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.
The contributions of
Understanding the Sources of Early Modern and Modern Commercial Law: Courts, Statutes, Contracts, and Legal Scholarship show the wealth of sources which historians of commercial law use to approach their subject. Depending on the subject, historical research on mercantile law must be ready to open up to different approaches and sources in a truly imaginative and interdisciplinary way. This, more than many other branches of law, has always been largely non-state law. Normative, ‘official’, sources are important in commercial law as well, but other sources are often needed to complement them. The articles of the volume present an excellent assemblage of those sources.
Anja Amend-Traut, Albrecht Cordes, Serge Dauchy, Dave De ruysscher, Olivier Descamps, Ricardo Galliano Court, Eberhard Isenmann, Mia Korpiola, Peter Oestmann, Heikki Pihlajamäki, Edouard Richard, Margrit Schulte Beerbühl, Guido Rossi, Bram Van Hofstraeten, Boudewijn Sirks, Alain Wijffels, and Justyna Wubs-Mrozewicz.
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.