Law in action

The legal fact research examines the actual appearance and realization forms of law in social life. This branch of law often uses the methods of empirical social research.

The applications of this research are manifold and affect almost all areas of life. Their findings provide an orientation for the right policy.

Originally rightly facts those facts meant "behind the standards " which are, those forms in which the law in social practice is actually brought to manifestation. The newer sociology of law has taken up this term.


The legal fact research arose from the assertion of a distance between legal theory and social reality. The law was perceived as alienated social reality and should be more closely tied to the rapidly changing social circumstances.

Specifically, the term was introduced in the early 20th century by the criticism of a lawyer at the Law Teaching: Arthur Nussbaum published his programmatic book on the legal fact research in 1914, and thus carries a reform project for the university education of lawyers before. Nussbaum knows the 1913 published the foundation of the Sociology of Law of the Austrian jurist Eugen Ehrlich and formulated the legal fact research clearly discerned - not as an empirical base - the sociology of law, not as a separate discipline, but on the one hand as a recourse to facts to enliven, deepen and enrich the existing syllabus, other hand, for the recovery of fertile problems for the individual scientific work within the law.

Legal facts

What makes the concept difficult to access from the beginning, is the fact that it is used by several contemporaries in the same central importance. Eugen Ehrlich describes as the legal facts in his foundation of the sociology of law about four main types (Chapter V., the foundation of the sociology of law ) of facts, namely exercise, dominion, ownership and declaration of intent. Thus, the legal facts Ehrlich are about the " social a priori " by Georg Simmel closer than the empirically to be examined phenomena that are always assigned to the legal fact research for editing since the mid-20th century.

Despite the attempted here dogmatic position, the core of the legal fact research is a fairly simple. It includes the study of the actual conditions of the legal reality, eg:

  • Exploration of the duration of processes
  • Influence of lobbyists in the legislative process
  • Number of abortions, etc.

The legal fact research can provide only factual material, which can represent the legal and political decision-making aid. The necessary decisions can not be replaced but by the legal fact research.


As a legal fact research today is very heterogeneous research approaches are referred to. The term has been used in recent decades as a little biased term for very different research projects in the discursive field of legal theory and legal sociology. Some references:

  • The Institute for Legal Research at the University of Konstanz fact "has the task of carrying out research projects, which are intended to show the actual fundamentals, effects and deviations from targets of existing and proposed regulations and their causes. Here, the entity makes the experience of practice in the law-making and law application available through institutionalized cooperation with scientific working practitioners. "
  • The Institute of Law Research Heidelberg fact " accompanied financed by the Foundation ProJustitia research projects. The Institute supports the Foundation in the development of legal policy opinions on the basis of the research results obtained. In addition, it evaluates in cooperation with the Foundation ProJustitia from the numerous submissions of those affected by judicial action. In the future, the Heidelberg Institute for Legal Research fact eV will perform at regular intervals also interviews with investigators, judges and lawyers to take up as early possible irregularities can. "
  • The publishing house Duncker & Humblot publishes a series of publications for legal sociology and factual research, the thematic range gives an overview of the diversity of confrontation with the legal facts.
  • At the Institute of Civil Law at the University of Innsbruck found since 2007 under the title " legal fact research - Today " regular meetings held on current developments and research results. In the same year, the series was " Innsbruck contributions to the legal fact research " was founded, in the far, the conference volume published in 2007. Volumes two and three of this series will appear in the fall of 2009 and be " legal fact research - Today " presented at the 3rd Conference on 17 December 2009 in Innsbruck.
  • The Institute was founded in 2005 for legal fact research for German and European Company Law of the Friedrich -Schiller- University Jena deals with quite actual issues in the areas of corporate and capital market law (eg company law, limited liability company law, takeover law ). Be investigated ( in the context of contract research for third parties ) the effects of existing / revised legal framework on the German and European corporate landscape. For this purpose, inter alia, survey studies are conducted and evaluated data sources such as the commercial register and the Electronic Federal Gazette. Under the heading company law in figures appear regularly posts of the Institute in the journal The joint stock company. On the website of the research facility data ( limited liability) shall be monthly for the dissemination of the introduced November 1, 2008 GmbH variant entrepreneurial society. So far, empirical research projects on forced expulsions of minority shareholders to manifestations of unlisted public companies to disseminate the third participation in Germany or on the impact of MoMiG for example, were carried out.