UBS to release banking data. Although UBS gave in to these demands, the competent Swiss court later declared the action illegal.