Max Planck Society

Max Planck Institute for Comparative and International Private Law

Media Information
Online version Handwörterbuch des Europäischen Privatrechts
Event Reports
16-17 May 2014 – Employee Participation and Collective Bargaining in the Era of Globalisation

Conference on 16 and 17 May 2014 at the Max Planck Institute for Comparative and International Private Law in Hamburg


The conference was organised by Jürgen Basedow and Matteo Fornasier (both MPI Hamburg) in cooperation with Ulla Liukkunen (University of Helsinki), the Finnish Centre of Chinese Law and Chinese Legal Culture and the Institute of Law of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS). The lectures and discussions (all held in English) were attended by approximately 75 participants hailing from various German universities, Scandinavian and Baltic nations, the Netherlands, Great Britain, Belarus, Spain, Belgium and China.


For more information please refer to the German page


8 May 2014 – “Croatian EU Accession – New Challenges for Legislators, Legal Theory and Practice”

On 8 May 2014, the Institute invited Professor Tatjana Josipović, first lady of the Republic of Croatia and professor of civil law at the University of Zagreb, to deliver a lecture on Croatian succession to the EU. The lecture took place at the Bucerius Law School, co-sponsor of the event, and offered a detailed look at Croatia’s complex and multi-level EU accession proceedings, beginning with the accession negotiations comprising many years and continuing on to the ultimate accession of the nation as the 28th Member State of the European Union on 1 July 2013. Josipović stressed that the accession of Croatia into the Union had significant effects on Croatian private law. Conversely, it also posed certain challenges for European private law. As to the future, she stated that the question of how to effectively apply private law rules and at the same time protect the personal rights of citizens – understood at both the individual as well as collective levels – will hold particular importance.


For more information please refer to the German page

22 July 2013 – Sommerkonzil – Koen Lenaerts

For a number of years now, the Institute has invited a high-ranking foreign judge to speak at the final instalment of the Academic Council (Wissenchaftliches Konzil) held before the summer break. The 2013 Sommerkonzil saw this invitation extended to Koen Lenaerts, Vice-President of the European Court of Justice and Director of the Institute for European Law of the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven. On 22 July 2013 he delivered a lecture titled “The Development of the Brussels I Regulation as a Dialogue between the European Court of Justice and the EU Legislature”.


In the introduction to his address, held in German, Lenaerts observed that the Brussels I Regulation was, as is known, subject to revision on 12 December 2012. He recalled, further, that the previously applicable version of 22 December 2000 as well as the forerunner instrument of 27 September 1968 (Brussels Convention) were, themselves, considerable successes.


The primary argument advanced by Lenaerts in his address was that the jurisprudence of the European Court of Justice could in many ways be seen as having shaped both the development of the Brussels I Regulation and the latest legislative reform. This could be observed in the explicit adoption of case holdings in legislation, through a silent acceptance of rulings achieved by legislative inaction as regards the relevant provisions, and, no less, through the creation of new solutions by the legislature, the latter being traceable to the initiative of the Court of Justice in instances when the Court identified as desirable in its ruling a particular interpretation, but – with deference to legal certainty – characterised the change as methodologically unattainable. Lenaerts then buttressed this assertion with reference to several illustrative rulings of the Court of Justice, as regards the then applicable Brussels I Regulation, in connection with the respective reaction of the European legislator in the new version of the Regulation.


Thus, in Gasser, even when confronted with the abusive filings commonly referred to as torpedo actions, the Court of Justice upheld the strict priority which the Brussels Convention gave to the court first-seised – this having been done so as to prevent parallel proceedings and inconsistent judgments. Here the legislator responded in the new version of the Regulation such that in case of prorogation the agreed upon court is given a primary competence which includes also the competence to rule on the effectiveness of the choice-of-court agreement. Conversely, the ruling in West Tankers – holding impermissible the use of anti-suit injunctions as a means of preventing the circumvention of arbitration agreements – is left fully unaffected by the new version of the Regulation. As regards the protection of arbitration agreements from parallel state court proceedings and in the face of the proposal of the European Commission, a paradigm change could not find the necessary political support and thus did not materialize. In Owusu as well, the European legislator retained the solution found by the Court of Justice, whereby the jurisdictional provisions in the Regulation are mandatory and no room for application is given to the English doctrine of forum non conveniens, by which a judge can reject the jurisdiction he has been given. The new Regulation does, however, contain an individual provision which, under strict conditions, allows a Member State court to suspend the proceedings exceptionally in favour of proceedings already commenced in a third state.


