Nobody is allowed to be a judge in their own case: This principle, which was clearly demonstrated by Kleist’s comedy “The Broken Jug”, was once again forgotten by the historical school of law. Klaus Maria Brandauer played the village judge Adam in Peter Stein’s 2010 production at the Berliner Ensemble.
Image: Jim Rocket
Self-assurance and the promotion of young talent: legal history is looking for its own future in Zurich. What about German as a scientific language?
Dhe scholar in the judgment seat was considered by many scholars in the nineteenth century to be the epitome of a functioning legal practice. In a time without comprehensive state legislation, the judge should know the roots of the law right back to antiquity and at the same time be convinced with a Christian-childlike sense of the revelation of legal truth beyond mere interpretation and system formation. The Historical School of Law, which shaped German jurisprudence with famous personalities, formulated ideals that, in retrospect, all too easily served as a model up to the recent past. Against mere quibbles and craftsmanship stood the scientist, who did not allow himself to be overwhelmed by the mass of material and the casuistry, but confidently kept track of the tangle of sources.
In a brilliant lecture at the well-attended 43rd Legal Historians’ Day in Zurich, Hans-Peter Haferkamp (Cologne) showed how foreign the way of thinking of the historical legal school has become in our time. The scholars of the time placed little value on separation of powers, let alone democracy, openly professed the religious fanaticism that followed the revivalist movement, and when push came to shove, relied more on their sense of justice than on binding dogmatics. Legal certainty is unlikely to have been achieved in this way. As a result of modern historical research, the heyday of German jurisprudence loses its role model character. What is left, what will take its place?
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