Global Legal Pluralism

Posted: 4 Jun 2010

See all articles by Ralf Michaels

Ralf Michaels

Max Planck Institute for Comparative and International Private Law

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Date Written: December 2009


Some challenges of legal globalization closely resemble those formulated earlier for legal pluralism: the irreducible plurality of legal orders, the coexistence of domestic state law with other legal orders, the absence of a hierarchically superior position transcending the differences. This review discusses how legal pluralism engages with legal globalization and how legal globalization utilizes legal pluralism. It demonstrates how several international legal disciplines — comparative law, conflict of laws, public international law, and European Union law — have slowly begun to adopt some ideas of legal pluralism. It shows how traditional themes and questions of legal pluralism — the definition of law, the role of the state, of community, and of space — are altered under conditions of globalization. It addresses interrelations between different legal orders and various ways, both theoretical and practical, to deal with them. And it provides an outlook on the future of global legal pluralism as theory and practice of global law.

Suggested Citation

Michaels, Ralf, Global Legal Pluralism (December 2009). Annual Review of Law and Social Science, Vol. 5, pp. 243-262, 2009. Available at SSRN: or

Ralf Michaels (Contact Author)

Max Planck Institute for Comparative and International Private Law ( email )

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