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”Law for Sale” one of the Law Books of the Year 2019

“Law for Sale” by  Dr. Johanna Stark, a Senior Research Fellow at the MPI for Tax Law and Public Finance, is on this year’s list of the ”Law Books of the Year” published in Germany’s most read legal weekly magazine “Neue Juristische Wochenschrift”.

In her monograph, Johanna Stark deals with “regulatory competition”, a phenomenon that accompanies the dramatically increased mobility of people and capital in the wake of globalisation and digitisation. Individuals and companies are increasingly able to choose between different legal systems, and thus influence which legal norms shall apply to their company, their contract, their marriage or their insolvency proceedings. As a result, states increasingly see themselves as producers of legal rules competing for the favour of mobile consumers. Law thereby has become a good that is itself subject to the market mechanism and thus the dynamics of supply and demand.  

In her philosophical analysis, Stark shows “impressively that the assumption that the better law ultimately prevails in the international interplay of supply and demand for regulation is in a multifaceted tension with our notions of democracy, of legitimate state rule and, ultimately, law itself. These notions are not rooted in the utilitarian world of thought from which the idea of legal competition originates,” Prof. Dr. Reinhard Zimmermann writes in the “Neue Juristische Wochenschrift” [translated from the German original]. Anyone who does not shy away from English-language publications should consider reading this “intense, pleasantly slim book on a subject that will command a good deal of attention in the age of globalisation”.

How the reading recommendations are selected
For more than 20 years, a group of legal scholars have agreed every year on a list of books “worth reading for every lawyer” and have published their list in “Neue Juristische Wochenschrift” (NJW). In this year’s issue, Prof. Dr. Reinhard Zimmermann points out that he and his colleagues do not aspire to the role of a jury in a competition for the year’s best law books as the number of legal works published year after year in Germany is too large and unmanageable. Rather, each member of the group names two books that he or she noticed in the course of the previous year from the vast literature that was systematically combed through or read in the own working context.

More on "Law for Sale".

This year’s list comprises five books in German and recommends five law books from abroad.


Best Law Books of 2019

Johanna Stark, Law for Sale: A Philosophical Critique of Regulatory Competition, Oxford University Press, 2019, xiv + 224 pages

Michael Dreyer, Hugo Preuß: Biographie eines Demokraten, Franz Steiner, 2018, xxv + 513 pages

Jens Hacke, Existenzkrise der Demokratie: Zur politischen Theorie des Liberalismus in der Zwischenkriegszeit, Suhrkamp Taschenbuch, 2018, 455 pages

Bernd Mertens, Gönner, Feuerbach, Savigny, Mohr Siebeck, 2018, xi + 173 pages

Martin Würfel, Das Reichsjustizprüfungsamt, Mohr Siebeck, 2019, xiv + 228 pages

Reading recommendations from abroad

William A. Schabas, The Trial of the Kaiser, Oxford University Press, 2018, 410 pages

Bruce W. Frier (general editor), The Codex of Justinian: A New Annotated Translation, with Parallel Latin and Greek Text, Bde. 1–3, Cambridge University Press, 2016, clxxxvi + 376 pages

Michelle le Roux/Dennis Davis, Lawfare: Judging Politics in South Africa, Jonathan Ball Publishers, Johannesburg/Cape Town, 2019, xv + 351 pages

Derek van der Merwe, Brown v Leyds – Who has the King’s Voice?, LexisNexis,
Durban/Johannesburg/Cape Town, 2017, xi + 381 pages

Colm Peter McGrath, The Development of Medical Liability in Germany, 1800–1945, Studien zur europäischen Rechtsgeschichte, Vittorio Klostermann, 2019, x + 262 pages