Research group for Legal Culture
Publications and projects

Key publications and projects

Over the past ten years, the members of the research group have published a wide range of projects, edited books, textbooks and thesis's, on topics related to legal culture, legal history and comparative law. In addition, several members, alone or jointly, have published articles in recognized journals, both nationally and internationally.

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Main content

These excellent publications have contributed to establish legal cultural studies as a separate discipline in Norway and have had an important impact on the international discourse on the topic. Almost all publications are a result of collaborations between two or more members of the research group.

Research projects

Recycling Medieval Law

An interdisciplinery research project with Department of Linguistic, Literary and Aesthetic Studies.

Interdisciplinary research project on Hanseatic Court Records from the Hanseatic Office in Bergen

The research project is an interdisciplinary collaboration between the state archives in Lübeck, Hanseatic Museum in Bergen, the Faculty of Humanities and the Faculty of Law.

Early modern forms of Global Governance – New perspectives on the intellectual and institutional structures of the Hanseatic League

The research project is a collaborative project including the University of Bergen, the University of Innlandet, the University of Lund, the University of Tartu, Universität Hamburg and Georg-August-Universität Göttingen.

Cycle Ius Commune at Borders: Borders of Ius Commune

Interdisciplinary PhD-seminar on Compilation and Authority (in cooperation with ATTR)

Previous research projects

Nordic and Germanic Legal Methods – A Legal Comparative Analysis 2012-2014.

The project is funded by the Meltzer-fondet, FU-UiB, E-On Ruhrgas and Deutsch-Nordischer Juristenbund. The project was in the running for Juristforbundets prize in 2015. Contributers: Ingvill Helland, Johan Bouch, Sören Koch, Dag Michalsen, Hans Peter Haferkamp, Jørn Øyrehagen Sunde, og flere andre.

The project also resulted in the book Nordic and Germanic Legal Methods written by Ingvill Helland and Sören Koch.

Fordom og forventning: ei handbok i rettshistorisk metode.

Written by Jørn Øyrehagen Sunde.

Grunnloven i skjæringspunktet mellom erfaring og visjon

Retten og det norske - Rettslig grunnlag for fremveksten av en norsk identitet mellom 1814 og 2014

Høyesteretts historie frem til 2015


The group's most recent collaboration project is the book Comparing Legal Cultures, which has become the leading textbook on comparative law in Norway. Due to its universal approach and comprehensive and coherent presentation of 15 legal cultures, this book is increasingly used internationally as well. Nine of the group's members contributed to the book with their unique knowledge on particular legal cultures such as Norway, Germany, England & Wales and Italy (See also Hva er rettskulturell kunnskap – og hvorfor jurister trenger det?). In 2019 the members of the research group contributed with 6 articles and a volume of 130 pages to the liber amicorum in honor of the 50th anniversary of the law faculty.

Marius Mikkel Kjølstad (eds.). Frederik Stangs naturrett

Frederik Stangs naturrett
Pax Forlag.

By Marius Mikkel Kjølstad, in 2023.

Frederik Stang was one of the most central political figures in Norway in the 19th century, primarily as a minister for almost 30 years. What did Stang think society should look like? His lectures on natural law from 1830 to 1831 give us a good insight. In this book, the lectures are published in a transcribed version. We learn what Stang thought about, among other things, philosophy, the essence of man, the task of the court, property, contracts, marriage and family, punishment, the purpose of the state, distribution of power and democracy. The lectures shed new light on his thinking, but also on the natural law tradition in Norway and the way historians have portrayed Stang afterwards. In the introduction, the book's editor Marius Mikkel Kjølstad argues for a new understanding of the lectures.

Frederik Stang (1808–1884) was a docent and lecturer in jurisprudence from 1830 to 1834. He published a state law book in 1833, which for several decades stood as the leading interpretation of the Constitution. As a minister, he carried out important reform work in many areas of society. Stang helped to strengthen the government's political position, and in 1873 he became the first prime minister in Norway after the office of governor was removed.

For more information see the publisher's website.

Jørn Øyrehagen Sunde and Brage Thunestvedt Hatløy. Eidsivatinget. Den norske tingtradisjonen gjennom 1000 år

Cover eidsivatinget
Cappelen Damm Akademisk

By Jørn Øyrehagen Sunde and Brage Thunestvedt Hatløy, from 2022.

Jørn Øyrehagen Sunde and Brage Thunestvedt Hatløy have written a book about 'Eidsivatinget. The Norwegian ting tradition over 1000 years', which was published by Cappelen Damm Akademisk in 2022.

