Universiteit Leiden

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Carel Stolker

Former Rector Magnificus & Chairman of the Executive Board/Professor emeritus Private Law

Prof.mr. C.J.J.M. Stolker
+31 71 527 2727

Carel Stolker (Leiden, 23 June 1954) was Rector Magnificus and President of the Executive Board of Leiden University from 8 February 2013 to 7 February 2021. Stolker is an emeritus Professor of Private Law.

More information about Carel Stolker


Carel Stolker (Leiden, 23 June 1954) has been Rector Magnificus and President of the Executive  Board of Leiden University from 8 February 2013 to 7 February 2021. Stolker is an emeritus Professor of Private Law.

Academic career

Carel Stolker studied in Leiden, and started his academic career in 1979 at the department of Civil Law at Leiden University, where he taught  property law, contracts, tort law and a wide range of other subjects, also including health law. He also taught post-academic subjects to lawyers, notaries, judges and company lawyers. In 1988 he obtained his PhD based on a comparative law dissertation on medical liability, supervised by Professors Hans Nieuwenhuis and Bernard Sluijters (Aansprakelijkheid van de arts, Kluwer). In 1991 he taught liability law at the  University of California Hastings College of the Law, in San Francisco, followed by an appointment as professor in 1996. 


Stolker’s inaugural lecture was on the subject of the rise of the claim culture in the Netherlands and Europe. He has also written on diverse private law and philosophy of science topics in national and international journals. He collaborated with Anneleen Broekhuijsen on Geneesmiddelen en aansprakelijkheid (Kluwer, 1986). In 1989 Van arts naar advocaat (Boom, Scheltema & Holkema/Kluwer), was published on the legal and societal origins of the American claim culture and the lessons that Europe could learn from this.  

In 2003 Stolker delivered Leiden University’s Dies Natalis lecture on the law as an academic discipline (“Ja, geléérd zijn jullie wel!” Over de status van de rechtswetenschap). This inaugural lecture marked the start of a debate among Dutch lawyers on the founding principles of their discipline, and was the impetus for Stolker’s book on law faculties worldwide:   Rethinking the Law School – Education, Research, Outreach & Governance (Cambridge University Press 2014). The book is based on his experiences as a lecture, researcher and university administrator. In the period preceding/run-up to his rectorship he added chapters on the major challenges facing the modern research university, and on the question of how universities can best be governed.  
Stolker is a member of the Editorial Board of the legal series Tekst & Commentaar and editor-in-chief of the loose-leaf publication Onrechtmatige Daad. He also writes for both publications. 

Administrative positions

Over the course of his career, Stolker has held a wide range of administrative positions. From 1997 he was Professor-Director of the E.M. Meijers Institute for Legal Research at the Leiden Faculty of Law, and subsequently, from 2001,  was Vice-Dean responsible for research. He was Dean of the Leiden Faculty of Law from 2005 to 2011. He has held numerous academic (NWO), societal and policy positions. From 2011 to 2016 he was a member of the Board of Governors of the  Research Foundation – Flanders (FWO). He is a member of the Supervisory Board of the National Museum of World Cultures  (comprising the Museum of Ethnology, the Tropical Museum and the Africa Museum). 

In February 2016 Stolker was appointed as a member of the Koninklijke Hollandsche Maatschappij der Wetenschappen (Royal Holland Society of Sciences and Humanities). 

Former Rector Magnificus & Chairman of the Executive Board/Professor emeritus Private Law

  • Faculteit Rechtsgeleerdheid
  • Instituut voor Privaatrecht
  • Civiel recht

Work address

Kamerlingh Onnes Building
Steenschuur 25
2311 ES Leiden



  • Gerechtshof 's-Hertogenbosch Raadsheer-plaatsvervanger
  • Kluwer Hoofdredacteur onrechtmatige daad (losbladig)
  • Tekst & Commentaar Lid redactie (raad)
  • Stichting Vrienden Katholieke Studentenpastoraat Lid
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