UK Business Law Developments Between 1600 and 1900


“ Analyze the important developments in the development of UK Business Law in the period between 1600 and 1900. Explain how these developments impact upon the current operation of UK Business Law. “ .


English concern jurisprudence is popularly said to hold evolved from a procedure of incorporation of the jurisprudence merchandiser. The Law merchandiser is said to hold developed from Lex mercatoria which is Latin for jurisprudence merchandiser. The construct of Lex mercatoria originated from Roman ius gentium, which is a organic structure of jurisprudence set out to modulate economic dealingss on an international graduated table and among Roman citizens. [ 1 ] Lex mercatoria could be seen as a organic structure of commercial jurisprudence which was used by merchandisers to modulate the trade activities and with an purpose to settle differences if any. A bookman described Lex mercatoria as a

“thin organic structure of jurisprudence which consist of the regulations of international conventions and unvarying Torahs and an international usage and uses and off the common nucleus of legal systems” .

The jurisprudence merchandisers has its beginning found in Western Europe during the Middle Ages and was recognized and adopted by the major commercial states. It was formed by bargainer and founded upon the imposts of merchandiser. As clip went on the jurisprudence merchandiser became incorporated into UK common jurisprudence and these development brought approximately impacts to concern jurisprudence of this twenty-four hours.

The Law Merchant has been linked with the character of being international in nature, because it was widely accepted in different parts of the universe and it does non deduce from national authorization. For a really long clip, the mercantile Torahs were applied throughout Western Europe among bargainers and became incorporated into the common jurisprudence in different states. The jurisprudence merchandiser was flexible and less formal than common jurisprudence. As common jurisprudence tribunals began to cover with the commercial instances it began to lose its international character and became national commercial jurisprudence. [ 2 ]

In the clip before the 60s most commercial instances were non heard in the regular common jurisprudence tribunals but the English jurisprudence merchandisers carried out their operations in their specialized tribunals, the borough, the pie pulverization tribunals and the Admiralty tribunal. [ 3 ] The pie pulverization tribunals were local tribunals attached to markets and authorised by franchise. These tribunals where established to present instant justness. Their legal power was limited to local differences by the legislative act of 1477. They were subsequently dissolved by the Administration of Justice Act 1977. [ 4 ] The instances put frontward in these tribunals were non judged by common jurisprudence tribunal Judgess but by the merchandisers. As clip went on the merchandiser tribunals of carnivals and town went into diminution and the state of affairs forced merchandisers to transport their instances to the common jurisprudence tribunals. The rules of the merchandisers were treated as customary regulations, and subsequently the common jurisprudence Judgess started to handle the rules of the merchandisers as reliable rules of jurisprudence. At the terminal of the 60s, the Torahs of the merchandisers were recognised as portion of the common jurisprudence and at the terminal period of the 70s ; mercantile jurisprudence was to the full incorporated into the common jurisprudence system.

In this essay the important countries of development and development of the UK concern jurisprudence will be touched upon and the positions of bookmans on the assorted impacts it has had on the current province of concern jurisprudence in the UK will be examined.

Incorporation of mercantile jurisprudence into common jurisprudence

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The seventeenth century saw an inevitable alteration over the place in England. The alteration included the powerful and the systematic look of mercantile imposts and the beginning of the response of these imposts into the Common Law. [ 5 ] Government around Europe began to develop the customary regulations established by the jurisprudence merchandiser. Merchants became progressively constrained under the common jurisprudence, it lost many of its favorable features such as its flexibleness and its vivacious ability to develop, its deficiency of formality and velocity and its trust on its commercial imposts and its pattern. [ 6 ] The differences between mercantile imposts and common jurisprudence became more marginalised as some instances which could non be solved within this informal system where taken to the common jurisprudence tribunals. In the 60s the common jurisprudence tribunals gave full acknowledgment to imposts of the jurisprudence merchandiser but at first competed with them.

