The Emergence of a European Private Law: Lessons from 19th Century Germany

16 Pages Posted: 16 Oct 2006

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As regards the emergence of a European private law in our time, this article shows that lessons can be learnt from the history of unification of regionally defined private law in the German Confederation (1815-1866). An important lesson is that the Europeanization of private law will be anything but a spontaneous process. Moreover, like the members of the German Confederation almost two hundred years ago, the members of the current European Union will not have an equal say in the debate about unification of private law. Now, as then, economic interdependencies between the respective members will come into play. That is to say, the members the economies of which are relatively less dependent upon the economies of other members than vice versa are poised to have a larger say in the debate.

Keywords: Private Law, Unification of Law, Legal History, Comparative Law

JEL Classification: K

Suggested Citation

Kanning, Arnald J., The Emergence of a European Private Law: Lessons from 19th Century Germany. Oxford Journal of Legal Studies, 2006, Available at SSRN:

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