Offene Verfassung und institutionalisierter Eigentumsdualismus
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As opposed to German Private Law, the constitutional protection of property (including intellectual property) in the German Basic Law (Grundgesetz) is based on a fairly restrictive legal concept, requiring rights previously conferred by statutory acts. Especially with regard to comparable constitutional regimes, this twofold order might appear to many observers to be an incoherent or formalistic anachronism. This paper argues in favor of the opposite position. The dualism of property established under German Basic Law by an institutional task sharing enables the respective courts to apply methodologies that are adequate to their task: either as civil law court in civil law matters or as constitutional court in constitutional matters. It enables, for example, the civil courts to create »quasi-property«, thus complying with the necessities raised by private disputes without at the same time binding the legislator. At the outset, this institutional setting should be read in the light of the division of powers. However, since property in human rights contexts is not the same as in private economic disputes, it furthermore provides an eminent function as a tool to meet the different rationalities required by different contexts. This dualism is obviously a typical by-product of a double-structure established by constitutional and supreme courts. Therefore, this paper also compares the German experience with the strategies applied by »unitary« supreme courts such as the U.S. Supreme Court and the Court of Justice of the European Union, and validates the observations by considering the European Court of Human Rights as a third model. The comparison shows that basically every court within any constitutional environment needs to tackle the central problem of property: the requirement of a high degree of public consent. The various courts are challenged by this multidimensional problem of property. Among all pros and cons, the strategy established by the Grundgesetz has the advantage to distinguish the human rights questions from mere economic issues already on a conceptional level. While other legal orders and their respective court system found their own ways to deal with this problem, the virtues of a property dualism approach may be even more obvious in future European multi-level property disputes. Der Schutz vermögenswerter Positionen unterliegt nach deutschem Recht einer – auch im internationalen Vergleich – durchaus bemerkenswerten Spreizung zwischen Verfassungsrecht und einfachem Recht. Der Beitrag zeigt, dass man den institutionalisierten Eigentumsdualismus deutscher Provenienz als kluge Strategie im Umgang mit den unterschiedlichen Funktionen des Vermögensschutzes verstehen kann – ein Effekt, der durch materielles Grundrechtsdenken bisweilen unterschlagen, im Vergleich zu alternativen Strategien vergleichbarer Ordnungen aber deutlicher wird.