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Max Planck Institute for Comparative and International Private Law


Professor Dr Dr hc Holger Fleischer, LLM (Michigan), Dipl-Kfm
Professor Dr Ralf Michaels, LLM (Cambridge)
Professor Dr Dr hc mult. Reinhard Zimmerman

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. 

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.  Projects include, inter alia, Max Planck Encyclopedia of European Private Law.

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. Projects include, inter alia,  corporate social responsibility  and tales from the law of family firms. 

International 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. Projects include, inter alia,  the philosophical foundations of private international law, and gender and private international  law.

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. Projects include, inter alia,  decolonial comparative law.

Joining the Institute

Support for junior scholars is provided in various ways: Postdoctoral (Habilitation) and doctoral dissertations (Promotion) are supported via the the granting of research fellow and doctoral dissertations. Short term scholarships are also available for international researchers. Through various academic events and institutional exchange programmes, the institute specifically assists junior scholars in developing international networks for their research. 

For further information and application, please visit the Institute’s website: www.mpipriv.de.


Max Planck Institute for Comparative and International Private Law

Mittelweg 187
20148 Hamburg

Tel: +49 40 41900 – 0
Fax: +49 40 41900 – 288


For information on careers, support for junior researchers, and scholarship proramme:


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