Encyclopedia of Law and Economics

Living Edition
| Editors: Alain Marciano, Giovanni Battista Ramello

German Law System

  • Sonja Elisabeth Haberl
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-7883-6_596-1


The following entry provides an overview of some elected aspects of the German law system. From different points of view, the German system has been deeply influenced by the ordoliberal ideas developed within the Freiburg School in the early 1930s of the twentieth century. One of the core ordoliberal concepts that have to be discussed within the constitutional framework is that of a social market economy. Social market economy became the interpretive framework for the economic and social order of Western Germany in the aftermath of World War II, and today, it represents not only a key concept at national level but also within the European Union. No less important is the role of the so-called Private Law Society, another key concept of ordoliberal thinking. Its main elements are clearly reflected in the Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch (BGB) of 1900 which is based on the idea of the citizen as a homo oeconomicus. Notwithstanding its traditional approach – libertarian, unsocial, and individualistic – the BGB, a child of the abstract conceptualism of the Pandectist school, has been able to survive till today. This is the merit of judge-made law and, in particular, of the theory of the indirect horizontal effect of fundamental rights in relations governed by private law. In recent times, the BGB has even assumed a highly visible role as a possible model within the harmonization of European contract law. The entry finishes with a description of the German system of legal education, a state-oriented and judge-centered bureaucratic model which is still embedded in the model of a “uniform jurist,” the so-called Einheitsjurist.


Legal Profession Legal Education Social Market Economy General Clause Federal Constitutional 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Böhm F (1966) Privatrechtsgesellschaft und Marktwirtschaft. ORDO 17:75–151Google Scholar
  2. Bommarius C (2011) Lecture – Germany’s Sozialstaat principle and the founding period. German Law J 12:1879–1886. Available at http://www.germanlawjournal.com/index.php?pageID=11&artID=1389. Bonefeld 2012
  3. Bonefeld W (2012) Freedom and the strong state: on German ordoliberalism. New Polit Econ 17:633–656CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Häberle P (1987) Die Menschenwürde als Grundlage der staatlichen Gemeinschaft. In: Isensee J, Kirchhof P (eds) Handbuch des Staatrechts, vol 1. C.F. Müller, Heidelberg, pp 815–861Google Scholar
  5. Joerges C, Roedl F (2004) “Social market economy” as Europe’s social model? European University Institute. Available at http://ssrn.com/abstract=635362
  6. Keilmann A (2006) The Einheitsjurist – a German phenomenon. German Law J 7:293–312. Available at http://www.germanlawjournal.com/index.php?pageID=11&artID=712 Google Scholar
  7. Kielmansegg PG (1990) The basic law – response to the past or design for the future? In: Lehmann H, Ledford K (eds) Forty years of the Grundgesetz. German Historical Institute, Washington, DC, pp 5–18. Available at http://www.ghi-dc.org/publications/ghipubs/op/op01.pdf Google Scholar
  8. Korioth S (2006) Legal education in Germany today. Wis Int Law J 24:85–107Google Scholar
  9. Markesinis BS, Unberath H, Johnston A (2006) The German law of contract: a comparative treatise. Hart Publishing, Oxford/PortlandGoogle Scholar
  10. Micklitz HW (2012) Do consumers and businesses need a new architecture of consumer law? A thought-provoking impulse. European University Institute, Florence. Available at http://cadmus.eui.eu/bitstream/handle/1814/23275/LAW_2012_23_Rev.pdf?sequence=3 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Müller-Armack A (1933) Staatsidee und Wirtschaftsordnung im neuen Reich. Juncker und Duennhaupt, BerlinGoogle Scholar
  12. Müller-Armack A (1966) Wirtschaftsordnung und Wirtschaftspolitik. Rombach, FreiburgGoogle Scholar
  13. Rüthers B (1988) Entartetes recht: Rechtslehen und kronjuńisten im Dritten Reich. C.H. Beck, MünchenGoogle Scholar
  14. Scharpf F (2009) Föderalismusreform: kein Ausweg aus der Politikverflechtungsfalle? Campus-Verlag, Frankfurt/New YorkGoogle Scholar
  15. Schmidt-Rimpler W (1941) Grundfragen einer Erneuerung des Vertragsrechts. Archiv für die civilistische Praxis 147:130–197Google Scholar
  16. Schulze R, Schulte-Nölke H (eds) (2001) Die Schuldrechtsreform vor dem Hintergrund des Gemeinschaftsrechts. Mohr Siebeck, TübingenGoogle Scholar
  17. Somma A (2013) Private law as biopolitics: ordoliberalism, social market economy, and the public dimension of contract. Law Contemp Probl 76:105–116. Available at http://scholarship.law.duke.edu/lcp/vol76/iss2 Google Scholar
  18. Stolleis M (1998) The law under the swastika. The University of Chicago Press, ChicagoGoogle Scholar
  19. Stolleis M (2002) Geschichte des öffentlichen Rechts in Deutschland: Weimarer Republik und Nationalsozialismus. C.H. Beck, MünchenGoogle Scholar
  20. Zacher HF (1987) Das soziale Staatsziel. In: Isensee J, Kirchhof P (eds) Handbuch des Staatsrechts der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, vol 1. C.F. Müller, Heidelberg, pp 1045–1112Google Scholar
  21. Zitelmann E (1900) Zur Begrüβung des neuen Gesetzbuches. Deutsche Juristen-Zeitung 5:2–6Google Scholar
  22. Zweigert K, Kötz H (1994) An introduction to comparative law. Clarendon, OxfordGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of FerraraFerraraItaly