Digitization Resources

Thanks to the Digital Paul Scholten Project, the main sources for Paul Scholten’s legal theoretical work are now available electronically in Dutch.
The main sources for the legal theoretical work of Paul Scholten are:

Algemeen Deel  van Mr. C. Asser’s Handleiding tot de beoefening van het Nederlandsch Burgerlijk Recht, W.E.J. Tjeenk Willink, Zwolle, 1931 en 1934. In 1974 Algemeen Deel was reprinted in its entirety in new spelling by W.E.J. Tjeenk Willink. The additions and revisions made by G.J. Scholten, the son of Paul Scholten, professor of Private Law at the University of Amsterdam, were clearly recognizable in the text.

Verzamelde Geschriften van Prof. Mr. Paul Scholten samengesteld door G.J. Scholten, Y. Scholten en M.H. Bregstein, W.E.J.Tjeenk Willink, Zwolle, four volumes collected papers in the first edition of 1949-1954, two volumes each containing two volumes in the second edition of 1980.


Existing Translations of Scholten’s Legal Theoretical Work

Algemeen Deel (AD), in translation project only chapter 1: AM (dutch), GM (english), MG (french), MU (indonesian)

Almost all of Paul Scholten’s texts are only available in Dutch.
There are, however, a few translations of Algemeen Deel:
French translation(1954)  of the second edition of the first chapter: Traité de Droit Civil Néerlandais, Partie Générale, Paul Scholten, traduit par B.E.Wielenga, Préface de Georges Ripert, W.E.J. Tjeenk Willink and S.A.R. Pichon et R. Durand-Auzias, Paris.
Indonesian translation(1986, 1992) of the second edition of the complete book: Mr. C. Asser Penuntun dalam mempelajari Hukum Perdata Belanda: Bagian Umum, Mr. P. Scholten, Penerjemah: Siti Soemarti Hartono, S.H., Penyunting Prof. dr. Sudikno Mertokusomo, S.H., Gadjah Mada University Press, Yogyakarta.
Indonesian translation(1985) of the third chapter only: Sejarah dan Perkembangan Kitab Undang-undang Hukum Perdata (Civil Code), P. Scholten, Alih Bahasa: Mr. Kurdi Soumintpura, Penerbit Armico, Bandung.
In the future new translations of Algemeen Deel could be made. The Brazilian scholars Luciano de Camargo Penteado and Nuno M.M.S. Coelho, both speakers at the third Paul Scholten symposium, had announced their intention to translate Algemeen Deel into Portuguese. These plans changed, however, after the untimely death of Luciano to illness in 2015.

Verzamelde Geschriften (VG), in English: Collected Papers (CP)

Indonesian translation

When the Digital Paul Scholten Project (DPSP) was started in 2010, its primary purpose was to make an English language translation of the first chapter of Algemeen Deel. During the initial phase of the project, Arief Sidharta sent an Indonesian translation he had made of VG 15, De Structuur der Rechtswetenschap. Sidharta gave DPSP permission to publish this translation Judul Struktur Ilmu Hukum in open access. This Indonesian translation can be found on this websote, as a standalone text and side by side with the Dutch original.

Other translations of Scholten’s texts may be found in Indonesia. The articles of Shidarta, Djalins an Moeliono (See All Articles in DPSP Annual) show how such translations of the works of Dutch legal philosophers circulated at the Universities in Indonesia at the end of the twentieth century.

Originals in French

Paul Scholten has written four articles in French, which are also included in French in Verzamelde Geschriften (VG):

CP65: ‘Jean Yver, Les contrats dans le très ancien droit Nor­mand’,

CP 66: ‘Convenances vainquent loi’,

CP 9: ‘L’Interprétation de la Loi et la Justice’,

CP 34: ‘L’autorité de l’Etat


Reissues and Text modernization

A New Title – Algemene Methode van het Privaatrecht

The title of the translation has been discussed in the editorial board. In the Netherlands it is customary to refer to Algemeen Deel when referring to the first chapter of the General Part. Since the first chapter would be published as an independent text, both in Dutch and in English translation, it was decided to give it a new title. The board chose the title General Method of Private Law (short: General Method (GM)), which is a contamination of the title of Chapter 1 (The Method of Private Law) and the book (General Part). It expressed what Paul Scholten says in his foreword about the purpose of Algemeen Deel
“It treats (…) what is common to all parts (…): the method. (…) Finally, I believe that it is only through reflection on the method that the lawyer gains insight into what law actually is”.

