Elgar Encyclopedia of Comparative Law, Second Edition
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Elgar Encyclopedia of Comparative Law, Second Edition

Edited by Jan M. Smits

Written by leading authorities in their respective fields, the contributions in this accessible book cover and combine not only questions regarding the methodology of comparative law, but also specific areas of law (such as administrative law and criminal law) and specific topics (such as accident compensation and consideration). In addition, the Encyclopedia contains reports on a selected set of countries’ legal systems and, as a whole, presents an overview of the current state of affairs.
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Chapter 53: Personality rights*

Johann Neethling


Personality rights recognize a person as a physical and spiritual–moral being (Joubert, 1953, pp. 139 ff.) and guarantee his enjoyment of his own sense of existence (Von Bar, 2000, p. 61). The modern concept of personality rights is firmly established in many legal systems but they do not have the same views on the protection of these rights (ibid.). In Europe some systems, such as German law, recognize a general right to personality, from which all concrete rights of personality flow, as a general clause for comprehensive personality protection (Neumann- Duesberg, 1991, pp. 957–8; Larenz and Canaris, 1994, pp. 491, 518–19; Van Gerven et al., 2000, pp. 163 ff., 142 ff., 165–6; Von Bar, 1996, pp. 583–4; Helle, 1991, pp. 6–7, 11). Others, for example France and Belgium, have and see no need for the recognition of a general right to personality because they developed a wide-ranging protection of personality rights on the basis of general delictual principles (Kerpen, 2003, pp. 44 ff.; Van Gerven et al., 2000, pp. 57 ff.; Rogers et al., 2001, pp. 87–9; Schmitz, 1967, pp. 4–6; Guldix and Wylleman, 1999, pp. 1589–94; Von Bar, 2000, p. 94). This is also the position in South Africa (Neethling, Potgieter and Visser, 2005, pp. 39–59; Burchell, 1996, pp. 639 ff.).

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