* Co-funded by the Göttingen Association for Comparative and International Criminal Law and Criminal Justice and the Fritz Thyssen Foundation

Professor Kai Ambos has initiated a project on the foundational principles and concepts of Anglo-German Criminal Law and Justice. The project participants come from Germanic and Anglo-American jurisdictions, and have been carefully selected to reflect a diversity of backgrounds with either a more theoretical/normative or a more empirical focus. All are distinguished international scholars. The general editor of the project is Prof. Kai Ambos, the editorial committee consists of Prof. Antony Duff (University of Stirling), Prof. Julian Roberts (University of Oxford) and Prof. Thomas Weigend (University of Cologne).

Criminal law and criminal justice is becoming increasingly globalised. The era in which individual jurisdictions developed their own codes, statutes and systems of justice with little regard to other systems and countries is long over. In its place there is a growing desire to develop common approaches to common problems and to learn from the diversity of current practice in differ-ent countries. That development, however, requires a thorough, systematic, multi-jurisdictional comparative analysis, of a kind that has not been provided by recent and existing comparative projects—which are still relatively infrequent, and typically focus on a specific topic or issue. The aim of such a systematic analysis would be to see whether it is possible to articulate a common grammar or set of foundational concepts that could ground productive trans-jurisdictional discussion and progress. This project will explore that possibility.

At present, attempts at trans-jurisdictional debate and agreement are too often beset by mutual misunderstanding. Although English is the new lingua franca in international and comparative criminal law (as well as in international criminal justice institutions), there are many ambiguities and uncertainties with regard to foundational criminal law concepts. The principal reason for this is that they do not exclusively originate from the English-speaking common law world but are to a great extent taken from the civil law jurisdictions of France, Germany and Italy. As a result, the application of these concepts in English – by and within international institutions and even in academic discourse – is often ambiguous or even misleading. Professionals working in these or-ganisations and academics engaged in collaborative comparative (criminal) law projects often do not understand each other, using the same terms with different meanings or different terms mean-ing the same. There is no consensual common language. One of the purposes of the current project is to see whether it is possible to develop such a common grammar for fundamental concepts. If such a grammar can be developed, this will facilitate and enhance collaborative, cross-jurisdictional exchanges, leading to comparative and theoretical insights.

To make the project manageable, it will initially focus on the Germanic (Germany, Austria, Switzerland) and principal Anglo-American jurisdictions (England and Wales, Scotland, the USA, and Canada), to establish whether they share a set of foundational concepts. In a second phase, we may extend the inquiry beyond these jurisdictions, to broaden the basis of our findings, and may include further civil law jurisdictions (particularly France, Italy, and Spain as well as Scandinavian countries); further, we will have to consider looking beyond Europe and North America—to Africa, to China, to Japan and Latin America. The method of analysis is comparative (multi-jurisdictional), analytical and empirical, with an initial focus—as noted above—on Germanic and Anglo-American jurisdictions.

The project group has already met to conduct a project ‘scoping’ meeting in Cambridge (in July 2016), followed by meetings in Göttingen (March 2017), Oxford (September 2017), Frankfurt am Main (April 2018), Edinburgh (September 2018), Zürich (April 2019), and Rutgers, New Jersey (September 2019). Due to COVID-19, the Group held its first virtual meeting in December 2020. The next meeting is planned for Berlin, Freie Universität (14-15 January 2022), follwed by: Falmer, Sussex (29-30 July 2022), Marburg (Spring 2023) and Belfast (Autumn 2023). The intention is to mount two meetings each year, alternating between Germany and the UK/Ireland/USA.

Given the multijurisdictional and multidisciplinary approach of the project, we aim at having co-authored papers for different topics on Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure and Criminal Justice, with authors from different jurisdictions as well as theoretical and empirical backgrounds. The editorial committee, consisting of the General Editor, the Domain Editors and the Advisor, will take the final decision on publication of a paper. As to publications, Cambridge University Press agreed to publish the scholarly output of the project. The first Volume of the Core Concepts has been published at the beginning of 2020. Volume II is planned for 2021. Further volumes will follow, we envisage the publication of three volumes in total at this stage, published in a one-year-interval.