For the Dutch original, the title became Algemene Methode van het Privaatrecht (Algemene Methode (AM). The new title was also introduced for the reissue of the already existing French and Indonesian translations, Méthode Générale du Droit Privé (MG) and Metode Umum Hukum Perdata (MU), respectively.

Second Print

In 2010 it was decided to use the first edition from 1931 as the basis for the English translation of Chapter 1 of Algemeen Deel. The photocopy of Algemeen Deel, posted on the Dutch version of the DPSP website, is therefore made of the first edition. Later it turned out that the French and Indonesian translations had been made on the basis of the second edition from 1934. The second edition contains a few additions and revisions by Paul Scholten. That is why it eventually turned out to be better to use the second edition as the basis for making the English translation.

Shift of Focus

In 2010, the emphasis was strongly on the legal, private law, significance of Chapter 1 of Algemeen Deel. Much attention was therefore paid to questions such as how to deal with outdated legal texts, the references to institutions that no longer exist, a summary of old judgments and the creation of a thesaurus for legal concepts that are difficult to translate. Dealing with these problems would have required assistance of experts in (the history of) civil law. Because it seemed at the beginning that quite a few people would like to be involved in the translation project, in the first setup of the website, comment functions were added to discuss the problems of translation. The online comment functions were found not to be used. Therefore, they were deleted after some time. This also involved a shift in the focus of the translation project. It became much more a philosophical and social scientific project.


Text Modernization of Algemeen Deel (Chapter 1) and Verzamelde Geschriften

Quite a few people in 2010 thought that it would turn out to be impossible to translate the first chapter of Algemeen Deel. Some people wondered whether the chapter might not also be too old-fashioned at several points to be meaningful to contemporary readers. They advised to translate only part of the chapter. Even in Dutch, the chapter is very ‘retro’ due to its old spelling, old grammar, references to laws and institutions which no longer exist and a use of the masculine personal pronoun, which even slightly offended our native speaker. In addition, the text also contains quotations in German, French and Latin and lacks references to literature or refers to parts of the Asser Series which can only be found in the Asser archives. All of this led in the end to the decision to adapt the Dutch text so that the English language translation would be fit to be published as a readable text for an international audience. A text modernization was made in which the positive law aspects were circumvented as much as possible. References to outdated legislation and to institutions that no longer exist have been avoided by paraphrasing legal issues in a non-legal-technical way with a somewhat global summary of the text. The edit also introduced a new spelling of the Dutch and a removal of old grammatical forms. In addition, a semantic modernization of the Dutch language was made, which was more drastic the older the text was.
Finally, the modernization meant that the references to literature were edited with the help of a reference manager and that a list of literature was added. The adaptation of the Dutch text has been fully implemented in the English translation, but not in the reissues of the French and Indonesian translations. Here only the new bibliography was added. The registers of the original editions were omitted because they had become obsolete. These registers are included in the web presentations of Algemeen Deel on the Dutch part of the website.
The texts of the Verzamelde Geschriftened which are translated (at this moment only no 2), will be modernized according to the same principles as used for Algemeen Deel.

Side by Sides

Because the editing also involved a text modernization, which has been only partially implemented in the reissue of the already existing French and Indonesian translation, the impression could arise that the translators had not done their job properly. However, all translations can be compared with each other and with the original Dutch text: See sides-by side.


