Walther HugDie Problematik des Wirtschaftsrechts

Walther Hug, Die Problematik des Wirtschaftsrechts, Rektoratsrede von Dr. iur. et sc. jur. Walther Hug, St. Gallen 1939.


The following essay is rendered from speech by Walther Hug that was held on University Day, 19 November 1938, on the occasion of the adoption of the rectorate of the University of St. Gallen (HSG).

The text was published on the date of the anniversary celebration of the University of St. Gallen, 13 May 1939. As one of the oldest independent business Universities, the school celebrated the accomplishment of forty years of activity and the entry into force of the new Law on Higher Education at the same time.


In this essay (originally provided in the form of a speech), Prof. Dr. Walther Hug addresses issues of economic law from a legal point of view.

In the first part of the essay, Prof. Hug describes the problems of the new economic law, which arise from the fact that new legal provisions and institutions are not created in conjunction with the traditional civil law regulations of economic life. They therefore call for scientific assessment and must be linked and contextualized in a synthesis with the previous law.

In the second part, Prof. Hug explains the first challenge economic law presents for jurisprudence: the collection and dogmatic review of the entire legal material as it can be found in an immense multiplicity of laws, federal decrees, federal council decisions, regulations and orders. For Prof. Hug, it is solely the dogmatic review that can point out the legal structure of the new legal institutions and its relationship to traditional law.

The dogmatic review of this new legal substance and its comparison with established law allows for the solution of a second task: the terminological and methodical assessment of economic law. To define the substantive economic law and isolate it from the remaining legislation, Prof. Hug follows a concrete theory and understands economic law as a sum of legal principles, which regulate companies and their activities.

The last part of the essay deals with legal policy issues of economic law. According to Prof. Hug, the task of legal policy must be left neither to the fight of conflicting interests nor to the legislator’s word of command. In order to prevent contradictions or a lack of precision, the task can only be resolved properly by jurisprudence. He concludes that the legislator and science (while forming the new economic law) need to establish an inner equilibrium between civil- and public law, to find the balance between individual and collective interests and to therewith establish an appropriate relationship between freedom and commitment. Nevertheless, this is nothing else than organizing the economy in accordance with the idea of justice as it is expressed in a famous saying of Roman jurists: “Justitia est constans et perpetua voluntas ius suum cuique tribuens.”


You can find a scan (PDF) of the original text here: Hug Walther – Die Problematik des Wirtschaftsrechts