Max Planck Institute for Comparative and International Private Law

Max Planck Institute for Comparative and International Private Law

Different countries, different cultures – and usually also a different basis for legal systems. The development of the European single market, the global integration of multinational business and commercial companies as well as the increasing internationalisation of our daily lives require that areas of private and commercial law provide solutions that cannot only be derived from the legal systems of individual countries. Academics at the Max Planck Institute for Comparative and International Private Law in Hamburg apply analysis of the differences and similarities between different legal systems to develop a foundation for an international understanding of law and its application to cross-border circumstances. This also includes addressing the methodological issues of comparative law and unification of law. The central research tool of the Institute is its library, which contains one of the world’s most extensive collections of literature on civil law.


Mittelweg 187
20148 Hamburg
Phone: +49 40 41900-0
Fax: +49 40 41900-288

PhD opportunities

This institute has no International Max Planck Research School (IMPRS).

There is always the possibility to do a PhD. Please contact the directors or research group leaders at the Institute. Please send your application to

Department / Main Fields of Research: German, European and International Company Law and Securities Regulation, Commercial Law including Accounting Law, Economic Analysis of the Law and Comparative Law more
Department / Main Fields of Research: Law of obligations and law of succession in historical and comparative perspective; mixed legal systems; harmonization of European private law more
Brexit has far-reaching ramifications in private law
Brexit is a done deal. Prime Minister Theresa May now faces the gargantuan task of negotiating the UK’s exit from the European Union. Disentangling the finely woven network of EU directives and regulations and national and EU law is certainly no mean feat. more
The TTIP Agreement is highly controversial in the public opinion in Europe and especially in Germany. First and foremost the opponents criticize the intended arbitration process for investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS). By the supporters it is considered as a general practice. more
Investment arbitration in the light of TTIP – a sensible instrument?
An opinion article from Jürgen Basedow more
Europe’s courts under reform pressure
The European Court of Justice is facing tremendous challenges. A study by the Hamburg-based Max Planck Institute for Private Law outlines the reasons why, and sets out solution proposals. more
Legal study offers first comprehensive overview of liability issues in connection with the Fukushima nuclear accident more
Dynamic family law reform, recognition of adoption and consideration of a child’s best interests: Nadjma Yassari from the Max Planck Institute for Comparative and International Private Law in Hamburg and her “Changes in God’s Law – An Inner-Islamic Comparison of Family and Succession Law” research group illustrate how complex and mutable law in Muslim countries is.
The Japanese are far less likely to settle their disputes in a court of law than Europeans or Americans. Is this a product of their mentality? Do they know of better ways of resolving conflict? Or are they lacking in legal alternatives? These are some of the questions being explored by Harald Baum and his colleagues in the Japan Unit at the Max Planck Institute for Comparative and International Private Law in Hamburg.
No job offers available
Private law relations in cross-border contexts have traditionally been governed by private international law. Yet rules vary from country to country, and developments in the field have not kept pace with globalisation. Consequently, in resolving cross-border dispute, courts have been turning to human rights law. more

The family constitution: A toothless contract?

2017 Fleischer, Holger
Disputes arising among family members will not infrequently threaten the break-up of an entire – multi-generational – family business. Against this background, family constitutions find increased popularity. These documents allow family businesses to set out their shared values and to formulate approaches for dealing with potential conflicts. Until now however, family charters have been considered primarily through a business lens and have not been attributed any legal relevance. The present article sees jurist Holger Fleischer challenge this view. more

International surrogate motherhood: The child in a legal no man’s land

2016 Duden, Konrad; Basedow, Jürgen

International surrogate motherhood tests the limits of what a national law can do. Surrogacy is forbidden in Germany. Thus, many Germans commission surrogates abroad. Are they later the legal parents of the children? The children’s rights demand the recognition of their social family with the intended parents – which comes at the cost of effective enforcement of the prohibition of surrogacy. One might regret this circumstance. Accepting it, however, opens up a discussion that could lead to a better protection of the parties involved than merely insisting on the prohibition of surrogacy.

The dower (mahr) is a key figure of Islamic marriage law. The work of Nadjma Yassari shows how the dower remains an important tool to fill existing financial gaps. Notwithstanding the continuous reforms of the regulations related to the financial relations between spouses, postmarital solidarity is still weak and there are hardly any social welfare transfers. Emphasizing the function and purpose of the mahr, the book also addresses the incorporation of the dower into private international law and German family law. more
The law of succession is subject to the influences of social change and the increasing internationalisation of living circumstances. Accordingly, a comparative examination of fundamental questions is needed. To what extent can a succession law regime tolerate assets being tied up across generations by means of foundations or trusts? How is the freedom of testation to be reconciled with the requirement of familial solidarity? Additionally, a new EU Regulation that will bring numerous changes to cross-border succession cases has to be considered. more
Go to Editor View