In the 60s there were several tribunals that were viing with one another for difference declaration concern. The tribunals include the Royal common jurisprudence tribunals, the cannon jurisprudence tribunals, the royal maritime tribunals and the merchandiser tribunals. The common jurisprudence prove to be the superior and prevailed over most of the competition. Its major rival was the Law Merchant tribunals and made several attempts to set the Law merchandisers out of operation. Up to the early portion of the 60s merchandiser tribunals were still available and in full operation. Attempts were made by the royal tribunals to take bulk of the instances off from the merchandiser tribunals, where the tribunal rejected the foundations of the Law merchandiser. [ 7 ] Merchants became progressively restricted by the common jurisprudence and common jurisprudence tribunals refused to follow their imposts into jurisprudence and required them to fulfill series of trials.

Most of the recognition for the formation of commercial jurisprudence has been award to Lord Mansfield who was the Chief Justice of the King’s Bench from the period of 1756 to 1788. [ 8 ] He was described by some historiographers as the laminitis of commercial jurisprudence in England. He was the 1 who completed most of the incorporation procedure as he recognised that the jurisprudence of the jurisprudence merchandiser had gone far beyond that of the common jurisprudence tribunals. Lord Mansfield argued that England’s commercial jurisprudence had to develop as concern pattern developed and had to recognize concern imposts and use. [ 9 ] Lord Mansfield made the major determination to convey the jurisprudence merchandiser into common jurisprudence, with the attack of the usage of a particular jury of merchandisers to detect the appropriate mercantile usage and applications and utilize his findings to develop his regulation of jurisprudence for subsequent instances. [ 10 ] They adopted the merchandisers system because other European states were much more receptive to the Law merchandiser than had English common jurisprudence.

The common jurisprudence recognised certain rules of mercantile jurisprudence like the measure of exchange, measure of cargo, negotiable instruments etc. For illustration like in the instance of Woodward V Rowe ( 1666 ) , thee jurisprudence gives acknowledgment to the measures of exchange and it was further held that the jurisprudence merchandiser was portion of the jurisprudence of the land. [ 11 ] It could be seen in assorted determinations towards the terminal of the 17th century, that the jurisprudence merchandiser of measures and common jurisprudence has been joined together.

Limited liability Company

A limited liability company is a corporate construction whereby the members of the company can non be held personally apt for the company’s debts or liabilities. [ 12 ] Limited liability became established in the nineteenth century England, it has become one of, if non the most relevant characteristic of the twenty-first century concern pattern. Limited liability is of import in commercial jurisprudence it has made a great part to the growing of capitalist economy than any technological progresss. [ 13 ] In the eighteenth century bargainers who had non succeeded where at the hazard of insolvency because limited liability was non available at that clip. The parliament formed a bomber subdivision which was created to cut down the hazard of bargainers, the solution to insolvency between bargainers was and non-traders were non present until the nineteenth century. There the of import of bankruptcy jurisprudence rose in the nineteenth century.

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In the development of commercial jurisprudence in the UK, the South Seas Company played a critical function. It was formed by legislative act and charter in 1711 with the purpose to heighten trading in the Pacific and trade with the Spanish South American settlements. The South sea company had many stockholders and became rich and later on in the 1720 they took over the country’s national debt. [ 14 ] The south Sea companies portion monetary value dropped and led to bankruptcy all about. There where instruments adopted in the early portion of the 18th century. At a clip in history chartered companies had a default regulation of limited liability, [ 15 ] and an act of parliament would be required for the corporations to be held personally apt. [ 16 ]

In the mid 19th century the Limited liability Act 1855 and Joint Stock Companies Act 1856 where enacted, though the concern associations had developed decently in the yesteryear. The debut of the joint stock company in the seventeenth century, the invention of limited liability began to develop and be discussed as a relevant issue. Some argue that there was partial being of limited liability in the ulterior portion of the 17Thursdayand 18Thursdayconcern cooperation. [ 17 ]

Codification of Commercial jurisprudence

The Law committee was imposed with the responsibility to reexamine the jurisprudence of England and Wales, “with a position of its systematic development and reform, including in peculiar the codification of the jurisprudence … and by and large the simplification and modernization of the law” . [ 18 ] The Law Commission has a responsibility as a organic structure that reviews common jurisprudence in order to see if they require any simplification or modernization.

