Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Prof. Dr. Giesela Rühl


Modern societies are global societies: We purchase goods from foreign traders, use services supplied by foreign providers, go on holidays abroad and marry people from other countries – social interactions do not stop at national borders. However, this does not apply to law, which to this day largely is a national matter. German law differs from that in England, France or Italy. For individuals acting across borders, this raises many questions: Which law applies to cross-border contracts? Which law governs marriages entered into across borders? Before which courts can legal action be brought if a dispute arises? Under what conditions can a judgment obtained abroad be enforced in Germany? In addition, national or regional legislators are facing the problem that they have to rely on their arsenal of national or regional law to regulate activities that have effects on global scale.

The tension between globally operating societies and nationally applicable law cannot be easily resolved. In practice, various solution strategies have emerged that are complementary. On the one hand they relate to the sphere of state regulation (public ordering) and on the other hand to the sphere of private autonomy (private ordering). The solution strategies which can be associated with the sphere of public ordering are characterized by the fact that a regulatory authority is exercising central and "top down" control. Examples are measures of the European legislator or international organizations aiming at legal standardization and harmonization, as well as the regulatory system of international private and procedural law. In contrast, solution strategies that belong to the sphere of private ordering are characterized by the fact that they are organized in a decentralized manner by the concerned parties themselves, and thus "bottom up". Examples include the establishment of long-term business relationships, the use of sector-specific model contracts, the development of trade and information networks, and private arbitration.

Professor Rühl and her team are currently looking into various solution strategies that relate to the level of public ordering. In particular, they focus on issues of European private (international) law and international civil procedural. In addition, topics from civil law (mainly contract and tort law) and civil procedural (principally alternative dispute resolution and digitalization) are addressed. From a methodological perspective, instruments of comparative law and economic analysis of law are applied.