Wolfgang Hoffmann-Riem

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Wolfgang Hoffmann-Riem (born March 4, 1940 in Hanover ) is a German legal scholar and former judge of the Federal Constitutional Court .


Wolfgang Hoffmann-Riem was born into a family of teachers. He had four siblings, one of whom died very young. After graduating from the Walddörfer-Gymnasium in Hamburg , he studied law with a minor in economics at the universities of Hamburg , Freiburg im Breisgau , Munich and Berkeley . In Berkeley, he obtained a Master of Laws (LL.M.) degree . He passed his first state examination in 1964 and received his doctorate in law in 1968. After the 2nd state examination in 1970, he worked as a lawyer until 1974. After his habilitation in Hamburg (1974), he accepted a professorship for public law and administrative sciences in the Faculty of Law II, the then one-stage legal training at the University of Hamburg. From 1977 to 1979 he was spokesman for the Law Department II. He turned down calls to the universities of Hanover , Frankfurt am Main and Berlin (FU) .

From 1979 to 1995 he was director and from July 1998 to December 1999 chairman of the newly created board of directors of the Hans Bredow Institute . Since his appointment as judge of the Federal Constitutional Court, he has been an honorary member of the board of directors. 1981–1983 he was chairman of the Association for Legal Sociology, 1989–1992 of the German Society for Journalism and Communication Studies (DGPuK). In 1988 he became director of the Environmental Law Research Center at the University of Hamburg and from 1996 to 2012 he was also director of the Law and Innovation Research Center (Center for Research in Law and Innovation CERI) at this university. From 1995 to 1997 he was Hamburg Senator for Justice in the Senate Voscherau III . During this time he also chaired the legal committee of the German Federal Council . Between 1999 and 2008 Hoffmann-Riem was a member of the First Senate of the Federal Constitutional Court . In 2007 he was appointed a German member of the European Commission for Democracy through Law ( Venice Commission of the Council of Europe ) by the Federal Government . In 2019 he left at his own request. In 2009/10 Hoffmann-Riem was a fellow at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin . Hoffmann-Riem has been Professor of Law and Innovation at the Bucerius Law School in Hamburg since mid-2012 .

Scientific focus

Hoffmann-Riem aims to overcome the understanding of jurisprudence as a science of interpretation that is only oriented towards textual norms and to redesign it as a problem-solving science of action and decision-making ("New Administrative Law Science"), based on control theory. He is concerned with highlighting and strengthening the problem-solving capacity of the legal system and thus the contribution of law to overcoming social and individual problems, especially as a means of solving specific conflicts. According to Hoffmann-Riem, this requires insights into the interplay between norms and social reality - above all, observance of the real area of ​​norms - and into the effects of legal forms of action that also have transdisciplinary and interdisciplinary access to social , economic and Natural sciences are to be obtained.

Hoffmann-Riem has given practical expression to this basic understanding in the course of his various professional stations and fields of activity. For example, he took part in the development of a reformed, one-stage legal training program ( reformed legal training ), which aimed at a stronger link between theoretical training and practical training and aimed at interdisciplinarity . Through various advice to governments, parliaments and organizations as well as participation in various commissions, he sought cooperation with practice. At the same time, he has taken up insights from other legal systems through several research and teaching stays abroad (including in Stanford, Berkeley, Harvard and Melbourne). For him, one focus of the analysis of the difficulties and possibilities of legal regulation was the media sector, which since the 1980s has provided rich illustrative material for the interplay between legal and social, technological , due to the considerable technological changes ( cable , satellite , digitization , internet ) and accompanying market upheavals , economic and political developments. Since 2010 he has increasingly turned to the regulatory challenges associated with digital transformation.

Also, the environmental law served him as an example of field-depth insights into the - in the literature variously as "crisis" titled - problems of traditional government regulation and the need for new regulatory approaches. Here he was primarily concerned with the interaction between state and private actors (cooperation administrative law) and in particular the question of what kind of law is required if the state largely transfers its fulfillment responsibility to private individuals, but should continue to guarantee the realization of public interest goals. The term “ regulated self-regulation ” he coined tries to capture the tension.

