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From St. Ives To Cyberspace: The Modern Distortion Of The Medieval 'Law Merchant', Stephen E. Sachs
Student Scholarship Papers
Modern advocates of corporate self-regulation have drawn unlikely inspiration from the Middle Ages. On the traditional view of history, medieval merchants who wandered from fair to fair were not governed by domestic laws, but by their own lex mercatoria, or "law merchant." This law, which uniformly regulated commerce across Europe, was supposedly produced by an autonomous merchant class, interpreted in private courts, and enforced through private sanctions rather than state coercion. Contemporary writers have treated global corporations as descendants of these itinerant traders, urging them to replace conflicting national laws with a law of their own creation. The standard history ...