Max Planck Society

Max Planck Institute for Comparative and International Private Law

Media Information
Online version Handwörterbuch des Europäischen Privatrechts

German-Chinese Jurists’ Association (DCJV)

Since the end of the Cultural Revolution a transformation has been under way in Chinese law. The People’s Republic of China has made a concerted effort to establish a new legal system which corresponds to the demands of the modern economy.  In so doing, Chinese legislators have shown a readiness to draw on the experiences of foreign legal regimes. German law has frequently been turned to as a model partly on account of historical circumstances and partly due to the fact that the highly structured nature of German law facilitates its reception. This opening of the People’s Republic of China has been mirrored by a growing interest among German jurists in the transforming Chinese legal system.


Consistent with these developments, the German-Chinese Jurists’ Association (DCJV) was founded in the summer of 1986 as a recognised non-profit entity. Its members primarily come from the fields of law, business and administration.


The Association is charged with the task of supporting and promoting an awareness and understanding of Chinese law in Germany and, correspondingly, German law in China. The head of the Institute’s China Unit, Dr. Knut Benjamin Pißler, has been on the Association’s board of directors since 2005.

European China Law Studies

About ECLS


The legal situation in China has been a focal point of debate among foreign investors, politicians and human rights groups for decades, and yet there are only comparatively few academics worldwide who are really involved in the subject. Those who are sometimes appear to know little about what the others are doing, due to a lack of efficient academic networks and platforms in the field.

In 2006, on the initiative of Professor Marina Svensson (Centre for East and South-East Asian Studies, Lund University), a group of some twenty researchers from all over Europe, and some of them from the U.S.A., Australia and the PRC, convened in Mölle (Sweden) to explore the untapped potential for mutual exchange, joint research and a European network of China Law Studies. After three days of lively discussion, the convenors shared the view that a European China Law Studies Association (ECLS) was a desideratum within the landscape of academic networks and associations in Europe.

At the end of August 2007 the Association's first annual conference took place at the Max Planck Institute in Hamburg at which 60 jurists, researchers and student participants met to discuss the latest developments in Chinese law. Subsequently, ECLS academic conferences have been held on an annual basis in various European cities. The conferences create a regular forum fostering interdisciplinary exchange in respect of Chinese law and have met with wide interest.

Further Information

China-EU School of Law

In 2008 on behalf of the European Commission and the People's Republic of China, a university consortium under the leadership of the University of Hamburg established the China-EU School of Law (CESL) in Peking. With financial support totalling 35 million euros, the CESL is one of the most prominent European-Chinese cooperative legal projects that will be undertaken by the EU in the coming years. The Max Planck Institute for Comparative and International Private Law is an associate in the consortium.


Involved participants include the Universities of Madrid (Spain), Bologna (Italy), Robert-Schuman Strasbourg (France), Sciences Po Paris (France), Lund (Sweden), Leuven (Belgium), Manchester (Great Britain), Krakow (Poland) and Maastricht (Netherlands) as well as the Central European University (Hungary), the Eötvos Lorand University (Hungary) in Budapest und the Trinity College Dublin (Ireland). For China's part, the China University of Political Science and Law (CUPL) and the Tsinghua University will participate, both located in Peking. The consortium is being significantly supported by the Bucerius Law School, the Max Planck Institutes in Hamburg, Heidelberg, Munich and Freiburg, the Europa-Kolleg Hamburg and several European law firms.


The Chinese Ministry of Education announced its authorisation for the establishment of the CESL on 19 September 2008. The official inauguration took place on 23 October 2008 with the participation of LI Keqiang, Executive Vice Premier of the People's Republic of China and Jose Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission.


The CESL has already commenced a two-year graduate program in European law which results in the conferral of a Chinese as well as a European master's degree. Beginning in November 2008 the university will offer professional training modules in various legal fields for Chinese judges, government attorneys and lawyers. Additionally, a Chinese-European research and consultation institute will be erected with the task of providing advice and academic counsel on the reform of Chinese legislation. The first CESL research workshop took place on 10th and 11th January 2009. In 2009 and 2010 the Institute welcomed the most promising candidates of the CESL for their participation in a day-long summer school seminar on European private law.


The European Commission is financing the CESL-Project with up to 17.7 million euros over a five year period. Chinese sources will provide an investment of just under 10 million euros. An additional 7.58 million euros will be supplied by the following consortium partners: the Hamburg Senate is to contribute financing of 2.6 million euros, 1.2 million euros will be provided by the university and 800,000 euros from the German federal government. An additional three million euros will be supplied by international partners of the Hamburg consortium.

Legal Consultation of Chinese Lawmakers

In March of 1998 the Legislative Affairs Commission of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress created a timeline for the completion of a civil code. The plan envisioned first enacting a uniform contractual code and then a succession of further codes through 2010. The contractual code was passed on 15 March 1999. Property law as well as tort law and international private law have subsequently been promulgated in 2007, 2009 and 2010 respectively


In cooperation with the Peking branch of the Gesellschaft für internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), the Institute served as an advisor to the Chinese legislature. In September 2005 Gebhard Rehm travelled to Chengdu and Peking in order to participate in two symposia on the drafting of a Chinese property law. In November 2005 the Institute in Hamburg hosted members of the Legal Committee and Prof. Dr. Hinrich Julius of the Peking branch of the GIZ in order to discuss the draft of the 8th book planned for the Chinese civil code, covering torts. At the start of October 2006 a consultation took place at the Hamburg Institute regarding the 9th book, treating international private law. At the end of October Gebhard Rehm and Knut Benjamin Pißler travelled to Peking to answer further questions of the Legal Committee regarding the codification on international private law.


In similar cooperation with the GIZ, the Institute assisted the Ministry of Civil Affairs, responsible for the registration and administration of non-profit organisations, in improving the Chinese regulations governing foundations. Towards this aim Thomas von Hippel and Knut Benjamin Pißler travelled to Peking in November 2005 in order to attend an international symposium which had been organised by the GIZ and the Ministry of Civil Administration on mechanisms for evaluating foundations.