Thirteenth-century England was a commercial backwater whose trade was dominated by foreigners. To accommodate and encourage foreign merchants, England modified its legal system by creating legal institutions which were available to both domestic and foreign traders. Among the most important of these institutions were streamlined debt collection procedures and mixed juries composed of both Englishmen and foreigners. By introducing institutions which treated locals and foreigners equally, England created a level playing field which enabled English merchants to become increasingly prominent in the later Middle Ages. England’s ability to modernize its law was facilitated by the secular nature of English law, the representation of merchants in Parliament, and legal pluralism. Medieval England contrasts sharply with the early modern Ottoman Empire. The latter created special institutions for foreign merchants, which eventually put Ottoman Muslims at a competitive disadvantage.
Commercial Law | Comparative and Foreign Law | Law and Economics | Legal History, Theory and Process
Date of this Version
Daniel M. Klerman, "The Emergence of English Commercial Law: Analysis Inspired by Ottoman Experience" (September 2008). University of Southern California Law and Economics Working Paper Series. Working Paper 84.