Law, Debt and Merchant Power: The Civil Courts of Eighteenth-Century Halifax

By James Muir, Professor of Law and History, University of Alberta, published by the University of Toronto Press.

This is a path-breaking study of the every day work of civil law and civil courts. It examines the type of litigation pursued (mostly debt), how the courts worked, and how the economy operated in a society with very little cash and in which credit was the lifeblood of commerce. Muir employs both quantitative and qualitative analyses of all extant case files and explains how eighteenth-century court procedure worked. He situates his study against the society and economy of Halifax, analyzing who sued who and why and how the legal system fit into patterns of economic relations and activity.