According to the saga, the Eidsivatinget was set at Eidsvoll in the year 1022 by Olav 2 Haraldsson, better known as Olav the Holy. The Eidsivating was one of four lagting in Norway, and was held at Eidsvoll until 1620. The Norwegian lagting from the Middle Ages were abolished in 1797, but re-established in 1887, and Eidsivating has since then been one of the Norwegian courts of appeal.

Is there a connection between the medieval ting to the modern lagting in Norway today? The question is explored in this book through a number of contributions which together cover 1,000 years of Norwegian legal history. The ting tradition is carried on from the early Middle Ages until it becomes a central part of the Norwegian governance system in the High Middle Ages. It retained its position for several hundred years and was then seriously demolished from the 17th and especially in the 18th century. From 1814, the ting tradition slowly experienced a renaissance, but with quite different functions and forms than in the Middle Ages. In the face of a digital everyday life, new changes will come, and the history of the ting tradition can play a role in the design of the ting's future.

For more information see here.

Giertsen et al. Rett i Vest: Festskrift til 50-årsjubileet for juristutdanningen i Bergen

Rett i Vest
Rett i Vest

Rett i Vest was published in honor of the Faculty of Law's 50th anniversary. Members of the research group contributed with six articles and a volume of 130 pages.

Eirik Holmøyvik and Dag Michalsen. Lærebok i statsforfatningshistorie

Lærebok i forfatningshistorie
Lærebok i forfatningshistorie

By Eirik Holmøyvik and Dag Michalsen, in 2015.

The purpose of the book is to provide law students with an insight in Norwegian constitutional history, but can be read by anyone who wants an insight into Norwegian constitutional history. The book is funded on research on constitutional history. 

The textbook on constitutional history provides a thorough introduction to Norwegian constitutional history from 1814 to the present day. An important ambition is to present the Norwegian constitutional development in the light of international contexts and tendencies. The starting point is the modern constitution and its emergence around 1800 on the basis of natural law and the constitutional theories of the Enlightenment. The Norwegian constitution of 1814 was part of this international constitutional movement. In the book, the creation and content of the Constitution is explained historically and comparatively. The Norwegian constitutional development after 1814 is illuminated through the Constitution's amendments and changing interpretations in key areas such as the distribution of power and state sovereignty, the political and constitutional consequences of the union with Sweden between 1814 and 1905, the rise and development of the courts' right to review laws and the Constitution's importance in times of crisis and state of emergency.

More information can be found on the publishers website.

Eirik Holmøyvik. Maktfordeling og 1814

Maktfordeling og 1814
Maktfordeling og 1814

By Eirik Holmøyvik, from 2012.

Maktfordeling og 1814 deals with the principle of distribution of power, and explains how it became a key principle in constitutional law from the late 1700. 

More information can be found here.

Sören Koch, Leidulf Melve, Anna Elisa Tryti. Eigedom og Historie 

Fagbokforlaget 2024 (Ongoing).
More information will follow.




Naturrett i Norge ca. 1814–1840. Også en historie - by Marius Mikkel Kjølstad, in Tidsskrift for Rettsvitenskap, p. 3-89.

Da pensum var håndskrevet - by Marius Mikkel Kjølstad, in Juridika Innsikt 24. August 2023.

Legal Culture - diversity and structure - by Sören Koch and Marius Mikkel Kjølstad, in Springer Handbook for Legal Cultures 2023. 

Vi holder på med å bøte noe på de fleste lovbøker i landet - by Brage Thunestvedt Hatløy, Prologen til Landslovain Landslova av 1274. Rett, politikk og samfunn i norsk høgmellomalder, Dreyer Forlag A/S 2023.

Livet er et uavhendelig godeNorsk regulering av medvirkning til selvvalgt livsavslutning i lys av internasjonale utviklinger - by Sören Koch, in Tidskrift for Rettsvitenskap 2023 (ongoing).

How to teach comparative lawA new approach based on interactive learning-strategies - by Sören Koch, in Rabel Journal for Comparative Law 2023 (ongoing).


Ingunn Elstad: Tvangsevakueringa - by Jørn Wangensten Ruud, in Historisk tidsskrift 2022, p. 375-378.

