Private governance

Led by: Professor Vibe Ulfbeck

It is well-known that private actors can create their own private legal orders. Private actors can thus to a large extent establish their own rules and standards of behavior. Private actors can also play a significant role in the implementation and enforcement of such private rules and standards. In some sectors of the economy such legal structures play a significant role, in others they are restricted by detailed regulation.

In recent decades, the impact of private legal orders appears to have increased due to different societal developments, including privatization, globalization and digitalization. Thus, over the past decades budgetary constraints and general ideological and political movements have led many welfare states to increased privatization at the domestic level of what has previously been thought of as public tasks. As a consequence of modern trade policies and hasty technological developments, some private actors have become globalized and operate increasingly as powerful, transnational entities, challenging the role and reach of the state.

These developments have increased the room for private governance of both traditional commercial activities and of the supply of a variety of goods and services of critical importance for markets and welfare. In this connection, private actors create new legal structures - private legal orders – in which they may become important players both as regulators (rule-makers), implementers and dispute resolution facilitators.

We use the term private governance to describe this role of private actors undertaking traditional public (state) functions in the forms of rule-making, implementation/enforcement, and dispute resolution. The purpose of our research on private governance is to examine its legal implications, in particular to identify and analyze how private and public law can both support and limit private governance.


  • Professor Vibe Ulfbeck
  • Professor Ole Hansen
  • Associate professor Clement Salung Petersen
  • Associate professor Anders Møllmann
  • Associate professor Andreas Ehlers