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When one comes before a court, how can the chances of success be assessed? In this video, CHRISTOPH ENGEL considers the impact of the makeup of the German Constitutional Court (in terms of the panel of justices presiding) on a plaintiff’s prospects. Focusing on the effect of the justices’ familiarity with one another both before and after recompositions of the court, Engel identifies a positive relationship between such familiarity and a plaintiff’s prospect of success. Noting that the strength of this relationship differs for different outcomes (e.g. success on the merits v procedural requests), Engel’s work opens a path for further research on political bias as well as on the data published by the German Constitutional Court.


Christoph Engel is Director of the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods (Bonn, Germany) and has held teaching positions at several universities, including the position of Chair for Experimental Law and Economics at Erasmus University Law School in Rotterdam, Netherlands. He is also an Honorary Professor of the University of Osnabrück, Germany. His research focus includes Behavioral and Experimental Law and Economics.
Engel has been serving as a member of several advisory boards, including the Academic Board to the German Minister of Economics and Labor, and is a member of the Academia Europaea.


Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods

Initially founded as a Max Planck institute that investigates the provision of collective goods, the ­institute has developed into an international hub that focuses in its research mainly on applied economics and on behavioral law. Moreover, the institute hosts three independent research groups on “moral courage”, “economic cognition”, and “mechanisms of normative change”. The set of researchers from various disciplines, such as economics, law, psychology, and sociology, constitutes a truly interdisciplinary environment that facilitates a cross-fertilization of ideas. 

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Original publication

Lucky You: Your Case is Heard by a Seasoned Panel-Panel Effects in the German Constitutional Court

Engel Christoph
Published in 2021