Rules of Engagement

Core Concepts in Criminal Law and Criminal Justice

Volume 1: Anglo-German Dialogues

Published January 2020

ISBN 9781108483391

Cambridge University Press Shop

Review by David Prendergast

Review by Miriam Gur-Aye


General Editor

Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Kai Ambos (Georg-August-University of Göttingen)

Domain Editors

Criminal Law: Prof. Antony Duff (University of Stirling/ University of Edinburgh)

Criminal Procedure: Prof. Dr. Thomas Weigend (University of Cologne)

Criminal Justice: Prof. Julian Roberts (University of Oxford)

Dr. Alexander Heinze, LL.M. (TCD) (Georg-August-University of Göttingen)


Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Kai Ambos (Georg-August-University of Göttingen)

Prof. Dr. Stefanie Bock (Philipps-University Marburg)

Prof. Sir Anthony Bottoms (University of Cambridge)

Jun.-Prof. Dr. Dominik Brodowski, LL.M. (UPenn) (Universität des Saarlandes)

Prof. Dr. Christoph Burchard, LL.M. (NYU) (Goethe-University Frankfurt a.M.)

Prof. Vincent Chiao (University of Toronto)

Dr. Alessandro Corda (Queen's University Belfast)

Dr. Andrew Cornford (University of Edinburgh)

Dr. Antje du Bois-Pedain (University of Cambridge)

Dr. Matthew Dyson (University of Oxford)

Prof. Richard Frase (University of Minnesota)

Prof. Shannon Fyfe (George Mason University, Fairfax, VA)

Prof. Dr. Sabine Gless (University of Basel)

Prof. Stuart P. Green (Rutgers Law School)

Prof. Dr. Stefan Harrendorf (Ernst Moritz Arndt University of Greifswald)

Dr. Alexander Heinze, LL.M. (TCD) (Georg-August-University of Göttingen)

Prof. Dr. Katrin Höffler (Georg-August-University of Göttingen)

Prof. Dr. Tatjana Hörnle (Max Planck Institute for the Study of Crime, Security and Law and Freiburg, Humboldt University of Berlin)

Prof. Dr. Elisa Hoven (University of Leipzig)

Prof. John Jackson (University of Nottingham)

Prof. Neha Jain (European University Institute, Florence)

Prof. Dr. Johannes Kaspar (University of Augsburg)

Dr. Kyriakos Kotsoglou (Northumbria Law School)

Prof. Máximo Langer (UCLA, California)

Prof. Youngjae Lee (Fordham University)

Prof. Arlie Loughnan (University of Sydney)

Prof. Sandra Marshall (University of Sterling)

Prof. Dr. Frank Meyer (University of Zürich)

Prof. Dr. Carsten Momsen (FU Berlin)

Prof. Thomas O’Malley (NUI Galway)

Nicola Padfield (University of Cambridge)

Dr. Anneke Petzsche, MSc (Oxford) (Humboldt University of Berlin)

Prof. Julian Roberts (University of Oxford)

Prof. Paul Roberts (University of Nottingham)

Prof. Jacqueline Ross (University of Illinois)

Prof. Robert Schehr (Northern Arizona University)

Dr. Findlay Stark (University of Cambridge)

Prof. Dr. Carl Friedrich Stuckenberg (University of Bonn)

Prof. Stephen C. Thaman (Saint Louis University)

Prof. Malcolm Thorburn (University of Toronto)  

Prof. Jenia Iontcheva Turner (SMU Dedman School of Law)

Prof. Richard Vogler (University of Sussex)

Prof. Alec Walen (Rutgers)

Prof. Dr. Thomas Weigend (University of Cologne)

Prof. Dr. Bettina Weißer (University of Cologne)

Prof. Lucia Zedner (University of Oxford)

Prof. Dirk Van Zyl Smit (University of Nottingham)


List of Topics



I. Cambridge, 18 July 2016

Scoping Meeting


II. Göttingen, 27/28 March 2017

Participation (outline)
Antje du Bois-Pedain (Cambridge); Commentator Stefanie Bock (Marburg)

