Significant Developments in the Evolution of UK Business Law

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Analyse the significant developments in the evolution of UK Business Law in the period between 1600 and 1900. Explain how these developments impact upon the current operation of UK Business Law INCORPORATING THE LAW MERCHANT INTO COMMON LAW In the 1600’s a major development of business law was the incorporation of merchant law into the UK system. Before merchant Law was properly incorporated in the UK, it operated in the court of Admiralty which had been strengthened by a statute in 1540[1].

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As identified by Frederick Beutel, the demand for a special mercantile court was recognized by the parliament and this led to acts in 1648 and 1653 which gave the Admiralty jurisdiction over mercantile and commercial matters except for bills of exchange and accounts between merchants[2], However due the opposition of common law judges the bill was lost in 1970 and the court ceased to have an influence over commercial matters.[3] The law was unsatisfactory when the common law courts finally achieved jurisdiction over commercial matters.[4] This led the business community to avoid litigation in the king’s courts; although this was before Lord Mansfield took position has chief justice.[5]Commercial arbitration which was a very important part of merchant Law — Arbitration accounted for a large portion of the disputes on commercial paper. Which led to the Parliament, at the request of the merchants, passing the Commercial Arbitration Act in I698. This was another important part of the law merchant which was re-enacted into the English law by legislation A great step was taken with the incorporation of merchant law in year 1666, which was characterised as ” one of the boldest fictions known in our legal history,”[6] The courts declared that the custom was part of the law of the land and therefore applied to all persons. Then came the final stage of incorporation which was for the courts to take judicial notice of mercantile custom and to treat it as part of the law. This feat is usually attributed to Lord Mansfield: L stuart stated that the incorporation of merchant law into the UK was two fold [7], it began with the growingly powerful and systematic expression of merchant customs; as well as the beginning of the reception of those customs into the Common Law[8]. L, stuart particularly commended Lord Mansfield for “his use of foreign examples, his quotation of the works of Juris consults, his use of portions of the Civil Law, dnd finally, the tendency to stress, where necessary, equity rather than precedent,”[9] In the eighteenth century two astounding judges brought about a solution to the problem of common law actions based on mercantile custom . Charles Bane stated that it was because of these two judges that the law of the merchant merged in to the UK[10] Lord holt was in position from 1989 to 1710 he was the first judge to make used of special juries composed of merchants [11]and he was the first common law judge to recognize the title to a bill of exchange in a bona fide transferee for value In a memorable case appropriately entitled Anonymous.[12]Although Lord Holt was commended for his steps within the UK ,he was viewed as conservative because he refused to accept the seventeenth-century mercantile custom that recognized promissory notes as negotiable instruments.[13] an example of this is the case of Clark V martin[14].

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