22 Aug 2022


Yearbook Highlights 2021

The Yearbook of the Max Planck Society features research reports submitted by all its Institutes. Its purpose is  ‘to render account … the scientific research performed at its Institutes to the public and its funding providers.’ All research reports are published on the Max Planck Society website.

Max Planck Law is pleased to present below the contributions of the Institutes within our network to the 2021 Yearbook.

Is the Compulsory Portion Still Appropriate Today?

By Reinhard Zimmermann


In Germany, freedom of testation prevails. Everyone can freely dispose of his/her property and therefore also determine by means of a will who is going to inherit it. The right to a compulsory portion fixes a clear limit concerning that power of disposal: The deceased’s closest family members are entitled to quotas of the estate. It does not matter whether they were economically dependent on the deceased. Today, however, it is increasingly rare that children are still entitled to financial support from their parents when the latter die. Hence, the compulsory portion needs to be reconsidered. Read more …

Population Numbers as an Object of International Law: Interpretation and Regulation between 1945 and 1980

By Dana Schmalz


Concerns with population numbers have a long history. Yet only in the past 120 years, the world population is a topic in academic and public debates. Linked to population developments are several normative questions. In my research, I am exploring how debates around population numbers shaped modern law, and how in particular in the phase between 1945 and 1980, the issue of global and regional population growth played a role in the developments of international law. A key observation is that law was not only a tool for regulating population developments but also a site of narrative authority. Read more …

Patent Rights in Times of the Pandemic

By Reto M. Hilty, Suelen Carls, and Daria Kim


One of the biggest challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic has been the provision of sufficient quantities of vaccine over months. While rich industrialised countries ordered huge quantities early on, poorer states suffered from a glaring shortage. Against this background, several of them have requested among other things the temporary suspension of patent rights at the World Trade Organization (WTO). Our team has analysed the legal situation. Read more …

This contribution was also included on p. 26 of the printed highlights.

Pictures of Our Heroes: Do You Know Eugen Ehrlich?

By Ralf Seinecke


Researchers can become heroes, and not just when their expertise is in high demand and they attain a level of notoriety through media attention. To this day, the jurist Eugen Ehrlich is still viewed as a role model and guiding figure in many senses: while some take him to be the ‘founder of legal sociology’, others see him as the ‘forefather of legal pluralism’. For Ralf Seinecke, however, these images of the heroes of science should be taken with caution. While they are certainly important and groundbreaking figures, these picture or images also elude the categories of true and false. Read more …

Public and Private Enforcement of Consumer Law

By Burkhard Hess and Michalis Spyropoulos


In the fall of 2021, the Max Planck Institute Luxembourg completed a research project that examined the private and public enforcement of European consumer law in six European Member States. The project covered Belgium, Estonia, France, Germany, Luxembourg, and England and Wales (before Brexit). It had been commissioned by the Luxembourg Ministry for Consumer Protection. The results of the Study were published in the book series of the Institute and encompassed six national reports and a general assessment. Read more …

If Others Abide by the Rule, I Follow Suit

By Christoph Engel


To a surprising degree, individuals are willing to follow rules just because they are in force. This even holds for patently arbitrary rules. But there is a catch. The more of her peers violate the rule, the more the average individual is inclined to do the same. This suggests that rule following is a precious resource for governing society, but that this resource requires vigilance. Read more …

Periodic Surveillance Barometer for Germany

By Ralf Poscher, Michael Kilchling, and Lukas Landerer


State surveillance measures and their impact on constitutional freedoms have long been the subject of legal and political discourse. We began developing a concept for establishing a periodic surveillance barometer. Designed as a theoretically and empirically grounded instrument it shall measure and assess the actual status of surveillance. The pioneering project aims at making the cumulative impact on privacy through the various surveillance activities by security and prosecution agencies recognizable and quantifiable. Read more …

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