Max Planck Society

Max Planck Institute for Comparative and International Private Law

Media Information
Online version Handwörterbuch des Europäischen Privatrechts


The Institute is dedicated to foundational research in the fields of European and international private law, commercial law, economic law and civil procedure. The goal of its research activities is to study how various legal systems address cases and conflicts which arise in the context of private law broadly conceived. Legal systems from throughout the world are thus analysed and scrutinised in respect of their differences, similarities and mutual influences. Simultaneously, areas of potential harmonisation are explored.

Europe is growing together. The social and economic exchange between all corners of the world is expanding. Legislatures, judges, citizens and businesses are increasingly confronted with legal questions that can no longer be solved at the purely national level. Accordingly, within the framework of its areas of specialisation, one of the essential tasks of the Institute is to address the challenges arising from the integration and the internationalisation of economic, social and legal relations.

European Private Law and Private Law Unification

One of the most important aims of this research focus is the conceptualisation of a future European private law regime. To create a firm basis for this research, the Institute has combined legal knowledge from all aspects of this subject, including historical and comparative perspectives, in a structured form in the Handwörterbuch des Europäischen Privatrechts published in 2009. This was followed in 2012 by an English version, customised to allow the material to reach a wider international audience and published as the Max Planck Encyclopedia of European Private Law. The Institute also engages at a global level with the challenges thrown up by legal unification, such as in the area of international commercial contracts.


Max Planck Encyclopedia of European Private Law

Principles of European Insurance Contract Law, PEICL

Towards a Revision of the Consumer-Acquis

UNIDROIT Principles of International Commercial Contracts

Economic Law and Competition Law

The research activities of the Institute in this research area concentrate on issues of company and corporate law, financial and capital markets law, and competition law. Important themes are legal rules for closed corporations, the future of corporate governance, the law governing non-profit organisations and foundations, the cross-dimensional issue of whistleblowing and the law governing cartels. While the focus is often on the European dimension, attention is also paid to non-European legal systems included for the purposes of comparison.

International Private and Procedural Law

This area of research is based on questions about international jurisdiction, the applicability of foreign legal norms, and the validity of national court decisions in other countries. The continued development of international private law, above all the increase in conflicts of law with the EU legislature, underlies the subject matter of numerous research projects at the Institute. For example, research is currently taking place into issues of cross-border cooperation between courts within the internal market, civil law practice of the European Court of Justice, and intellectual property from a global comparative law perspective.


The Law of Open Societies

The Principles on Conflict of Laws in Intellectual Property (CLIP)

Applicable Law and Efficiency: Economic Foundations of Private International Law

Conflict of Laws Study Examines the Foundations of International Antitrust Litigation

Regulating Dispute Resolution

Legal Methodology, Comparative Law, Legal History, Law and Economics

The fundamentals of European and comparative methodology are also a focus of research at the Institute. The methodical approaches of international comparative law date back to the time of its foundation. Ernst Rabel, the first Director of the Institute, is regarded as a pioneer of this discipline. Another research focus is the development of the historical foundations of modern civil law. For the analysis of commercial issues, particularly in the area of company and capital markets law, the application of economic thinking and knowledge is essential. Therefore, many projects adopt a law and economics perspective to their research.

Foreign law: regional centres of competence and specialised country research units

The long-term focus on analysis of foreign laws is one of the Institute’s main research aims. Regional centres of expertise have been set up to provide academic support to transformational processes and reforms in legal orders that are subject to particularly dynamic development, and also to develop a depth of knowledge about economically important legal orders that are relatively inaccessible due to language difficulties. Our focus is on China, Korea and Japan, Russia and other CIS-nations, Southeast Europe, Islamic countries and Latin America.


Center for East Asian Law


Islamic Legal Systems



Russia and other CIS States