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General Idea

In the area of Comparative Law research traditionally is limited to a bilateral comparison usually centering on Western countries, whereas the Professorship for Transcultural Studies (Social Sciences) on the one hand employs a transcultural perspective to examine Western legal systems, especially Germany, as origin and model, compared to Eastern legal systems (Japan, South Korea and China) that since the late 19th century have been drawing upon and continue to heavily make use of these sources and modify them in their own unique way. On the other hand a multilateral approach is employed to study the inner-Asian interrelations and differences in their reception and transformation of foreign legal thought.

Long-term Research Focus: Tort Liability

In a long-term perspective the professorship focuses on tort liability (Deliktshaftung), i.e. liability that arises from certain actions that are disapproved by the law (unerlaubte Handlungen), regardless of contractual bindings between the parties. Regulations on tort liability play a major role in every jurisdiction, as they form a borderline between the (legally protected) general freedom to act and behavior that is most likely to cause harm to others. Therefore the respective rules of national law have to be adhered to by everyone, their limitation is absolute in contrast to contractual regulations that only are relatively binding on the parties involved. If a given border is overstepped, the damage done to the injured party usually is to be nullified by way of paying damages.

Tort liability is of special interest in the transcultural context between Europe and Asia not only because of the interference of differences (history, traditions, society, behavioral patterns) and commonalities (ubiquitous human nature, political steering interests), but particularly in regard to the development of East Asian Law and its connection to European Law. The legal systems of Japan, South Korea, China drew and still draw most heavily on German Law. However, for certain historical reasons at the heart of their rules on tort law from the start we find French Law, i.e. a very broad general clause. That is to say by now there has been a lot of refinement again mostly using German Law, while the rules on prerequisites and amount of damages were shaped looking at Anglo-American Common Law. To conclude, this “legal melting pot” poses enough questions to last a lifetime.

As often as possible, lectures and seminars make use of the results achieved in research and also contribute themselves again – not least to students´ input – to further research (see Teaching).


1. Principles and Dogmatics

One level of current research tackles principle or dogmatic topics like basic rules that all other regulations build upon, the relationship (delineation or diffusion) of statutory and contractual liability, the necessity of regulation or the cultural dependency of such norms.

Finished projects / publications

  • Beck´scher Online-Großkommentar Zivilrecht, hrsg. v. Gsell u.a., §§ 830, 840 (Tort Law), 2016, ca. 54 p.
  • Beck´scher Online-Kommentar BGB, Bamberger/Roth (ed.), § 823 BGB (Tort Law), ProdHaftG (Product Liability), 2016, ca. 411 p.
  • Schadensrecht - Systematik und neueste Rechtsprechung, JA 2015, p. 801-808
  • Haftung für vorvertragliche Aufklärungspflichtverletzung in Japan, RIW 2013, p. 44-54


  • Vorvertragliche Aufklärungspflichtverletzungen im Japanischen Recht (20.2.2016, Winter School zum Japanischen Recht, Universität Augsburg)
  • Von Gummi-Enten und Atomkraftwerken – Individuelle Ansprüche aus Gefährdungshaftung (26.8.2015, 16. Deutschsprachiger Japanologentag, Universität München)
  • Civil Law: Properties, Contracts & Torts (25.7.2015, Panelist beim US-Korea Law Foundation´s K-Law Day 2015, Irvine, USA)


2. Specific Liability

The other area within the framework of tort liability that current research focuses on can be described as the attempts of the lawmakers to deal with modernity as present in the environment, advanced technology, changes in lifestyle and society etc. As many actions by corporations or individuals cannot legally be prevented without turning back the wheel of progress, the law has least has to try to cushion unwanted side effects. This usually is being done by imposing a markedly strict liability (Gefährdungshaftung) on companies or persons whose legitimate actions are deemed to be especially dangerous, like for example driving a car, manufacturing potentially harmful goods as well as operating airplanes or nuclear reactors.

