Max Planck Society

Max Planck Institute for Comparative and International Private Law

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Online version Handwörterbuch des Europäischen Privatrechts


Research at the Max Planck Institute for Comparative and International Private Law

The Max Planck Institute for Comparative and International Private Law systematically researches private and commercial law as well as international private law from a transnational perspective, and engages with the fundamental methodical questions that arise from this research. In its fields of research, the Institute seeks to help further the development of law and meet the challenges that accompany the globalisation of living conditions and the internationalisation of the law.

Starting from an analysis of the differences and commonalities among legal systems in Europe and around the world, the Institute studies the interrelationships among private rule-formation, national legal systems, supranational law and intergovernmental agreements. The Institute’s research also serves to establish foundations for international understanding of law and develop rules and instruments to better coordinate the application of national legal systems to cross-border matters.

The Activity Report offers an overview of the Institute’s current scholarly work.


Current Research Projects

Gender and Private International Law
Gender-based stereotypes, inequalities, and power relationship shape our globalized law. Constructions of gender identity work across borders in complicated and sometimes invisible ways. Highlighting, assessing, and addressing these aspects is of critical importance, both in the area of traditional family law and in all other legal areas. mehr

Decolonial Comparative Law
Decolonial comparative law both identifies how the matrix of modernity/coloniality structures prevalent understandings of law and offers decolonial alternatives. more


Paths out of the Labyrinth: European Contract Law – Synthesis and Orientation
At the political level, European lawmakers have for the time being abandoned their attempt to create a uniform European contract law from the tangle of EU Directives, national law and academic reference works. The publication “Commentaries on European Contract Laws” shows, however, that we need not fall into a state of paralysis. more


The Institute’s Research Areas

European Private Law and Harmonisation of Private Law

The Institute aims to offer critical input on developments in European private law from a scholarly perspective. It is committed to providing scholarly guidance through the maze of discourses and regulations, analysing and systematising the puzzle pieces of the piecemeal regulations of European private law, and developing new proposals for solutions. more


Commercial, Company and Capital Market Law

Commercial, company and capital market law is one of the Institute’s main research areas. Foundational and current issues are examined critically on a broad comparative basis and placed in a wider historical and international context. The Institute also develops regulatory proposals for reforms at the national, European and international levels as appropriate. more



Internationale Private and Procedural Law

Questions concerning international legal jurisdiction, cross-border cooperation among courts and judicial authorities, the applicability of foreign legal norms, and the legal force of national court decisions abroad form the foundation of this research area. more



Comparative Law, Legal History and Law and Economics

Along with substantive law and the associated procedural laws, the Institute has also traditionally dealt with the fundamentals of methodology. The methodological approaches of international comparative law date back to the period of the Institute’s founding. Ernst Rabel, the first director of the Institute, is considered a pioneer of this discipline. Our research also focuses on interpreting the historical foundations of modern civil law. In the analysis of matters of commercial law, it is especially indispensable to apply economic approaches and knowledge in company law and capital market law. The economic analysis of law is thus the subject matter of numerous projects. more


Foreign Law

Centres of Excellence

A long-term focus on analysis of foreign laws is one of the Institute’s main research priorities. Or regional centres of expertise provide academic support to transformational processes and reforms in legal orders that are subject to particularly dynamic development. These centres are also devoted to developing a depth of knowledge about economically important legal orders that are relatively inaccessible due to language difficulties.
Centres of Excellence



Each year, the Institute holds a variety of academic events. Symposia and conferences are an integral part of our research programme. Renowned guest scholars give lectures at the Institute as well. There are also established event formats that enable the Institute’s early career scholars to present their research and discuss it with guests.

Events calendar
Reports on events

Forum on International Sports Law

Forum on International Sports Law
The Forum on International Sports Law is a cooperative effort of the Max Planck Institute for Comparative and International Private Law in Hamburg and the Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy in Munich. The aim of the Forum is regularly to consider current questions arising in the field of international sports law and to generate a discussion on these topics with representatives of the sports, business and academic worlds. The symposia are oriented towards jurists working in either practice or academia who are interested in sports law issues. more