Federico Nania

On the origin of "freedom of trade" and the struggle against royal monopolies in England

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: Common Law; Rule of Reason; Competition Law; Freedom of Trade; Rule of Law.

The aim of this essay is to stress the relevance of the struggle against royal monopolies in England between XVI and XVII centuries both on the subject of protection of freedom and on that of the affirmation of the sovereignty of Parliament. The figure and the constitutional theory of Sir Edward Coke were crucial in limiting Crown's power in order to pursue freedom of trade and right to work; the great Chief Justice conducted - in some important cases on which the essay is focused - a battle against the royal prerogative of granting monopolies in the name of the common law, meant by Coke as a rule of reason higher than every other source of law. Though the passage to parliamentary sovereignty seems to put Coke's hypothesis of a controlling common law aside, the rule of law principle, as first elaborated by Dicey, does not deny the fundamental role of the courts, especially in protecting rights, as evidenced also by some recent developments of British constitutional system.

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