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School of Law

Professor Ralf Michaels, LLM (Cantab.), Dr. iur. (Passau)


Global Law Professor

Telephone: +494041900451
Room Number: Mile End Campus


Ralf Michaels is Director at the Max Planck Institute for Comparative and International Private Law in Hamburg, Germany, Chair in Global Law at Queen Mary University in London, and Professor of Law at Hamburg University. At Queen Mary, he is a member of the Centre for Law and Society in a Global Context and teaches both in the undergraduate program (Global Legal Reasoning) and in the graduate program (Comparative Law Methodology). Until 2019 he was the Arthur Larson Professor at Duke University School of Law; he has also been a visiting professor at the Universities of Paris II Panthéon-Assas, Princeton, Pennsylvania, Toronto, and Tel Aviv, as well as the London School of Economics. Michaels holds an LLM from Cambridge University and a PhD in Law from Passau University. He is a widely published scholar of private international law, comparative law, and legal theory; his current research focuses on decolonial comparative law, regulatory conflicts, and theoretical foundations of private international law and global legal plurality. Michaels is a member of the Academia Europaea, the American Law Institute, the International Association of Comparative Law, and the Comparative Law Associations of the United States, Germany, and France.


  • A Concept of Laws: This research project aims at the formulation of a proper new understanding of global law which is one and many at the same time. Law is defined not by some objective criteria but instead is based on the recognition by other laws. This requires the conceptualization of so-called rules of external recognition as tertiary rules.
  • Foundations of Private International Law: In this research project, private international law is expanded towards a general theory of private international law. One subproject, with Prof. Ruiz Abou-Nigh (Edinburgh), tries to determine, based on interviews with scholars around the world, whether there are any common structures in the field, and tries to lay those out. Two other projects look at interdisciplinarity: an essay collection on philosophical foundations of private international law (with Michael Green and Roxana Banu) and a cross-teaching project on feminism and private international law (with Ivana Isailovic). Further projects look at the use of private international law outside of state private laws – nonstate laws (based on lectures given at the Hague Academy in 2015) and regulatory laws, as well as the relevance of private international law for the UN Sustainability Goals 2030 (with Verónica Ruiz Abou-Nigm and Hans van Loon).
  • Decolonial Comparative Law: Contemporary comparative law is characterize by its origins in Western modernity. As a consequence, it has difficulties conceptualizing and accounting for non-Western laws. One part of the project, called postsecular comparative law, aims at developing an adequate method of comparative law for religious laws. Another part, developed jointly with Lena Salaymeh (Hamburg) uses decolonial theory to develop a new epistemology of comparative law. In addition, the project should lead to two textbooks: one that surveys and systematizes existing comparative law methods, another that presents a forwardlooking method that is decolonial in nature.


Download Professor Ralf Michaels full CV [PDF 222KB]
Visit Professor Michaels' SSRN page.

Work in Progress

  • Reasonableness in Extraterritorial Application of Federal Law (with Hannah Buxbaum)
  • Nonstate Law in Private International Law (Hague Lectures)
  • Transnational Law and Comparative Law
  • From State to Contract – Microcredit as Privatized Law Reform (with Corinne Blalock)
  • Decolonial Comparative Law (with Lena Salaymeh)
  • Postsecular Comparative Law
  • PILL-Private International Law for Laymen (with Verónica Ruiz Abou-Nigm)
  • Is Private International Law International? (with Verónica Ruiz Abou-Nigm)
  • Transnational Ordre Public
  • Arbitration as Non-State Law
  • Equality and Private International Law


Global Legal Theory, Private International Law, Comparative Law

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