By Dr Eugene Brink
The law consists of many branches of which commercial law is a very important yet complex one.
It isn’t the simplest question, but what is commercial law? According to VZLR Attorneys in Pretoria, “commercial law pertains to those legal principles applied in the world of business and applies to persons and entities who are engaged in business and commercial transactions”.
José Rivera, managing editor of Legalmatch.com, says commercial law regulates the conduct of persons, merchants and businesses who are engaged in trade, sales, and commerce. It is alternatively known as business law and it is a broad area of law that interacts with many other areas of law such as environmental regulation, real estate, and food and safety laws.
Melanie Louw, the head tutor of the University of Cape Town Contract and Commercial Law online short course, says commercial law can also be referred to as corporate law or mercantile law. “Mercantile law talks to the idea of merchants and traders because corporate law talks specifically to those who are dealing in a business of exchanges and transactions, whether that’s for products or services. Anytime there’s a sale or purchase of goods or services, commercial law would be considered an important feature along with contract law.
“If you are hoping for a career in commercial law and law of contracts, you’d be dealing specifically with legislation that refers to any business transaction between any organisation and their clients.”
The commercial field of law ranges widely from the ordinary sale of goods in a store to large mergers and acquisitions by and between multinational corporations, according to VZLR. And commercial law requires wide-ranging skill sets and lawyers specialising in this field must be knowledgeable in many facets of the law.
In turn, commercial law is subdivided into several subfields. These include company law, corporate law, corporate governance, competition law (antitrust), consumer protection, contract law, environmental law, intellectual property law, copyright law, patent law, trademark law, international trade law and labour law.
It is important to understand that commercial law does not operate in isolation. It intersects with many other areas such as tax law, criminal law and trusts law.
Rivera says commercial law relates to some distinct legal issues and foremost are contract violations. Transactions between businesses and customers often involve a contract and this could frequently give rise to legal issues pertaining to the terms of the contract. For instance, a breach of contract can cause significant losses for either party.
Other legal issues and disputes include:
- advertising and marketing disputes and violations;
- unfair competition issues;
- starting a new business;
- transferring or terminating a business;
- consumer complaints; and
- protection of intellectual property and trade secrets.
The work includes a number of aspects, such as drawing up deeds of sale, supply and distribution agreements, leases and agreements relating to developing real estate, devising financing and funding agreements, as well as partnership agreements.
LegalMatch, 2021, “Commercial Law”, https://www.legalmatch.com/law-library/article/what-is-commercial-law.html.
Melanie Louw, 2021, “What is commercial law all about?”, https://www.getsmarter.com/blog/career-advice/commercial-law-faqs/.
The Student Lawyer, 2020, “Commercial law”, https://thestudentlawyer.com/commercial-law/.
VZLR Attorneys, 2020, “Corporate & Commercial Law”, https://www.getsmarter.com/blog/career-advice/commercial-law-faqs/.