"Eg går med på det tingmennene kallar lov" - Tingets rolle i Magnus Lagabøters landslov av 1274 - by Brage Thunestvedt Hatløy, in Eidsivatinget: Den norske tingtradisjonen gjennom 1000 år, by Jørn Øyrehagen Sunde abd Brage Thunestvedt Hatløy (red.), Cappelen Damm 2022.

Pluralistische Governance: Die Erforschung hansischer Kooperation jenseits von klassischen Staatskonzepten - by Sören Koch, Ulla Kypta and Johann Ruben Leiss, in Hansische Geschichtsblätter, Callidus 2022.

National Laws and Contract Interpretation - by Yuliya Chernykh, in Contract Interpretation in Investment Treaty Arbitratrion 2022, p. 73-110.

Male offenders and convicted females: Sexual crimes and infanticide in Norway during the 17th and 18th century - by Siri Elisabeth Bernssen, in Rechtskultur - Zeitschrift für Europäische Rechtsgeschichte 2020, p. 29-48.

Ulv og bjørn i norsk natur – ein rettsleg regulert konflikt i over 1000 år - by Siri Elisabeth Bernssen, in Lov og Rett 2020, p. 521-534.


Natural Law and the struggle with pietism in eighteenth-century Denmark-Norway - Ludvig Holberg (1684-1754) - by Sören Koch, in Law and The Christian Tradition in Scandinavia. The Writings of Great Nordic Jurists, Routledge 2021.

Konfliktlösung in West-Skandinavien - by Sören Koch, in Konfliktlösung in der Frühen Neuzeit, Handbuch zur Geschichte der Konfliktlösung in Europa 2021.


Grotius’s Impact on the Scandinavian Theory of Contract Law - by Sören Koch, Grotiana 2020.

Pant i norsk mellomalder - by Brage Thunestvedt Hatløy, in Lov og lovgivning i middelalderen, Nasjonalbiblioteket 2020.

The Enlightenment - by Sören Koch and Kristjan Mejrup, in Law and The Christian Tradition in Scandinavia. The Writings of Great Nordic Jurists, Routledge 2020.

Norway - by Anine Kierulf and Marius Mikkel Kjølstad, in 2019 Global Review of Constitutional Law, ICONnect and the Clough Center for the study of Constitutional Democracy, Boston College 2020, p. 254-258. 

Anne Larsdatter. Det døde barnet ved Fjell kirke - by Siri Elisabeth Bernssen, in Lokalhistorisk magasin 2020 (1), p. 20-24.

Seksuelle overgrep mot barn i norsk rettshistorie - by Siri Elisabeth Bernssen, in Slekt og data 2020. 


2019 Den 'moderne resepsjonen' - Internasjonaliseringen i undervisning og forskning mellom 1969 og 2003 - by Sören Koch, in Rett i Vest. Festskrift til 50-årsjubileet for jurist-utdanningen ved Universitetet i Bergen, Fagbokforlaget 2019, p. 59-79.

2019 Komparativ mellomalderrett - Eit døme på rettshistorisk komparativ metode- by Brage Thunestvedt Hatløy, in Fordom og forventning, Akademisk Publisering 2019, p. 123-142.

2019 Dei første jusstudentane i Bergen - by Brage Thunestvedt Hatløy, in Rett i Vest. Festskrift til 50-årsjubileet for jurist-utdanningen ved Universitetet i Bergen, Fagbokforlaget 2019, p. [31]-40.

2019 Det rettsvitenskaplige kloster - by Marius Mikkel Kjølstad, in Rett i Vest. Festskrift til 50-årsjubileet for jurist-utdanningen ved Universitetet i Bergen, Fagbokforlaget 2019, p. 41-58.

2019 Transkriberte tingbøker som utgangspunkt for rettshistorisk forsking - by Siri Elisabeth Bernssen, in Fordom og forventning: Ei handbok i rettshistorisk metode, Akademisk Publisering 2019, p. 165-183. 

2018 Besovede Qvindfolks Børn som døde findis: Relasjonelt og sosialt utgangspunkt for barnedrapstiltalte i Hordaland 1642–1799. Barnedrap og skjulte barnefødslar på 1600- og 1700-talet - by Siri Elisabeth Bernssen, in Heimen - Lokal og regional historie 2018, Volum 55.(1), p. 62-77

2018 Courts of Appeal in Norway - by Sören Koch, in Suum Cuique Tribuere. Legal Contexts, Judicial Archetypes and Deep-Structures regarding Courts of Appeal and Judiciaries from Early Modern to Late Modern Europe, Institutet för Rättshistorisk Forskning 2018.

