About Ferenc Mádl

(Bánd, 1931- Budapest, 2011)

Scholar, university professor of law, member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. Minister without portfolio and later Minister of Culture and Public Education in the first two conservative cabinets between 1990-1994. President of Hungary between 2000-2005.   

Early years

Ferenc Mádl was born into a peasant family with several children. He completed elementary school in Bánd and Szentkirályszabadja, and secondary school in city of Veszprém. Between 1951-1955 he studied law in Pécs (University of Pécs), then in Budapest (Eötvös Loránd University). In 1955 he graduated with honors. During his university years he worked as a manual worker and also did his military service.

After graduating he worked in the courts of law and moved to the Office of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in 1956.

Researcher at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and at the Institute for Legal Studies

Ferenc Mádl began to become interested in scientific work even as an undergraduate. As a student in Pécs, one of his studies on public administration’s responsibility predicted his outstanding legal skills for his teachers.

During his one and a half decade (1956-1971) at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, he assisted the work of the Department No. 2. in various positions, and from 1958 he was involved in the researches at the Institute for Legal Studies of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. Many of his former teachers and mentors worked there, he was especially close to Professor Endre Nizsalovszky and Professor Gyula Eörsi.

During the decades he progressed steadily on the ladder of scientific career. He defended his PhD-thesis in 1964, he received the DSc in 1974. He became a correspondent member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in 1987 and a regular member in 1993. He was a member of several Hungarian and foreign scientific societies and the honorary doctor of various universities (including both University of Pécs and Eötvös Loránd University). During his career he received numerous national and foreign medals and awards.

Scholar and Professor of Law

Ferenc Mádl studied at the Faculté Internationale de Droit Comparé in Strasbourg between 1961 and 1963, and after his graduation he started doing Hungarian comparative law research.

Professor Mádl’s research topics covered various areas of civil law, international law, European economic integration law, and comparative law. Although he was already a regular lecturer as a researcher both home and abroad, Ferenc Mádl began his teaching career at Eötvös Loránd University of Budapest in 1967. He was associate professor from 1971, university professor from 1975 and head of the newly established Department of International Private Law from 1985.

In addition to teaching, he was involved in university administration, including being deputy rector for research from 1974 to 1977. 

Public activities

In fact, Ferenc Mádl appeared on the field of public life in the 1970s with his appointment as deputy rector. From one of the leading figures of the Hungarian scientific life became the member of the first freely elected government in the early 1990s. Finally he was elected the President of the Hungarian Republic in 2000.


Ferenc Mádl passed away in Budapest in 2011. His grave is in the Fiume Road Cemetery. A memorial plaque (2014) and a statue (2016) have been unveiled in his native village. The Research Institute of the Hungarian Ministry of Justice (Ferenc Mádl Institute for Comparative Law) named after him in 2019.

Selected publications

  • A deliktuális felelősség a társadalom és a jog fejlődésének történetében(1964)
  • Az Európai Gazdasági Közösség joga(1974)
  • Összehasonlító nemzetközi magánjog– A nemzetközi gazdasági kapcsolatok joga (1978)
  • Magyar nemzetközi magánjog és a nemzetközi gazdasági kapcsolatok joga(co-authored with Professor Lajos Vékás, several editions between 1981–2012)
  • Állam és gazdaság – Forradalom a jog útján a közép- és kelet-európai országokban(1997)

Ferenc Mádl and International Economic Law

János Martonyi
Faculty of Law, University of Szeged

Keywords: Ferenc Mádl, scholar, statesman, international economic law, theory and practice


Ferenc Mádl, while rising to the ranks of the outstanding Hungarian statesmen who served their country unconditionally, remained a scholar with exceptional knowledge and a unique academic life. In the 1970s, he was the first to recognise that even the broadest interpretation of the field of private international law could not cope with the expansion and transformation of international economic relations in the world and in our country. Reality had gone beyond the given framework of thought, „the facts had rebelled”, a new system and new solutions were needed. A new discipline, international economic law was born to meet the needs of theory, education and practice. The new field of law not only sensed the changes in reality and the interconnections between different areas of reality, but also anticipated the future. Decades later, Ferenc Mádl comprehensively summarised the most important legal consequences of economic, political and social changes and demonstrated the role of law in these changes. In the field of international economic relations, changes have continued to accelerate, new issues and new dilemmas have emerged, including in the area of foreign investment, where public law meets private law, international law meets national law, substantive law meets procedural law. These – and many other exciting new topics – remain best located, cultivated and taught in the field of international economic relations ‘invented’ by Ferenc Mádl.

The article can be found here.

Anniversary: Commemorating the 90th birthday of Ferenc Mádl, President of the Republic (2000-2005)
Ferenc Mádl, the Hungarian Professor of European Law

Endre Domaniczky
Senior research fellow, Ferenc Mádl Institute of Comparative Law, Budapest

Keywords: Ferenc Mádl, private international law, Central Europe, V4, Hungary



Living in a country under foreign occupation he became engrossed in the science of private law, and (under the influence and with the support of his masters) he started to study the characteristics of socialist, and later of Western European legal systems. Within the socialist bloc, he became one of the early experts on Common Market law, who, following an unexpected historical event, the 1989 regime change in Hungary, was also able to make practical use of his theoretical knowledge for the benefit of his country. In 2021, on the 90th anniversary of his birth and the 10th anniversary of his death, the article remembers Ferenc Mádl, legal scholar, member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, minister in the Antall- and Boross governments, former President of Hungary.

The article can be found here.

The article is published in the Hungarian Yearbook 2021.