Considered by Lenaerts next was the GlaxoSmithKline case. There the ECJ decided that under the then existing state of the Brussels I Regulation it would not be possible for an employee to sue before one court employers from several Member States. The Court of Justice did, however, note that such a possibility is desirable, a possibility which the legislator has now created in the new Regulation, with the additional proviso that the possibility exists only in favour of employees.


Lenaerts concluded by observing that the reform of the Regulation was the product of continuous work and development undertaken in cooperative tandem with the jurisprudence and that it was not some sort of planned legal instrument formulated on a drawing board oblivious to legal practice. And even insofar as the text of the instrument has been left unchanged, the new Regulation is for the Court of Justice an important and democratically resonant confirmation of its work.


The ensuing discussion considered primarily the role of different interpretive methods and, especially, questions regarding the peculiarities of the rules on international jurisdiction. Lenaerts was of the view that this is, perhaps, a field justifiably more formalistic than, for example, the area of harmonisation of substantive law, since in the former the principles of legal certainty and foreseeability play an especially important role and little room exists for placing a margin of discretion in national courts. At the moment the door is opened to national solutions, one must always be aware of the potential of facing 28 different results


An essay based on this address will appear in one of the next issues of the Rabel Journal on Comparative and International Private Law.

1 July 2013 – Reimar Lüst Lecture 2013 – delivered by Lord Jonathan Mance

"In a manner of speaking: how far do common, civil and European law compare?"


On 1 July 2013 the Reimar Lüst Lecture was held at the Institute. Baron Mance, PC, Justice on the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, delivered an address titled, “In a manner of speaking: how far do common, civil and European law compare?”. Lord Mance completed his studies at University College, Oxford, and was called to the bar at Middle Temple in 1965. In 1993 he was appointed as judge at the British High Court of Justice, Queen’s Bench Division. Beginning in 1999 he was a Lord Justice of Appeal and Privy Councillor. His introduction as a member of the House of Lords followed in 2005. In 2009 the functions of the House of Lords were assumed by the newly established Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, with Lord Mance serving on that body until present.


Featuring Reimar Lüst in attendance, the evening programme featured the musical accompaniment of the Bucerius Saxophone Quartet. Within the framework of his English-language address, Lord Mance explored the function and aim of dissenting opinions in high court rulings. In so doing, Lord Mance offered a comparative assessment of the differences between the polyphonic systems that permit dissenting opinions and the monophonic systems which do not, giving in-depth consideration to the distinctions in different legal fields as well as between national, supranational and international courts. With clear examples drawn from his practical experience on the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, Lord Mance detailed the advantages of the common law system in respect of its allowing dissenting opinions and stressed the culture of discussion found in a judicial panel. ‘Furthermore, his analysis considered empirical evidence, including reference to relatively recent developments such as judicial panels comprising judges not having the same native tongue. Lord Mance appended to his assessment a plea for a more profound and better institutionalised incorporation of comparative law in the work of the (highest) national courts.


The highly attended address concluded with a lively discussion in which academics and practitioners voiced their opinions and experiences as regards dissenting opinions. Particularly as to the suggestion of Lord Mance that the European Court of Justice be converted to a polyphonic court, the round of discussion yielded a number of different viewpoints.


The Reimar Lüst Lecture was initiated by the Max Planck Society in 1998 on the occasion of the 75th birthday of its former president, Professor Reimar Lüst. The lecture is delivered each year at one of the more than 80 Max Planck Institutes, with the topic being oriented to the research emphasis of the Institute invited to host the event.


Reimar Lüst was awarded his post-doctoral degree (Habilitation) in theoretical physics in 1960 by the University of Munich and was from 1963 to 1972 Director of the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics. Subsequently he served until 1984 as President of the Max Planck Society. His later activities included positions as Director General of the European Space Agency and President of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, of which he remains Honorary President.

3-5 December 2012 – Harmonius School of Law as Forum for Southeast Europe

From 3 to 5 December 2012 the academic network Harmonius, that was founded in Belgrade in 2007, held its annual meeting at the School of Law in Zlatibor in Serbia and for the first time invited not only Serbian researchers but also young researchers from Croatia and Montenegro and guests from Germany and Poland.


The conference, which was hosted in conjunction with the German Foundation for International Legal Cooperation (IRZ) Foundation on the topic ‘South East Europe – EU ante portas’, provided a forum for academic discussion and the opportunity to make new contacts and deepen existing relationships.