2017 Precedents in the 21st century: the evolution of case law in the Norwegian Supreme Court 1970-2016 - by Morten Nadim, Universitet i Bergen 2017.

2017 Liability Assessments and Criminal Responsibility in Norwegian Legal History - by Siri Elisabeth Bernssen, in Bergen Journal of Criminal Law & Criminal Justice2017, p. 59-76.

2017 Peter Høilund: Naturret som samfundskritik - by Sören Koch, in Tidsskrift for Rettsvitenskap 2017, Volum 130, p. 115-121.

2016 Jus naturae methodo scientifica pertractatum (Natural Law considered according to the Scientific Method) 1740-1748 Christian Freiherr VON WOLFF (1679-1754) - av Sören Koch, i The Formation and Transmission of Western Legal Culture. Books that made the Law in the Western World, Springer Publishing Company 2016.

2016 Løfte og aksept - Naturrettens innflytelse på fortolkningen av NL 5-1-1 og 5-1-2 på 1700-tallet - by Sören Koch, in Tidsskrift for rettsvitenskap 2016, Volum 129, p. 337-371.

2015 En naturlig rettsorden for det dansk-norske kongeriket – en rettshistorisk analyse av Ludvig Holbergs lærebok i natur- og folkerett - by Sören Koch, Universitetet i Bergen 2015.

2015 Consequences of changing expectations to law and its institutions Illustrated by the role and background of judges in Norway - by Sören Koch, in Legal History Review 2015.


Ongoing projects

Axel Hjo. Nordic styles of constitutional preview – different institutions, similar conversations? 

Axel Hjo is writing a Ph.D-thesis (2022–2026) on constitutional preview of parliamentary decisions in the Nordic countries.

Aurora Laugerud. The development of criminal culpability and evidentiary assessment in the 17th and 18th centuries

Aurora Laugerud is a Ph.D-candidate in the history of criminal law and started on her thesis in 2023.

Tarjei Ellingsen Røsvoll. Rules on delegation in Norwegian administrative law

Tarjei Ellingsen Røsvoll is writing a thesis on the rules on delegation of public authority in Norwegian administrative law. A central part of this thesis consists in understanding the development of the rules on delegation as part of the establishment of modern administrative law, and thus how the role of these rules have changed. The overarching aim is to understand the rules of today, partly through an analysis of the historical conditions for their emergence.

Marit Ellingsen Tjelmeland. Judgments in Scandinavia - A comparative study of how three precedent courts justify the outcome in civil cases

Marit Ellingsen Tjelmeland is a research fellow at the University of Bergen.

Finished projects

Siri Elisabeth Bernssen. Children as victims of sexual abuse

Siri Elisabeth Berntsen submitted her thesis in 2023 and is now a guest lecturer at the University of Bergen. The main theme of her Ph.D-project was sexual intercourse with children during the history of Norwegian criminal law. Through investigations of both judicial and extrajudicial sources, the thesis not only provides a representation of how the law has changed, but also discusses why this development has occurred. In addition to a legal historical presentation, one of the main purposes was to identify and contribute to greater understanding and knowledge of the basic values and normative concepts of which the current criminal law regulation of sexual intercourse with children is a product.

The Ph.D. project was started in June 2019 and was affiliated with Research group for Family and Children Law, Succession Law and Law of PersonsResearch group for Legal Culture og Research group for Criminal Law and Criminal Procedure. Her Ph.D. supervisor was Jørn Jacobsen and Jørn Øyrehagen Sunde. She now works in Oslo, but is still a member of the Legal Culture research group, supervisor for master's students and a guest lecturer.

Brage Thunestvedt Hatløy. Continuity and change in property law in Magnus Lagabøter's land law of 1274

Brage Thunestvedt Hatløy defended his Ph.D in 2021 at the University of Bergen with the titel "Continuity and change in property rights in Magnus Lagabøter's land law of 1274". Hatløy studied how the Landslova is similar to and differs from older, comparable sources of law, and the content of the Kjøpebolken was compared with the rules from the older Gulatingslova, the Frostatingslova and the Bjarkøyretten for Nidaros. The Kjøpebolken deals with topics that we would today call property law: debt claims, buying and selling, traveling salesmen, mortgaging and more. His supervisor was Jørn Øyrehagen Sunde, who is now employed at the University of Oslo. Hatløy is now a postdoctoral fellow and leads the Research Group for Legal Culture together with Professor Sören Koch.