- law merchant
- A body of commercial law embracing the usages of merchants in different commercial countries, but not resting exclusively on the institutions and local customs of any particular country, consisting of certain principles of equity and usages of trade which general convenience and a common sense of justice have established to regulate the dealings of merchants and mariners in all the commercial countries of the civilized world. Bank of Conway v Stary, 51 ND 399, 200 NW 505, 37 ALR 1186. Long recognized as a part of the common law. 15 Am J2d Com L § 8. The basis of the jurisprudence regulating bills of exchange and promissory notes, particularly the negotiability of such instruments and the rights and liabilities of persons becoming parties to the instrument. 11 Am J2d B & N § 36. The law merchant or lex mercatoria was originally a separate body of law, and, like equity and admiralty law, was administered in separate or special courts. It bore some analogy to the Roman system known as "jus gentium." The lex mercatoria was not, like the common law, the custom of a place or territory; it was the recognized custom of merchants and traders who had business relations in all the countries of Europe, including England. The merchant class and the controversies of its members arising out of commercial transactions, were not subject to the common law. During the sixteenth century the admiralty court declared the principles of the law merchant. Later, the common law judges encroached upon the field of admiralty over commercial transactions. Thus, the law merchant gradually became a part of the legal system of England. Bank of Conway v Stary, 51 ND 399, 200 NW 505, 37 ALR 1186, 1193.
Ballentine's law dictionary. Anderson, W.S.. 1998.