The emergence of European private law constitutes one of the most significant developments in the modern legal landscape. Driven by the European Union, a political programme of harmonization has begun to reshape the national private laws of Member States. Successful legal reform depends on a solid foundation of understanding European private law in its entirety, including its historical development and the comparative law dimension. The Max Planck Encyclopedia of European Private Law provides such a foundation. The existing knowledge in many areas ofEuropean private law is presently available only through relatively inaccessible specialized literature; some areas are completely lacking systematic legal research. The Encyclopedia systematically gathers the available information at all different levels and in all various branches of private lawand gives an overview on all major areas of European private law. The Encyclopedia consists of approximately 500 entries in alphabetical order. Each entry covers the subject matter with regard to its legal history, the comparative law dimension and unification projects - where they exist. Abibliography at the end of each entry provides an overview of the most important publications for further reading.The Encyclopedia will be an essential reference point for all those working on European law and private law within Europe.