Understanding the Law in a Historical and Comparative Perspective – As Exemplified by the Law of Succession

This course has been postponed due to COVID.

Originally set for 17-18 January 2022, now postponed due to COVID. A new date will be set when appropriate.

MPI for Comparative and International Private Law (MPI-Hamburg)

Prof. Reinhard Zimmermann (Director MPI-Hamburg)

The seminar will be presented by Professor Reinhard Zimmermann and members of his working group in the Hamburg Max Planck Institute. It will take place on 17/18 January, starting on 17 January at 15:00 and finishing on 18 January at 13:00. On 17 January in the evening participants will be invited to a conference dinner. The seminar will take place in-person (i.e. not online) with a minimum of 10 and a maximum of 30 participants.

The afternoon of 17 January will have two sessions. In the first one Professor Zimmermann will present the Institute and what he and his working group have been doing over the past years and are planning to do in the immediate future. He will explain and discuss with the participants the historical and comparative approach he is pursuing in his research. The second slot will be devoted to the projects of three team members of his working group, one in the law of contract, one in the law of delict, and one in succession law. There will thus be three presentations of 20 minutes, followed by discussion slots of also 20 minutes.

The morning of 18 January will also feature two sessions. Both of them will be devoted to the law of succession. This is a key branch of private law which has led a Cinderella existence for more than a century, particularly as far as historical and comparative research is concerned. Today, this is beginning to change – not least because of its tremendous practical importance. According to the German Institute for Economic Research, between 2017 and 2027 nearly 400 billion Euro are or will be transferred upon death every year in Germany alone. For a number of years, the law of succession has therefore been a topic of particular interest for Professor Zimmermann and his working group.

The first session will explore how private autonomy (in the form of freedom of testation) and the precepts of family solidarity can best be reconciled. The problem will be discussed in break-out sessions by the participants of the seminar under the guidance of a member of the Institute, before the various possible solutions, its respective advantages and drawbacks, will be discussed in a plenary session. This will feed into the discussion of a research project on mandatory family protection Professor Zimmermann and members of his group have been busy with over the past year. The second session will be devoted to a discussion on whether and, if so, to what extent, the law of succession reflects cultural differences between the national legal systems.

Participants will be expected to read two essays that will be distributed beforehand in preparation for the discussion on 17 January (first session) and 18 January (second session).

Apart from Professor Zimmermann, the following members of his working group are going to take part in the seminar: Dirk Erdelkamp, Jonathan Friedrichs, Dr. Ben Köhler, Dr. Jan Peter Schmidt, Dr. Philipp Scholz, Max Taylor und Dr. Denise Wiedemann.  


The event is finished.


17 - 18 Jan 2022
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