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Commercial law (or business law),[1] which is also known by other names such as mercantile law or trade law depending on jurisdiction; is the body of law that applies to the rights, relations, and conduct of persons and organizations engaged in commercial and business activities.[2][3][4] It is often considered to be a branch of civil law and deals with issues of both private law and public law.

Commercial law includes within its compass such titles as principal and agent; carriage by land and sea; merchant shipping; guarantee; marine, fire, life, and accident insurance; bills of exchange, negotiable instruments, contracts and partnership.[5] Many of these categories fall within Financial law, an aspect of Commercial law pertaining specifically to financing and the financial markets. It can also be understood to regulate corporate contracts, hiring practices, and the manufacture and sales of consumer goods. Many countries have adopted civil codes that contain comprehensive statements of their commercial law.

In the United States, commercial law is the province of both the United States Congress, under its power to regulate interstate commerce, and the states, under their police power. Efforts have been made to create a unified body of commercial law in the United States; the most successful of these attempts has resulted in the general adoption of the Uniform Commercial Code, which has been adopted in all 50 states (with some modification by state legislatures), the District of Columbia, and the U.S. territories.

Various regulatory schemes control how commerce is conducted, particularly vis-a-vis employees and customers. Privacy laws, safety laws (e.g., the Occupational Safety and Health Act in the United States), and food and drug laws are some examples.


Further information: Outline of commercial law

Commercial law covers the following legal areas :

This broad area of law covers many topics, from forming new companies, drafting business contracts, employment processes, corporate mergers, consumer rights to commercial litigation. It also provides a comprehensive legal framework that supports the operations of businesses regardless of their size. It ensures that businesses or other entities that engage in commerce adhere to set rules and guidelines, creating a fair and competitive commercial environment while providing legal remedies to resolve disputes.[6]


During the Middle Ages, Italy was the cradle of many modern institutions at the basis of commercial law. Around the 16th century, the trade of Italian maritime republics was the promoter of the birth of commercial law: the jurist Benvenuto Stracca, (Ancona, 1509–1579) published in 1553 the treatise De mercatura seu mercatore tractats; it was one of the first, if not the first, legal imprint dealing specifically with commercial law. This treatise focused on merchants and merchant contracts, practices and maritime rights, to which he soon added extensive discussions of bankruptcy, factors and commissions, third party transfers, and insurance. For this reason, Stracca is often considered the father of commercial law and author of the first Italian treaty about the insurance contract, beyond about the commerce. The legal work of Italian jurists had an impact on Holland, Germany, England and France.[7]

See also


  1. ^ "Britannica Money". Retrieved 2024-05-26.
  2. ^ "Commercial Law - The University of Auckland". Retrieved 2024-05-08.
  3. ^ "Commercial Law: An Overview". Legal Information Institute. Retrieved 7 July 2012.
  4. ^ "Legal Definition of COMMERCIAL LAW". Retrieved 2024-05-30.
  5. ^  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Commercial Law". Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 6 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 771.
  6. ^ "Commercial Law". Oxford Reference. Retrieved 2024-05-11.
  7. ^
    • Modernisation, National Identity and Legal Instrumentalism (Vol. I: Private Law): Studies in Comparative Legal History, Brill, 2019 (p. 118);
    • Vito Piergiovanni, The Courts and the Development of Commercial Law, Duncker & Humblot, 1987 (p. 14);
    • Encyclopedia Treccani, Benvenuto Stracca