The influence of Otto Kahn-Freund on comparative Labour Law

AutoreBob Hepple
The influence of Otto Kahn-Freund on comparative
Labour Law
B H
My dear Bruno
We were introduced to each other by Sir Otto Kahn-Freund in 1972 at the
Congress of the International Society for Labour Law and Social Security held
in Selva di Fasano. This was no accident. He wanted us to know one another
because he recognised in each of us a commitment to the method of comparative
labour law which he had pioneered in Britain and Gino Giugni was pursuing in
At the time you were a young protégé of Gino and had also come under the
inuence of Otto in Oxford. When I rst met Otto in 1965 I was doing research
in Cambridge and he was Professor of Comparative Law at Oxford. I sought
out his help in tracking down some collective agreements. His response was
immediate and painstaking and before long he had immersed himself in nursing
me through the writing of a book on racial discrimination and labour law. In the
years that followed we fell naturally into that bond which links those who came
to Britain as political refugees, he from Nazi Germany in 1933, and me, a gener-
ation later in 1963, from apartheid South Africa. I was honoured when he invited
me in 1971 to write with him a Fabian pamphlet on laws against strikes, and in
1979, shortly before his death to take over from him as chief editor of the La-
bour Law volume of the International Encyclopedia of Comparative Law. Gino
was to have written the chapter in that volume on the making, modication and
termination of employment relationships. When he had to withdraw because of
other commitments, I had no hesitation in inviting you to write the chapter. That
turned out to be a saga which, though no fault of yours and entirely due to delays
by the general editors at the Max Planck Institute in Hamburg, lasted for nearly
20 years with the chapter nally being published only in 2010! I have a sense of
guilt that I was not able to do more to speed up the process, and that your chap-
ter has not received the wide distribution which it deserves. It is an outstanding
exercise in comparative labour law, providing a solid foundation for all future
scholarship on the making and termination of the employment relationship.
However, we had a more productive and highly enjoyable relationship as
a result of joining the European Comparative Labour Law Group founded by
Thilo Ramm in 1978. Otto suggested both our names to Thilo, under whose
guidance, and my editorship, we published in 1986 The Making of Labour Law

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