Normative Pluralism/structure (Codification, common law, general/special part, general principles etc.) (outline)
Matthew Dyson (Oxford); Commentator Paul Roberts (Nottingham)

Crimes of endangerment
Antony Duff (Stirling); Commentator Christoph Burchard (Frankfurt)

Sexual Crimes
Thomas O’Malley (Galway); Commentator Carl-Friedrich Stuckenberg (Bonn)

Charges (accusation, indictment)
Thomas Weigend (Köln); Commentator Neha Jain (Minnesota)

Criminal history enhancements at sentencing
Julian Roberts (Oxford); Commentator Stefan Harrendorf (Greifswald)

Action and omission (conduct)
Kai Ambos (Göttingen); Commentator Alec Walen (Rutgers)


III. Oxford, 18/19 September 2017

Structure in Criminal Legal Reasoning
Frank Meyer (Zürich)/ Matthew Dyson (Oxford)

Constitutional Criminal Law
Malcolm Thorburn (Toronto)/ Christoph Burchard (Frankfurt am Main)

Preparatory Offences
Findlay Stark (Cambridge)/ Stefanie Bock (Marburg)

Proportionality of Punishment/ Sentencing
Richard Frase (Minnesota); Commentators: Tom O'Malley (Galway)/ Carsten Momsen (Berlin)

Negotiated Justice
Jenia Turner (SMU Dedman School of Law, Dallas, Texas); Commentator Kai Ambos (Göttingen)

Due Process
Lucia Zedner (Oxford); Commentator Carl-Friedrich Stuckenberg (Bonn)

Concepts and Taxonomies of Criminal Procedure
Paul Roberts (Nottingham); Commentator Thomas Weigend (Köln)


IV. Frankfurt am Main, 5/6 April 2018

Prosecutorial Discretion
Alexander Heinze (Göttingen)/ Shannon Fyfe (Vanderbilt)

Coercion (General, Coercive/ Investigative Measures)
Richard Vogler (Sussex)/ N.N.

Terrorist Offences
Andrew Cornford (Edinburgh)/ Anneke Petzsche (Berlin)

Admissibility/ non-use, exclusion of evidence
Stephen Thaman (Saint Louis)

Criminal History Enhancements at Sentencing
Stefan Harrendorf (Greifswald), complementing Julian Roberts' paper

Proportionality of Punishment/ Sentencing
Carsten Momsen (Berlin)/ Lisa Washington (Berlin), complementing Richard Frase's paper

Consent in Sexual Crimes
Tom O'Malley (Galway)/ Elisa Hoven (Köln)




V. Edinburgh, 1/2 September 2018

The Origins of Civil and Common Law in Comparative Criminal Justice
Máximo Langer (UCLA, California); Commentator: Thomas Weigend (Köln)

Antje du Bois-Pedain (Cambridge); Commentator: Stuart Green (Rutgers)

Implementation of Sentences
Nicola Padfield (Cambridge)

Responsibility for Outcomes (Causation/ Imputation)
Bettina Weißer (Köln)/ Alec Walen (Rutgers); Commentator: Matt Dyson (Oxford)

Crimes of Endangerment
Tatjana Hörnle (Humboldt University of Berlin)/ Antony Duff (Stirling); Commentator: Sabine Gless (Basel)




VI. Zürch, 4/5 April 2019

See programme here

VII. Rutgers, New Jersey, 8/9 September 2019

See programme here


VIII. Virtual Meeting, 18 December 2020

Arrest and Coercion
Richard Vogler (Sussex, Dominik Brodowski (Saarbrücken); Commentators: Weigend (Köln), P. Roberts (Nottingham)

IX. FU Berlin, 14-15 January 2022

X. Falmer, Sussex, 29-30 July  2022

XI. Marburg, Spring 2023

XII. Belfast, Autumn 2023

Core Concepts in Criminal Law and Criminal Justice

Volume 1: Anglo-German Dialogues

Published January 2020

ISBN 9781108483391

Cambridge University Press Shop