In the in-between portion of the nineteenth century the common jurisprudence tribunals had developed and incorporated the foundations of many critical rules of commercial jurisprudence. The codification of commercial jurisprudence was chiefly carried out by Sir Mackenzie Chalmers. In 1884 when Chalmers became a county tribunal justice, he set the undertaking to codify the jurisprudence of the gross revenues of goods. When Chalmers viewed the jurisprudence he described it stating,

“The jurisprudence of the gross revenues is in reasonably much the same status as other subdivisions of common jurisprudence modulating our mundane life.” [ 19 ]

He made a bill of exchange of the measure and it was criticized in the Lords, and it was taking the jurisprudence of the Scots into consideration so that it could be applied throughout the United Kingdom and it was subsequently passed into a jurisprudence in 1893.

Chalmers continued to do of import parts to commercial jurisprudence as he progressed to outline the Marine Insurance Act in 1894. He set out his bill of exchange in a commission which consisted of ship proprietors, attorneies and mean adjustors. It was besides introduced to the Lords and in 1906 it became a jurisprudence. Chambers undertook these two assignments because he wanted to guarantee the commercial community greater certainty in the jurisprudence and he said the codification of these will simplify the procedure of legal logical thinking by saying clearly the bing rules of commercial jurisprudence. [ 20 ] The consequence of Chalmers work was to develop the jurisprudence from common jurisprudence to extremely critical codified component. [ 21 ] Mackenzie Chalmers carried out most of the codification procedure but another of import individual who contributed to it was Frederick Pollock who made the bill of exchange of the Partnership Act 1890. This act was created to province and amend the jurisprudence of partnership, which sets out the footings of the jurisprudence on partnership and how it is of benefit to the community. There are some Acts of the Apostless of parliament that fail and are non every bit successful as the others. For illustration Parliament attempted to simplify the jurisprudence of personal security over movables in the Bills of Sale Act 1878. It had the purpose of doing the jurisprudence simpler for the debitor and creditor like by presenting a demand for a measure of sale to be in conformity with a peculiar signifier, if given by manner of security for the payment of money. [ 22 ] These parts made to commercial jurisprudence have helped the jurisprudence of the modern twenty-four hours to be stable and to be carried out expeditiously.

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The development of trade is required coincident development of jurisprudence, but commercial jurisprudence could non develop without altering demand in trade. [ 23 ] This means that through trade patterns the indispensable regulations for the development of commercial jurisprudence has been developed. The commercial jurisprudence of the present twenty-four hours has emerged from the jurisprudence merchandisers who were specializer in the field of commercialism, which make the jurisprudence most suited for steering and commanding commercial activities in our modern twenty-four hours society, as it did old ages back. This does non happen in the same manner everyplace as different authorities differ in the manner they carry out the subjection of the jurisprudence merchandiser and non because authorities had to supply and implement certain regulations of the game. [ 24 ] The development on commercial jurisprudence is filled with so many alterations and betterment as to guarantee certainty in the ordinances of concern.


B Pettet, “ Limited Liability— A Principle for the twenty-first Century? ” ( 1995 ) 48 CLP 125, 133. 5

Bruce L. Benson, The Spontaneous Development of Commercial Law, Southern Economic Journal ; Jan 1989 ; 55, 3 ; ProQuest Business Collection pg. 644

Chalmers, “ The Codification of the Law of Sale ” ( 1891 ) 12 Journal of the Institute of Bankers II,12-13

Charles A. Bane ( 1983 ) , From Holt and Mansfield to narrative Llewellyn and Mentschikoff: The Progressive Development of Commercial Law

Dame Mary Arden, Time for an English Commercial Code? , Cambridge Law Journal, 56 ( 3 ) , November 1997,

DuBois English Business Company, p 94-104.

Holdsworth English Law, 1925 Volume 8, pp 203-205

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James Steven Rogers ( 1995 ) , The early History of the Law of Bills and Notes, A survey of the beginnings of Anglo-American Commercial Law

L. Stuart Sutherland, The Law Merchant in England in the seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries, Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, Fourth Series, Vol. 17 ( 1934 ) , pp. 149-176

Lex mecatoria, Ph. D. pupil Ana Mercedes Lopez Rodriguez School of jurisprudence of private jurisprudence, University of Aarhus

The Bill of Sale Act ( 1878 ) Amendment Act 1882, s. 9

Viscount Erleigh, The South Sea Bubble ( 1933 )