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Research Specialization / Main Areas of Expertise at the Law Department

Boltzmannstraße 3 building

Boltzmannstraße 3 building
Image Credit: Grit Rother

Ars iuris – Law Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow – German and European, International and Global

Research at the Department of Law is dedicated to the foundations of law and to German and European law, international law, and law in a globalized world. It is embodied in the characteristic forms of publication of monographs and essays, commentaries and textbooks, reviews and discussions of judgments. These activities are based on research performed by individual scholars and in research alliances with other academic and non-academic institutions, particularly through the Department’s involvement in a collaborative research center (SFB 700: Governance in Areas of Limited Statehood) and in excellence clusters (Topoi – The Formation and Transformation of Space and Knowledge in Ancient Civilizations, and Languages of Emotion).

In terms of content, subjects such as Roman law and its history from the first millennium B.C. to the present day, German and European legal history, legal philosophy, methodology and criminology stand for the essential topics of study within the Department that already have an international bent by nature. This is also an important feature of international law, whose fundamentals are studied at the Department with an eye to the natural resources that sustain all life, to war and peace, and to the requirements and limitations of statehood. In cases of conflict between private individuals and entities with an international aspect, provisions of German, and increasingly also European, law govern the available options for application and enforcement of laws. This aspect is traditionally associated with comparative law. Another major area of focus for scholars at the Department is European law, which is illuminated from the public-law perspective from the Jean Monnet Chair and is considered in the context of conceptualizations of the state and the identity of the citizen and from the perspective of its regulatory potential in the fields of environmental and business law. This, then, bridges the gap between other fields and German constitutional and administrative law, which is one of the core disciplines in legal studies. It also opens up a path to civil law, where the influences of modern European law are now, as in all areas of economic life in Europe, a topic of inquiry. One major area of focus in this research that has grown up over the past several decades is antitrust, competition, and regulatory law. The Berliner Kommentare on energy and telecommunications law perform a pioneering role in this area and offer guidance for both academia and practicing jurists. Further areas of emphasis in business law from a broad perspective include legal provisions concerning consumer protection, corporate law, private insurance law, and labor and employment law. Thanks to a traditionally strong presence in labor and employment law, scholars at the Department are able to examine, analyze, and consider individual and collective labor and employment law from a critical standpoint, at both the German and European levels. Insurance law is studied for its importance in real-world practice and its academic appeal by scholars of both private and social insurance law. This in turn ties back in with public law and with the healthcare framework established by the state. Here, as in other areas, financing is a major question; this question is taken up on a general basis within the Department’s activities focusing on tax law. The judiciary, which ensures that the law is applied in case of disputes, is also funded by tax revenues. The state acts as a party in public law, including, with a particular claim to authority, in criminal law. The research performed in this area ranges from the fundamentals of German law with regard to codified criminal offenses and the procedural aspects of how they are prosecuted all the way to criminological analysis of reality and criticism founded on legal philosophy.

This rich and distinctive research profile contributes to the Department’s interdisciplinary and international interconnectedness and visibility as well as to its appeal for students. The major topics of focus in the Department’s research activities are reflected in the concentrations in which, toward the end of the study program, 30% of a student’s academic performance is put into the First State Exam in Law (Erste Juristische Prüfung). The research areas also indicate the subjects in which the expertise of scholars from the Department is sought during the legislative process, in German and international expert panel discussions, and in the courts.

Prof. Dr. Cosima Möller