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6 Constitutionalisation of Private Law - the German Perspective

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Chapter Summary

The notion 'horizontal effect' deals with the question whether and how far human rights also have legal effect on private relations between citizens. In Germany this problem has only arisen since the coming into force of the West German Constitution in 1949. However, the preconditions for the controversies on the horizontal effects of fundamental rights in Germany developed much earlier, even as far back as the late 19th and certainly by the first half of the 20th century. The German legal discourse on horizontal effect is suffering from a trauma: fundamental rights of the constitution can influence relations among private parties. The source of this trauma can, in my opinion, be seen in the historical development of the relationship of civil and public law in Germany. German private law had and has difficulties in responding to the new challenges through constitutional law.

Keywords: constitutional law; fundamental rights; German legal discourse; human rights; private law



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