The merits and demerits of an all-rounder legal ac ademic. A critical appraisal of Johan van der Vyver’s contribution to legal scholarship in South Africa This article assesses the contribution of Johan van der Vyver to legal scholarship in South Africa. It does so with reference to his qualities and contributions as:
• Neo-Calvinist legal philosopher,
• herald of human rights,
• scholar and theoretician of Private Law and
• scholar and theoretician of Public Law.
His achievement as legal academic is not merely described but also appraised. It is argued that he must primarily be seen as a Neo-Calvinist legal philosopher in the Kuyperian tradition. His work as one of three foremost academic exponents of the idea and practice of human rights in South Africa is all the more remarkable because his initial ideas were developed in an environment not particularly conducive to an endeavour of this kind. As scholar of Private Law his main contribution has been the development of the theory of subjective rights in Private Law (and in a purist vein). He is, however, criticised for a paucity of reflection on the development of a similar theory in Public Law.