UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Norm evolution without the state : an examination of the unique nature of commercial law Druzin, Bryan Howard


The discussion examines the idea that because of its relatively unique nature, commercial law has the distinct ability to evolve and function in the absence of a central coercive authority. While law of a non-commercial nature generally requires the backing of a state through which to derive its efficacy, a great deal of commercial law as it exists today evolves often in the absence of a single coercive authority, shaped largely by market forces outside the purview of any one state power. To this end, we look primarily at transnational commercial law, specifically at what is commonly understood as the new law merchant. It is the central contention of this paper that commercial law stands apart from other forms of law in that it is uniquely equipped to generate norms in situations where a single legislative power is notably not present, as it is largely impacted by the choices and behaviour of individual economic actors. We examine the notion that the manner of interaction implied by commercial intercourse involves a higher degree of overall engagement. This we term ‘high engagement’, which we divide into two elements: repetition and game creation, which with reciprocity, works in tandem to produce identifiable legal norms and the subsequent compliance with them. In Part I, after presenting a brief overview of the idea of reciprocity and spontaneous law theory, a more detailed explanation of the notion of engagement is offered. In Part II, we set out exactly how high engagement facilitates the development of and compliance with legal norms. Finally, the conclusion this paper reaches is that this element of high engagement, a salient characteristic of commercial interaction, plays a decisive role in the ability of commercial law to evolve and function in the vacuum of a central legislative authority.

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