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Litigating abroad : merchant’s expectations regarding procedure before foreign courts according to the hanseatic privileges (12th - 16th c.)

By Albrecht Cordes


Between the 12th and 16th centuries the Hanseatic merchants obtained extremely important privileges from the rulers of the countries with whom they traded. These secured their commercial and legal status and the autonomy of their staples in Flanders, England, Norway, Denmark and Russia. Within these privileges no other subject receives so extensive a treatment as court procedure. Here, the single most important concern of the Hanseatic merchants was their position in front of alien courts. The article analyses the great attention given to court procedure in the twenty main Hanseatic privileges: What did the merchants require? Which procedural rules were necessary to encourage them to submit their disputes to alien public court instead of taking the matter into their own hands and turning to extra-judicial methods to resolve matters, e.g. cancellation of business relations, boycotts or even trade wars? This analysis suggests that the two most important concerns reflected in the procedural rules were to avoid delay to the next trading trip and to ensure a rational law of proof. The former was addressed by pressing for short-term scheduling and swift judgment and by the dispensation from appearing before the court in person. The latter included avoidance of duels and other ordeals and the attempt to obtain parity by appointing half of the jurors from Hanseatic cities

Topics: ddc:340, ddc:940
Year: 2013
OAI identifier:

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