Prof. Dr. Klaus Peter Berger, LL.M.

Research

Banking and Finance
Banking and finance have become buzzwords whose exact contours have become difficult to define. This legal field ranges from problems of general contract law and general terms and conditions law to specific issues of banking and finance, as well as banking supervision law. It also extends to issues of general corporate and bankruptcy law. The research is focused on both specific problems of national and international banking and finance, as well as interrelations of these fields with other basic legal subjects.

International Contract Law
International contract law covers the entire range of international contract theory and practice, from the negotiation of contracts to their implementation in commercial practice and the interpretation of individual contractual clauses by domestic courts or international arbitral tribunals.
Both individually negotiated contracts and model contracts, customary in international practice, as well as general terms and conditions that are particularly common in international trade are examined in this research area. The aim is to determine and develop the uniform structures of international contract law, as expressed, for example, in the UNIDROIT Principles for International Commercial Contracts, which were first published in 1994.  

Alternative Dispute Resolution; International Commercial Arbitration
Alternative dispute resolution (ADR), especially international commercial arbitration, serves to settle disputes arising from international commercial contracts. In practice, more than 90% of major international commercial contracts contain an arbitration clause. Reasons for this are both the long duration and high cost of proceedings before domestic courts, and the special expertise of arbitrators and the confidentiality of arbitration proceedings. The interactive multimedia handbook on international arbitration and ADR published by the chairholder and its project-website are updated and monitored in this research area. Additionally, all legal problems related to alternative dispute resolution (ADR), such as mediation, are explored here. The Cologne Summer Academies, attended each year by law students, trainee lawyers and junior lawyers from all over the world, provide an insight into the practice of arbitration and ADR.
Here you can find more information on the research focus “Alternative Dispute Resolution in National and International Banking and Finance”.

Transnational Commercial Law
It is argued that in the Middle Ages, the Lex Mercatoria was the merchants’ unified commercial law. Even today international commerce is said to create its own law by the repeated use of general terms and conditions, international model contracts, the case law of international arbitral tribunals and the sets of rules issued by the International Chamber of Commerce in Paris (ICC) and other formulating agencies, thus creating a New Lex Mercatoria. In this research area, the viability of this view is examined by validating the theoretical foundations of the thesis that international merchants are able to set their own law. Moreover, however, the potential practical application of the theory of Lex Mercatoria is also examined. In this context, the concept of “Creeping Codification” is applied, i.e. the compilation of general legal principles of international trade in the form of a systematic online list which is constantly updated by a research team at the Institute (www.trans-lex.org).

International Uniform Law
In view of the convergence of world markets, the question of the standardisation of substantive commercial law at both European and global level is becoming increasingly important. International uniform law creates a level legal playing field for economic entities operating across borders. In this way, the uncertainties of private international law are avoided. At the same time, transaction costs are reduced. The research focus lies on the various formulating agencies promoting the creation of a uniform law worldwide. Furthermore, the different manifestations of uniform law as well as modern currents concerning the informal “codification” of uniform legal structures of the international economy are examined. There are close interrelations with the chairholder’s research focus on International Contract Law and Comparative Law.

Comparative Law
Comparative law is not understood as an end in itself. Rather, the comparative law method fulfils three purposes. First, it provides the methodological foundation for the study of international contract law and the theory of a transnational commercial law, the New Lex Mercatoria. Second, comparative law is used as a means to better understand one’s own domestic law. Third, comparative law meets the practical purpose of preparing for studying or working abroad.

Domestic Contract Law, Corporate Law etc.  
In the area of domestic contract law, the focus of the chairholder’s research lies on the area of complex long-term contracts (eg research and development contracts, plant construction contracts), general terms and conditions law, and the broad field of banking contract law. The annotation of general terms and conditions law in the Prütting/Wegen/Weinreich BGB commentary as well as of money loan agreement law (§§ 488-490) in the Münchener Kommentar on the BGB is published in connection with this research area.

Soft Skills for Lawyers
In the course of the adaptation of degree programs to the so-called Bologna criteria, universities are called upon to make employability of their students one of their primary qualification objectives. The learning and practicing of job- and subject-related soft skills plays an important role in guaranteeing the students’ future employability. These are personality-forming and social abilities and skills that go beyond subject-specific legal qualifications. They include rhetorics, negotiation techniques, client interviewing, witness hearings, intercultural communication and alternative methods of dispute resolution. Each semester, CENTRAL is offering an extensive program of soft skills in close cooperation with legal practitioners.