Collective knowledge.Future-proofing a 19th-century masterpiece.
The ability to gather and share knowledge – between colleagues, areas of expertise and generations – is essential to a law firm's success. But just like the law, knowledge isn’t static: it changes and evolves over time. We reveal the part we are playing in updating the iconic Asser series.
One of the pillars of knowledge of Dutch Civil Law is the Asser series. First published at the end of the 19th century, it’s something that every Dutch law student turns to at some point to prepare for exams. Named after civil law professor Carel Asser (1843-1898), this authoritative textbook consists of more than 30 volumes, including Asser-serie 3-VI Zekerheidsrechten (Asser series 3-VI Security Rights). When the 16th edition – due to be published in 2020 – needed to be reviewed, NautaDutilh’s Kasper Krzeminski and Toon van Mierlo teamed up to take on the task.
Kasper, a partner at NautaDutilh’s Litigation & Arbitration practice group, had already worked on the previous edition, but as a contributor. He explains: “My involvement began as I was about to embark on my PhD thesis at Erasmus University Rotterdam. While working together with Toon on a case relating to repledge of collateral, I had firmly declared that repledge was impossible and clearly a mistake of the legislator. Toon, then a partner of NautaDutilh and professor of law at the university, somewhat jokingly answered ‘well, if you think you know so much about this topic, why don't you write a book about it?'. And so I did – with Toon as my promotor.
“That led to a pleasant and fruitful cooperation and some thought-provoking discussions, both in our daily litigation practice and in our joint academic pursuits. After obtaining my doctorate cum laude in 2013, Toon and I continued working together on many publication projects. At some point, Toon asked me to assist him by contributing to the 15th edition of Asser-serie 3-VI Zekerheidsrechten, published in 2016.
“Much has changed for me since this last edition came out,” Kasper continues. “In 2017, I was made a partner at NautaDutilh and have since built an international litigation and arbitration practice. However, I still very much enjoy doing academic work – time permitting, of course. For this edition, I will be credited as co-author alongside Toon. A great honour.
“When it comes to the actual reading, writing, editing and re-reading, however, we are distributing the workload exactly as before. We both start by reading the entire volume and assess which parts need to be updated. We then research every new case law and legal publication which need to be integrated. After that, we really dive into it. If possible, I would work on it full-time. Unfortunately, that’s not the case, so we have to work evenings and weekends. You can imagine that sending the finished manuscript off to the publisher is always a moment of great relief! As it’s hard to overstate the importance of the Asser series, however, it is time that I gladly invest. I hope Toon and I will continue our cooperation for many years and editions to come.”
About the Asser series
The Asser series was named after Carel Asser (1843-1898), a professor of civil law, commercial law and civil procedure at Leiden University. Among his many accomplishments was authoring the Handleiding tot de beoefening van het Nederlands Burgerlijk Recht (Manual for the practice of Dutch Civil Law). With this textbook, Asser aimed to explain Dutch civil law systematically and judiciously. Thus, he paid a great deal of attention to the integrated treatment of the applicable civil law, in which European law and comparative law play essential roles. Asser also made sure he used clear, to-the-point language. Today, though modified and greatly expanded, the manual is still being reprinted as the Asser series – and in more than 30 volumes. In addition to the parts on substantive law, there are ten parts relating solely to the field of civil procedural law.