Christian J. MeierÜber Entwicklung, Begriff und Aufgaben des Wirtschaftsrechts

Christian J. Meier, Über Entwicklung, Begriff und Aufgaben des Wirtschaftsrechts, eine Skizze zum aktuellen Stand der Wirtschaftsrechtsdiskussionin: ZSR – Zeitschrift für Schweizerisches Recht, neue Folge Band 101, 1. Halbband, 1982, p. 267-312.

Summary

In this essay, Prof. Dr. Christian J. Meier provides an overview and an outlook on the current status of the economic law discussion.

The first part of the essay consists of a historical retrospect on the development of economic law, drawing upon examples from Germany and Switzerland. With regard to Germany, Prof. Meier places the “birth hour” of German economic law in the industrial age of the 19th century. Those were the times in which the doctrines of classical liberalism were being confronted; ultimately, they crystallized into a comprehensive, theoretically funded, economic policy approach. The history of Swiss economic law also has its roots in the liberal doctrines’ dispute on the normative anchoring. These doctrines scored a first success with the Swiss Federal Constitution of 1848. One of the conclusions that Prof. Meier draws after his brief overview of the history of German and Swiss economic law is “that the creation of the term economic law is obviously linked to the fact that the economy has been made explicitly a matter of state policy”. Therewith, he also draws a bridge between economic law and economic policy. Economic policy tries, “in view of the changing relationships between state and economy, to newly develop (to date) disparate regulatory areas and, therewith, to initiate adaptation measures in the law.”

In the second part of the essay, the author outlines single notions that arise from the diversity of opinions surrounding the term “economic law”. Prof. Meier comes to the conclusion that the attempts that have been made to capture economic law as a closed concept have proven to be unfruitful. Hence, currently, in the field of academic research, a defined concept of economic law that enjoys consensus does not seem to be in sight. If a closed definition cannot be reached, this could lead to an open interpretation of economic law subject to a waiver of a sharp normative demarcation.

The last paragraph in the essay is dedicated to the question of whether such an open, respectively pragmatic, concept would still allow for consideration of economic law as a “stand-alone” system. Modern academic theory regards “concept explications” as justified if they are academically productive and/or they resemble the “explicandum”. According to Meier, this premise for the legitimation of an economic law concept is fulfilled. Notably, the special functions of economic law (which Meier enumerates in his conclusion) justify its existence as a “stand-alone” legal system.

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