In 1516 and 1518, the Antwerp City Council introduced a collective system of debt recovery, which broke with the tradition of priority for the first seizing claimant. This view resulted in a legal framework, which was based on the concept of publicly known insolvency. Because of the vague legal definitions in the 1582 and 1608 customary law compilations, the position of pursuing creditors was strengthened. Although these rules weren't successful, they demonstrate an early intention to draw the line between criminal bankruptcy, persisting insolvency and temporary payment problems.
The 1582 Antwerp costuymen influenced Amsterdam law during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Although the Antwerp law has often been considered as an applicable law in the Amstel city, its role was more limited. At the end of the sixteenth century and during the first half of the seventeenth century, it was used as a common and subsidiary applicable law for certain mercantile issues. Later on, as the Amsterdam legislator issued ordinances on these themes, this function declined. Yet, references to the Antwerp law book were still common in the eighteenth century, although they were more a consequence of a cultural attraction than of an actual application of the Brabant law book.
In the County of Holland, in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries the rules regarding security interests in movables changed fundamentally. Rules of doctrine came to be combined with rules found in local law, that is the bylaws of cities and regions. This went together with the re-interpreting of fragments of older bylaws. In 1631 Grotius’ Inleidinghe categorized the lien of the unpaid seller after delivery of the merchandise sold as entailing a reivindicatio. This new rule was adopted in cities in Holland, even though it ran counter the earlier approach that third-party effects of sales in this regard were very limited. Also, the new line of thought that holders with a legitimate title did not respond to pledgees pushed out older conceptions on tracing for some special pledges. In their legal writings Dutch authors after Grotius attempted to construe consistent solutions; in the legislative practice of cities, older rules could be preferred over new ones. Bylaws of cities, to which authors of Roman-Dutch doctrine referred as well, stipulated limits on tracing by unpaid sellers. All the mentioned developments were not determined by changes in the market, even though they could be incited by them. Legal change in Holland, even in the Golden Age of the seventeenth century, was due more to the embracing of academic ideas than to responsiveness to economic conditions.
This volume brings together nine chapters by specialist legal historians that address the topic of the scale and size of companies, in both legal and economic history. The bundled texts cover different periods, from the Middle Ages, the Early Modern Period, to the nineteenth century. They analyse the historical development of basic features of present-day corporations and of other company types, among them the general and limited partnership. These features include limited liability and legal personality. A detailed overview is offered of how legal concepts and mercantile practice interacted, leading up to the corporate characteristics that are so important today.
Contributors are: Anja Amend-Traut, Luisa Brunori, Dave De ruysscher, Stefania Gialdroni, Ulla Kypta, Bart Lambert, Annamaria Monti, Carlos Petit, and Bram Van Hofstraeten.