On September 28, 2022, the German-Chinese Legal Cooperation Program of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH on behalf of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) organized an online workshop on “Codification and the Legal System” in cooperation with the Legal Labor Commission of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress of the People’s Republic of China.
Legal systems worldwide are facing the challenge that, as a result of technical progress, issues that are becoming increasingly difficult must be regulated by law. A possible solution here is codification, i.e. the systematically ordered comprehensive regulation of a legal area. This instrument has a long tradition in Germany. There, the Civil Code, but also the Criminal Code and the Social Code are prominent examples of codifications. But there are also such codifications in China, e.g. the Civil Code that came into force in 2021.
Technical progress, but above all political and social developments, also require the permanent review and, if necessary, the modernization and adjustment of the applicable law.
The online workshop offered the opportunity to give the Chinese participants an overview on the German legal system, to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of codifications and to present examples of the legal regulation of new complex issues.
The event was opened by Dr. Marco Haase, Head of the German-Chinese Legal Cooperation Program, and Ms. Jia Hongmei, Head of the General Office of the Legal Work Commission of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress.
Then Prof. Dr. Winfried Kluth from the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg presented a report on the German legal system with its distinction between public law and private law, on codifications with their advantages and disadvantages as well as on the adjustment and modernization of the law.
Following this, Prof. Dr. Dr Eric Hilgendorf from the Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg presented two current examples of legislative projects, on the one hand the currently discussed draft of an EU regulation on artificial intelligence, on the other hand the German law on autonomous driving, which has been in force since July 2021.
The two contributions led to the following, lively discussion and question and answer session. Here, among other things, the questions were discussed, which difficulties can arise in the comprehensive regulation of a legal area through codifications, how the legislature can take into account changes in the competence of authorities, whether too far-reaching legal regulation and the associated official control prevent technical progress and what constitutional limits there are in Germany when using artificial intelligence.
At the end of the event, Ms. Jia Hongmei expressed the interest of the Legal Working Commission in continuing Sino-German cooperation in the field of law enactment. The German-Chinese legal cooperation program will continue to support and promote this cooperation.