Bertram Lomfeld at Freie Universität Berlin Receives ERC Starting Grant

German legal scholar celebrates his first ERC grant

No 153/2020 from Sep 07, 2020

Professor Bertram Lomfeld, a legal scholar at Freie Universität Berlin, has received a Starting Grant from the European Research Council (ERC). This grant is worth up to 1.5 million euros allocated over a period of five years. The European Research Council funds groundbreaking projects submitted by early-career researchers through the ERC Starting Grant program. The objective of Professor Lomfeld’s project, "Resolvency - A Global Theory of Reflexive Debt (Deliberation)," is to redefine the concept of debt as a sustainable, socio-economic medium.

Professor Bertram Lomfeld, a legal scholar at Freie Universität Berlin, has received a Starting Grant from the European Research Council (ERC). This grant is worth up to 1.5 million euros allocated over a period of five years. The European Research Council funds groundbreaking projects submitted by early-career researchers through the ERC Starting Grant program. The objective of Professor Lomfeld’s project, "Resolvency - A Global Theory of Reflexive Debt (Deliberation)," is to redefine the concept of debt as a sustainable, socio-economic medium.

According to Professor Lomfeld, modern economic and financial systems are built on the institution of debt. However, if debt is treated as a purely economic entity it supports the idea of infinite growth. "Interest loans can only be repaid if we work under the assumption that economic growth exists perpetually," he explains. "This means that debt gives rise to increasing economic, political, cultural, and above all ecological overexploitation in the Anthropocene." The researchers involved in the project want to understand the legal parameters of this aspect of the political economy across all groups of debtors - from companies, to consumers, to states - and develop alternatives from the perspective of comparative law.

Insolvency law is considered one of the primary legal means of institutionalizing debt, along with contract law. In the event of insolvency, creditors ultimately receive a mere fraction of the money owed. Insolvency law thus defines the limits of debt. Lomfeld suggests that political, cultural, and ecological values must be increasingly factored into thinking about debt. Moreover, he calls for a more holistic approach with what he calls "resolvency law" - a democratic, reflexive mechanism that he wants to incorporate into a socio-political renegotiation of debt. The legal scholar plans to develop his research through a global perspective that utilizes both qualitative and quantitative methods from comparative law to build on his previous research into the discursive moral and legal grammar of fundamental value judgments in society. In addition, the project will model and experiment with legal designs related to debt deliberation procedures, as well as conduct empirical analyses of their effects on the credit and financial markets. As part of this project, Professor Lomfeld hopes to establish a new approach to critical legal economics that uses the paradigm of debt to question the basic tenets of economics and outline alternatives within the framework of international economic law.

Prof. Bertram Lomfeld
Department of Law, Freie Universität Berlin
Email: bertram.lomfeld@fu-berlin.de


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