Work in progress

  • Beck´scher Online-Großkommentar Handels- und Gesellschaftsrecht, Henssler et al. (ed.), Montreal Convention (International Carriage by Air), est. 450 p., in preparation for 2018

Finished projects / publications

    • Beck´scher Online-Großkommentar Zivilrecht, Gsell et al. (ed.), §§ 33-54 LuftVG (Aviation Act, Liability of Air Carriers), 2016, ca. 110 p.
    • Collateral Damage – Produkthaftungsansprüche koreanischer Soldaten gegen US-amerikanische „Agent Orange“-Hersteller, RIW 2015, p. 169-179; abbreviated version in FAZ, April 28, 2015, p. 14: „Die Folgen von Agent Orange“
    • Verschuldensvermutung bei der Amtshaftung – Aufsichtspflicht von Kindergartenpersonal, NJW 2013, p. 1201-1203
    • Drittwirkung von BSE-Testpflichten – Amtshaftung für fehlerhafte Freigabe von nicht auf BSE getesteter Ware, NJW 2013, p. 571-573
    • Kapitalmarktrechtliche Haftung aus § 826 BGB, Ad Legendum 2011, p. 197-204
    • Der Schwarze Ritter – § 826 BGB im Gesellschaftsrecht, AcP 2009, p. 399-444


    • The Korean Case – Product Liability Approach to Compensate for Injuries by Agent Orange (29.6.2015, Conference „Toxic Legacies – Agent Orange as a Challenge“, Evangelische Akademie Tutzing)
    • Collateral Damage – Ersatzansprüche koreanischer Soldaten gegen US-amerikanische „Agent Orange“-Hersteller (27.5.2015, Antrittsvorlesung, Universität Heidelberg)

    Additional Projects involving Asian Law

    Work in progress

    • Rule of Law in China, in preparation for RIW 2016

    Finished projects / publications

    • Laws of Korea, 2nd Annotated Edition 2015, US-Korea Law Foundation (ed.), Co-Editor Civil and Commercial Law, ca. 800 p.
    • Review: Baum, Harald/Bälz, Moritz (Hrsg.): Handbuch des Japanischen Handels- und Wirtschaftsrechts, 2011 – ZJapR Nr. 31 (2011), p. 295-304
    • From information overflow to incapacitation – Comparing German and Japanese consumer protection, ZJapR Nr. 27 (2009), p. 169-181
    • Shingi seijitsu no gensoku – Das Prinzip von Treu und Glauben im japanischen Schuldrecht, RabelsZ 2009, p. 78-99
    • Die Dimension des Unternehmens – Ein Kapitel der deutschen und japanischen Rechtsgeschichte (Doctoral thesis), Tübingen 2003


    • Typisch Japanisch? (22.6.2016, NTT Data Office Opening, Frankfurt a.M.)
    • Religion und Verfassungsrecht in Japan (3.6.2016, Heidelberg-Tübinger Japanologen-Workshop: Religion und Kultur in Japan, Universität Heidelberg)
    • Arbeitszeit im internationalen Vergleich – Japan und China (25.2.2016, 2. Campus Arbeitsrecht, Universität Frankfurt a.M.)
    • Die forcierte Modernisierung der Rechtssysteme Ostasiens – Japan, Korea und China im Wettlauf mit dem Westen (18.2.2016, Deutsch-Japanische Studiengruppe der Reimers Stiftung, Bad Homburg)
    • Herrschaft des Rechts oder Recht der Herrschaft? – Traditionelles und modernes Rechtsverständnis in China (30.11.2015, China-Institut, IHK Frankfurt)
    • Reform des deutschen Verbraucherschutzrechts im Juni 2014 (19.4.2015, Ryukoku University, Kyoto, Japan)
    • Lost in Translation: Ambiguity of Legal Language between East and West (17.4.2015, 4th HeKKSaGOn University Presidents Meeting, Sendai, Japan)

    Full list of publications (on my personal website)