Report from M-EPLI talk with Prof. Dr. Thomas Coendet- “Comparative Law as a Means of Legal Reasoning?”

By Dr. William Bull and Doris Beganovic


On the 13th of September 2017, M-EPLI had the honour of welcoming Prof. Dr. Thomas Coendet, the respected Swiss lawyer and current professor at KoGuan Law School in Shanghai, to give a talk on the topic of “Comparative Law as a Means of Legal Reasoning?”.

Firstly, some insight into comparative law should be given. Comparative law is the act of comparing the law of one country to the law of another, by and large first being the law of a foreign country and second being the law of one’s own country. The essence of comparison is looking at one legal data in both systems and then focusing on similarities and differences between them.  In most of the countries in Europe, legal decisions are based on legal reasoning that stems from the domestic jurisdiction. Judges do not usually look to foreign jurisdictions to guide their decisions or to create their arguments by engaging in comparison between the foreign law and their own.

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Is a Facebook account inheritable under German law?


By Katja Zimmermann


For most of us, the use of Facebook has become a daily matter of course. But have you ever asked yourself what will happen to your account after you have passed away?

The pivot of the Facebook case is the tragic death of a 15-year-old girl in Berlin. Although it is known that her death was caused by a fatal collision with a train in a local metro station, the exact circumstances surrounding her death could not be revealed to date. It is thus uncertain whether the collision was the result of an accident or suicide. On the quest for answers, her parents tried to access her Facebook page. Although they possessed the required log-in details, which their daughter provided them with in exchange for their permission to use Facebook, their log-in attempt proved unsuccessful. This was due to the fact that their daughter’s Facebook page had been memorialized by one of her Facebook friends. It should not be forgotten that access to the account is not only vital for the processing of the loss. Connected herewith is a claim of compensation for non-pecuniary damages and loss of salary that was put forward by the metro driver; a claim that is based on the assumption that the girl committed suicide and thus acted negligently towards him. Nevertheless, Facebook has rejected all requests by the parents to unlock the account. Therefore, the parents began court proceedings against Facebook to demand access to the account on the basis of succession law. The court was thus confronted with the question whether a Facebook account is inheritable.

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Comparative Legal History: It is Time to Speak of an Autonomous Discipline?


By Agustín Parise

Comparative legal history can be deemed an autonomous discipline, even when legal history and comparative law are its two interrelated building blocks. Already in the nineteenth century, Édouard Lambert acted both as a legal historian and as a comparatist in France; while, in Spain, Rafael Altamira advocated for the teaching of foreign history and comparative legislation. In Italy, since the second half of the twentieth century, Rodolfo Sacco has averred that “the comparative perspective is historical par excellence.” These bi-dimensional studies no longer belong exclusively to the domain of comparative law or legal history. Researchers who follow the comparative legal historical path can claim independence from the two building blocks.

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A Book on Legal Books at the Dawn of the Digital Age (and its Price)


By J. (Pim) Oosterhuis

Half a year ago, The Formation and Transmission of Western Legal Culture – 150 Books that Made the Law in the Age of Printing came out with Springer (, the fruit of an ambitious project on legal books in the age of printing. The appeal of the work is that it not only contains entries on 150 groundbreaking legal books, but also introductory essays placing developments in context. Three periods are distinguished, namely Law Books During the Transition from Late-Medieval to Early-Modern Legal Scholarship (chapter 2), Legal Books in the Early Modern Western World (chapter 3) and Law Books in the Modern Western World: Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries (chapter 4).

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Is there such a thing as ‘European Private Law’?


By Professor Jaap C. Hage

Is there such a thing as ‘European private law’? In my opinion there is not, just as there is no Dutch, French, English, or Chinese private law. Let me explain. Legal rules, including rules of private law, have many characteristics. They have a content, a scope, many of them were created by some agent, and many of them are applied and enforced by law-enforcing agents, with a prominent role for the judiciary. None of these characteristics can be used to classify some legal rules as rules of European private law.

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