Translation Committee

For orientation purposes, the project’s editors read the Centre for International Legal Cooperation (Cilc) Annual Report 1995 about their approach to and projects for the English translation of Dutch legislation. Marjanne Termorshuizen-Arts, a member of the DPSP Editorial Board, had been involved in the Cilc project ‘Law Dictionary’. One of the most important recommendations for making translations was to realize a collaboration between an expert on the content of the text, a translator and a native speaker.
At the very start of the project, the DPSP Editorial Board decided that a first draft of a translated article would be put online in order to create an online opportunity for commenting on the unedited translation. Discussion was had about hiring a professional translator along with a native speaker, but it was soon concluded that there was insufficient budget for such a plan. It was agreed that two members of the board would do the translation work as volunteers: the project’s initiator, Liesbeth Huppes-Cluysenaer, and Marjanne Termorshuizen, who – as member of Centre for International Legal Cooperation– not only had experience as a translator, but had also written a thesis on developments in legal theory related to juridical semantics. Cassandra Steer, an Australian PhD student at the University of Amsterdam who had lectured for some time at the Department of General Jurisprudence, was prepared to do the language check as native speaker. And so a translation committee was formed with three experts in legal theory, two of whom also had expertise relevant to translation.
The translation committee was disbanded as soon as the draft English translation of the first chapter of Algemeen Deel was put online. Marjanne has, however, remained active in the editorial team. She tracked down the Indonesian translation of Algemeen Deel by Hartono, which was rumored to exist, in the National Archives in The Hague, along with the translation of the third chapter of Soemintapoera. As an expert in the field of the Indonesian translation of Dutch legal texts, she was also actively involved in putting these translations of the Algemeen deel online.
The first writing from the Verzamelde Geschriften (no 2) has now been translated by Huppes and will have to undergo a language editing by a native speaker.


One of the most important aspects of the method chosen was that the Translation Committee would not strive for unanimity, but rather to be as transparent as possible about the passages that had given rise to differences of opinion or hesitation.

The procedure unfolded in steps. Liesbeth would first translate large chunks of text which she then sent to Cassandra, who would return the text with tracked changes to Liesbeth. Liesbeth then forwarded the text to Marjanne, with most of the tracked changes accepted, but with some remarks next to points where she disagreed with Cassandra. Marjanne then checked the whole text. Her corrections never led to further discussion. She paid special attention to the marked problems and sometimes agreed with Liesbeth that Cassandra had not fully understood the Dutch. What then remained were the actual translation problems. In these cases Liesbeth made the final decision, but would indicate in a comment that a translation problem had arisen. The Translation Committee had expected that outsiders would use the comment function to come up with alternatives, but nothing of the kind happened.

The focus on detecting translation problems rather than reaching unanimity on choices, made the collaboration fruitful and enjoyable. Because the comment function was not used, it was eventually removed. It is still possible, and people are very welcome, to send comments to the contact address of the site. Comments will be digested in personal communication by the webmaster. The comment function can be reinstalled if this should appear to be relevant.

The translation issues identified by the translation committee are now included in Comments and Annotations, which is an Appendix to the publication of the English translation in DPSP Annual, Volume 1 (2020). The few responses submitted as comments are also included. However, as noted above, during the course of the project, the perspective on the translation has changed. In the early stages, many of the translation problems concerned the translation of legal terms and the question of how to deal with the reference to outdated legislation, no longer existing institutions and terms that are not completely equivalent in different legal cultures. Over time, the perspective shifted to the desire to avoid such problems as much as possible. In the modernization of the original text all specific details of the references to positive law have been removed as much as possible. As a result, some of the translation committee’s comments became irrelevant. Comments and Annotations include only the comments made by the translation committee that remained relevant.

General Decisions by Translation Committee (TC)

The Translation Committee took as its point of departure a quotation from Scholten’s valedictory lecture in 1945 (VG 17): “Wie hetzelfde anders zegt, zegt iets anders” (saying the same thing differently means saying something different’). This meant that we attempted to translate the first chapter of Algemeen Deel as literally as possible. An additional reason for this translation-strategy was the fact that the translation would probably be primarily used as a lingua franca by readers for whom the English language is not their mother tongue. Dutch legal terms are often closer to French or German words than to English as the countries share a legal tradition that is similar in many ways.

Translated text would be divided into numbered blocks to make comparison with other translations and commentary easy. The blocks are rather arbitrarily chosen text chunks. They do not conform to the division into paragraphs made by Scholten himself. A tab indicates Scholten’s paragraph division.

One of the characteristics of Paul Scholten’s style of writing is that in many situations he avoided the use of technical terms. The Translation Committee adopted the same style and chose a solution in everyday language wherever possible.

Paul Scholten used not only italics, but also accents to underscore certain words. These accents make it possible “to hear him lecture” while reading. The Translation Committee chose to skip these accents, sometimes making a translation which gives somewhat more emphasis.

The Translation Committee followed Scholten in the use of quotation marks and italics.

The quotes in French, German or Latin have not been translated by the translation committee. Initially the plan was to make as much use as possible of existing translations of that literature. In recent years, however, Google translate has developed in such a way that (transl. Lhc) means that Google translate has been checked and edited by Liesbeth. For Latin, Google search often provides the required translation.


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