Project Overview

The aim of the project is to explore, document, and critically assess the considerable impact of F.A. Mann on the development of English, German, European, and International Law in the 20th century. Central to the project is the exploration of an extensive corpus of papers by a diverse range of experts.

The outputs of this project will include annual workshops, written outputs including scholarly articles, monographs, and an anthology, and development of the archive itself.

Workshops and Conferences

The project brings together a distinguished and diverse group including scholars, practitioners, and judges, with a common interest in Mann and expertise in Mann’s fields of impact. 

In the first instance, three annnual events are planned in 2020, 2021, and 2022, about which you can read more on the Events page. Other, smaller events will take place from time to time and these will appear in due course. 

If you are a graduate student or early to mid-career researcher, and would like to learn more about these events and how you might get involved, please reach out and let us know what you are working on!

Written Outputs 

Research undertaken in the project will result in five main types of written outputs:

  • An edited collection [Sammelband] that presents, for the first time, a comprehensive overview of Mann’s contribution to diverse fields of law;
  • A monograph on the law of money; 
  • A monograph on Mann’s biography and life in the law; and
  • A series of articles and other outputs on various aspects of Mann’s life and work.

We also hope that our regular blog posts in Legal Aspects will provide worthwhile impulses for further research.

Development of the Archive

Another important outcome from the project will be the development of the Mann Papers archive for posterity.

The Mann Papers have been digitised by the Humboldt University Archive with the generous support of Anne Kriken Mann. Through their work, project members will enrich this archive through the addition of metadata and development of connections between Mann and his network. We hope that this will also lead to the discovery of connections with other archives, for example those held by the Leo Baeck Institute for the Study of German-Jewish History and Culture – New York | Berlin.

Not least, the addition of metadata by project members will ensure that we leave an enriched corpus of documents for further research.

Mann worked across several areas of law, so the project has assembled experts in a wide range of legal disciplines to achieve a comprehensive overview. Leaders in each field have joined the project, and will make definitive contributions to the literature that not only describe Mann’s impact but also explain the context in which he worked and provide useful insights into current legal problems. 

The project combines two elements: The first is focussed on Mann, his biography, and a historical study of his network. The second is focussed on the substantive law. 


The Law of Money

The Legal Aspect of Money is undoubtedly Mann’s magnum opus, and remains a standard reference to this day. Contemporary reviewers credited Mann with establishing the study of the law of money as a field in England. Mann edited five editions of the book over the years 1938 to 1991. The Legal Aspect of Money therefore provides a diachronic view of how orthodox legal conceptions of money evolved – and failed to evolve – in response to sweeping changes in economic theory, institutional design, and technology. 

“It is the task of the jurist to define the requirements and consequences of a single currency… non-lawyers can only chatter about these things.” (F.A. Mann, Letter to Hugo Hahn, 25 April 1991)

Public International Law 

Mann was active in the field of public international law, working (and commenting on) a number of seminal cases in both England and on the Continent – for example concerning the recognition of the German Democratic Republic in Carl Zeiss. In particular Mann made high-impact contributions to the law of foreign relations, jurisdiction, state contracts, acts of state, state corporations and expropriation. 

Private International Law

Mann’s writings explore conflict of laws issues in many areas, in particular where they interact with his interests in public international law, monetary law, litigation and arbitration. This aspect of Mann’s work is less well-known in the Anglophone world, because most of Mann’s contributions to private international law were written in German.

The Transnationalisation of Law

With the boom in international commerce following WWII, voices started to be raised invoking special regulation for international commercial relationships. According to the traditional approach, each legal relationship is subject to a municipal legal order. Which law is applicable is determined by private international law rules. This approach came under critique for being too complex, for taking insufficient account of the will of the parties, and for leading to the application of municipal law which was assumed to be inadequate for transnational relationships. Some international conventions were developed to provide uniform regulation. Others callled for the development of transnational law, not emanating from any sovereign state and not based in public international legal instruments. F.A. Mann, given his rigorous systematic approach, stressed the importance of identifying the applicable sources of law and of their legal effects. 

The Law of Arbitration 

Arbitration became the preferred method to settle commercial disputes, particularly thanks to the 1958 New York Convention on the recognition and enforcement of foreign awards. The emergence of international arbitration inspired many to develop a novel approach: negating the relevance of national law and affirming its international dimension. F.A. Mann did not indulge this idealistic momentum, and kept a sober view, concentrating on the effectiveness of arbitration based on the applicable sources. Arbitration has become no less topical today, and technological changes (including online dispute resolution) adds new complexities to this field of study. 

German-Jewish Studies

Mann is significant for the German-Jewish studies in two respects. First, he is an important person in his own right and the study of his life as a “jurist uprooted” is a significant object of historical study. In this respect, his experience at the (then) Friedrich-Wilhelm University of Berlin is important, as is his reception (and perceived reception) in war-time England, and indeed his work on the de-Nazification of law in Germany after the end of WWII. Through studying Mann’s biography, we can understand a little more of the vibrant German-Jewish world that was so effectively destroyed in Germany in the 1930s. The Mann Papers are also significant as so many of Mann’s correspondents were fellow German-Jewish refugees.

Legal Biography

The project has identified several narrative strands that describe the life and work of F.A. Mann, which can – and sometimes do –  conflict with one another. This aspect of the project will actively interrogate the value and methods of biography, especially given the complexities of 20th century German-Jewish historiography. 

The Changing Legal Profession

The legal profession changed remarkably in the 20th century, and Mann was an important dramatis persona in this history, too. He is credited with transforming Herbert Smith into a modern litigation firm, and more generally with transforming the role of the solicitor in the litigation process itself. Mann also networked extensively with senior English judges and is credited as being among (if not the first) living author cited in an English opinion. As the legal profession is again undergoing epochal changes – now driven by technology including automation – taking stock of how we got to the present is more important than ever.

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