Since the beginning of the 1990s he initiated a systematic discussion among scholars and practitioners about the necessities and possibilities for reforming administrative law ("New Administrative Law Science "). He won the Heidelberg professor Eberhard Schmidt-Aßmann as co-initiator . This discussion is documented in ten volumes of the publications on the reform of administrative law ( Nomos-Verlag ). From this reform discussion arose - also with Schmidt-Aßmann and additionally with Andreas Vosskuhle as editor - a systematically arranged handbook Fundamentals of Administrative Law , the three volumes of which were published by Beck Verlag. 50 other authors worked on these volumes. The edited new edition was also published by Beck Verlag in 2012 and 2013.

Since the mid-1990s, Hoffmann-Riem has been calling for legal innovation research to be established as a new sub-discipline of law (see also the publications on legal innovation research published by Nomos-Verlag (since 1998) and the four published by Duncker & Humblot , together with Martin Eifert edited volumes of the series “Innovation and Law”, 2008–2011). In 2016 he published a fundamental, inter- and intradisciplinary monograph “Innovation and Law - Law and Innovation. Law in the ensemble of its contexts ”. Here Hoffmann-Riem asks how law influences the development and implementation of social and technical innovations and how it seeks to ensure that the consequences are desired individually and by society as a whole (ensuring “innovation openness and innovation responsibility”). The diversity of approaches and the limits of the law to enable, stimulate, tolerate or even prevent right-wing and right-wing innovations are analyzed. The importance of the extra-legal contexts for the establishment and application of law is worked out. The rationality of the law must be understood and secured in relation to the context.

As Hamburg Senator for Justice, he designed and initiated a fundamental reform of the Hamburg justice administration, known as “Justice 2000” and also becoming a model for other federal states. He was one of the supporters of the Charter of Fundamental Digital Rights of the European Union , which was published at the end of November 2016.

Judge at the Federal Constitutional Court

In 1999 the non-party scientist Hoffmann-Riem was elected judge of the Federal Constitutional Court (First Senate) by the Federal Council on the proposal of the SPD . His department included the right to freedom of expression, freedom of broadcasting and the press , the right to freedom of assembly , general personal rights , data protection law and competition law . Many of the decisions he prepared as a reporter on freedom of assembly and on the relationship between freedom and security in times of threats from terrorists after the attacks of September 11, 2001 (such as the decisions on the " Great bugging attack ", for wiretapping under the Foreign Trade Act), attracted public attention preventive telephone monitoring according to police law, for raster searches , for online searches , for automated registration of the license plate and for data retention ). Without failing to recognize the necessity of state risk prevention and defense, the court insisted on compliance with the rule of law guarantees and the limitation of state authorizations even in the run-up to dangers, taking into account the principle of proportionality and the requirement of certainty as well as compliance with procedural safeguards. In these decisions (the online search is an example), the court also dealt in detail with the current technological changes, which Hoffmann-Riem has long been interested in. On April 2, 2008, he resigned as a judge at the Federal Constitutional Court.


Hoffmann-Riem has been awarded the Great Cross of Merit with Star and Shoulder Ribbon , which was awarded to him by the Federal President in 2008 . He is also the recipient of the Emil von Sauer Prize .


A complete list of publications can be found on the Bucerius Law School website (see below).

A selection of essential writings has been republished in two edited volumes:

  • Change in the media order. Reactions from media law, media politics and media studies. Selected treatises. Nomos, Baden-Baden 2009, ISBN 978-3-8329-5152-8 .
  • Open law. Selected publications and accompanying analyzes. Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen 2010, ISBN 978-3-16-150352-8 .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ LTO: Hoffmann-Riem: Venice Commission is not a court. Retrieved November 11, 2019 .
  2. Bucerius Law School newsletter - June 2012 , accessed on June 16, 2012.
  3. Andreas Voßkuhle: How do you practice law openly? in: Wolfgang Hoffmann-Riem, Open Law, Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, 2010 pp. 153–173 ";" Ino Augsberg , Explanations, in: Ino Augsberg, Sebastian Unger (eds.), Basic Texts: Fundamental Rights Theory, Nomos, Baden-Baden , 2012, pp. 342-344 ".
  4. ↑ The initiators of the charter, accessed on June 1, 2020.
  5. ^ Federal Constitutional Court - Press - Judges of the Federal Constitutional Court a. D. Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Hoffmann-Riem is celebrating his 70th birthday. Retrieved May 24, 2020 .