“Of all my learned friends, Francis Mann is the most learned of all. Long ago, as a young man, he came from Germany. Since then he has become the head of an important firm of City solicitors: and at the same time the exponent in our literature of a wealth of legal knowledge.”

Lord Denning, The Due Process of Law (Oxford University Press 1980) at 4. 

This three-year, interdisciplinary project explores, documents, and critically assesses the considerable impact of Frederick Alexander (“Francis”) Mann on the development of English, German, European, and International Law in the 20th century. 

Mann’s impact ranges wide, so the project embraces several areas of law – all of which are highly topical today. Mann is also an important figure in the German-Jewish diaspora, and the study of his life and times will be an important contribution to German-Jewish studies.

Project Overview

A Remarkable Biography

F.A. Mann was born in 1907 in Frankenthal, pursued legal studies culminating in a doctor iuris in Berlin, left for London in 1933, and there became one of the most influential jurists of the 20th century.

Mann still looms larger than life in many branches of the law. Behind the reputation lies a fascinating biography and a complex character. Using new archival material, this project seeks a deeper understanding of Mann and of the times he lived in by combining biographical insights with historical network research and substantive legal contributions by current leaders in the fields Mann helped to shape.


The project is administered by the Humboldt-Universität Centre for British Studies.

The British Institute of International and Comparative Law and the Max Planck Institute for European Legal History are Cooperating Institutions. The project also enjoys a close association with the Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law and benefits from the support of the archival holdings of the Leo Baeck Institute for the Study of German-Jewish History and Culture – New York | Berlin.

The project team includes leading scholars in law, history, and economics, as well as legal practitioners and members of the judiciary.


Workshops and Conferences

The three-year project is structured around three annual events – Workshops in 2020 and 2021 and a larger Conference in 2022, where research findings will be communicated to a broader audience. Smaller events will also take place from time to time, so keep an eye on our blog, Legal Aspects, for news!


The impetus for this project came from the generous bequest of over ten thousand unpublished documents by Mann’s daughter in law, Anne Kriken Mann and by Mann’s former firm, Herbert Smith Freehills. The documents are chiefly correspondence between Mann and an impressive network of scholars, lawyers, judges, and clients, including many other notables of the German-Jewish diaspora.


Legal Aspects

Members of the project and guests blog regularly, sharing project-related activities, work-in-progress, and insights into various fields of law and legal history. In homage to Mann’s major work, we have dubbed this blog Legal Aspects, in the hope that it will shed light on varied legal aspects of life in the 20th century and today.

Legal aspects BLOG
The project is funded by a three-year grant from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG).
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