Institute director Reinhard Zimmermann lauded at symposium honouring transition to emeritus status

Former students of Reinhard Zimmermann, his colleagues at the Max Planck Institute for Comparative and International Private Law, and others who accompanied him on his journey at one time or another came together on 14 October 2022 to join in celebrating the internationally renowned legal scholar and long-time director at the Institute. They showered him with standing ovations.

Professor Dr Dr h.c. mult. Reinhard Zimmermann is author and editor of influential, definitive publications on legal history, comparative private law, and the unification of European private law. His work has resonated worldwide, as attested by the ten honorary doctorates he has received so far from major universities from Chicago to Edinburgh. Professor Zimmermann was born in Hamburg in 1952, studied law at the University of Hamburg, and in 1981 received an appointment to the W.P. Schreiner Chair for Roman and Comparative Law at the University of Cape Town. He held the Civil, Roman, and Historical Comparative Law Chair at the University of Regensburg from 1988 until 2002. He has been a guest professor at among others Oxford, Cambridge, Yale, Chicago, Auckland, and Santiago de Chile. In 1996, he won the distinguished Gottfried Wilhelm Leibnitz Prize of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (German Research Foundation).

In 2002 he was named director at the Max Planck Institute for Comparative and International Private Law. Secondarily since 2008 he has also been a professor at Bucerius Law School and since 2011 in addition president of the Studienstiftung des Deutschen Volkes (German Academic Scholarship Foundation). He is regarded as a versatile researcher, an exceptional teacher, and a successful manager of research institutions.

Reinhard Zimmermann turned 70 on 10 October 2022 and will transition to emeritus status at the end of the month. To mark the occasion, the Institute and many of his students and advisees throughout the years organized a symposium from 13–14 October 2022 entitled “Comparative Legal History and Historical Comparative Law”. It concluded with a ceremonial celebration that was buoyed up by numerous laudations.

Katharina Fegebank, Second Mayor and Senator for Science, Research, and Equal Rights of the Free Hanseatic City of Hamburg sent salutations in which she expressed gratitude to Reinhard Zimmermann for his contribution as a builder of bridges between Hamburg and elsewhere in Europe and the world. She noted Zimmermann’s extraordinary achievements in promoting a Europeanization in the sciences and humanities.

Martin Stratmann, President of the Max Planck Society, thanked Reinhard Zimmermann in particular for his years of engagement with the Max Planck Society, which he served in various capacities including as head of the Human Sciences section. Stratmann also emphasized Zimmermann’s accomplishments that have made Hamburg a hub for legal scholarship.

Holger Fleischer, managing director at the Institute, delivered to Reinhard Zimmermann a special edition of the Institute publication "Private Law Gazette" dedicated to him and displaying the title "RZ Law Gazette". Fleischer praised his colleague as a great philanthrope and “good citizen” who had taken it to heart to foster successive generations of scholars.

There followed in praising Reinhard Zimmermann: Annette Julius, General Secretary of the German Academic Scholarship Foundation; Sonja Meier, Director of the Institute for Civil Law and Historical Comparative Law at the University of Cologne; and Stefan Vogenauer, director at the Max Planck Institute for Legal History and Legal Theory in Frankfurt.

Fifty-four of his former doctoral and postdoctoral students and academic peers came together to dedicate a comprehensive Festschrift to Reinhard Zimmermann for his seventieth birthday. The name of the book is "Iurium itinera: Historische Rechtsvergleichung und vergleichende Rechtsgeschichte – Historical Comparative Law and Comparative Legal History". Nils Jansen, Director of the Institute for Civil Law and Historical Comparative Law at the University of Münster, led the presentation ceremony.

© Max Planck Institute for Comparative and International Private Law

Other Interesting Articles

Go to Editor View