Empirical Research about Law: The German Picture with Comparisons and Observations

01 Jan 1983

While studying current legal developments in West Germany during the summer of 1979, the author became convinced that the most important development in German law in the past two decades was the movement toward empirical research about law. This research is often referred to by German jurists as fact research in law. During the intervening years, the author has been able to trace dome major developments of this movement.

The principal aim of this article is to furnish information to the American legal community about social-fact research in law resulting from the German experience. Discussion of Germany's experience is appropriate because the movement originated largely in Germany and because the majority of German research is aimed directly at law reform. This article outlines the German origins of the legal social-fact research movement and briefly notes the corresponding American research for purposes of comparison and contrast. It concludes with additional observations and comments on current issues, some of which are controversial.