Between the passage of the Bubble Act in 1720 and the sweeping reforms of the General Incorporation Act of 1844, the legal framework of business organization in England remained remarkably stagnant despite the profound economic and structural changes wrought by the Industrial Revolution. Originally published in 2000, this book analyzes why this discrepancy occurred, especially when other nations of that time, whose economies were far less developed, were evolving more permissive laws of business organization. Employing extensive primary source archival material, Ron Harris shows how the institutional development of major forms of business organization - the business corporation, the partnership, the trust, the unincorporated joint-stock company - evolved and how English law finally took account of these developments.
• Was the first book-length treatment of the topic since the 1930s • Text based on extensive research into primary archival sources • Unique analysis of business-law relationship in early modern England
Introduction; 1. The legal framework; Part I. Before 1720: 2. The pre-1720 business corporation; 3. The Bubble Act, its passage and its effects; Part II. 1721–1810: 4. Two distinct paths of organizational development: transport and insurance; 5. The joint-stock business corporation; 6. Trusts, partnerships, and the unincorporated company; 7. The progress of the joint-stock organization; Part III. 1800–44: 8. The attitudes of the business community; 9. The joint-stock company in court; 10. The joint-stock company in parliament.
Review of the hardback: 'Ron Harris' Industrializing English Law is an important addition to the literature on business organisation during early industrial capitalism which can lay genuine claim to being the most significant contribution to the field since those made by Hunt and duBois over sixty years ago.' Modern Law Review
Review of the hardback: '… exciting to read as well as a good source of reference. In the context of recent events such as the adoption of limited liability partnerships and the collapse of Enron, the book also provides a reminder that the legal framework within which commercial ventures take place is likely to remain under constant re-evaluation.' Cambridge Law Journal
Review of the hardback: 'This book deserves a wide readership: Ron Harris's study of the history of forms of business organisation from the early modern period down to 1844 and the emergence of the registered company form has important things to say to several constituencies … The fundamental merit of this book is that it shows in concrete detail that it is possible to discuss the historical relationships of law and the economy, using both economic and legal-historical methodology, without falling into the traps of a severely functionalist approach to law on the one hand, or a purely doctrinalist micro-narrative on the other. Harris has produced an extremely important book, and scholars in several fields of legal study will need to come to terms with his arguments.' Legal Studies