Otto Hahn Group on Alternative and Informal Systems of Crime Control and Criminal Justice

In the period 2015-2017, the Department of Criminal Law at the Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International Criminal Law succeeded in laying the foundation for a second Otto Hahn Award: the president of the Max Planck Society, Prof. Dr. Martin Stratmann, presented senior researcher Dr. Em­man­ouil Bil­lis with both the Otto Hahn Medal and the Otto Hahn Award 2016 in the Human Sciences Section. As part of the first phase of the Otto Hahn Award programme, Dr. Bil­lis is currently a visiting scholar at the University of Athens (Greece), Queen Mary University of London (Great Britain), University of Oxford (Great Britain), and the University of Tromsø (Norway). His focus as a guest lecturer is on comparative criminal law. His status as a visiting scholar enables him to conduct research on the foundations and special characteristics of a variety of criminal law systems in different legal orders. Key issues of his research are the meaning of the general term “penal conflict” and specific questions in criminal law and criminal procedure, such as types of out-of-court conflict resolution.

Simultaneously, Dr. Bil­lis is preparing the second phase of the Otto Hahn Award program. As head of a research group, he is responsible for designing his own research concept and establishing his own research team. The group will study new types of alternative and informal methods of conflict resolution in various criminal justice systems.

The typical trial-centred systems of criminal justice are approaching their functional and logistical limits. This in turn increases the significance, in practice, of procedural mechanisms and legal institutions aimed at improving criminal justice administration, specifically in terms of procedural economy and statistical results. At the same time, there is evidently a growing need for a holistic, normative, abstract, and theoretical examination of modern forms of administrative and discretionary case disposal, alternative types of conflict resolution (including mediation and plea bargaining), informal soft law and compliance programmes as procedural mechanisms in economic crime cases, as well as other types of procedure designed to shorten, simplify, and potentially avoid conventional criminal investigations and trials.

As such, the comparative research conducted by Dr. Bil­lis and his Otto Hahn Group will address crucial questions of relevance today and will explore issues that dovetail with the Institute’s research programme, namely, the functional limits of criminal law, the new methods of social control, and the effects of developments in these areas on security law.