Commercial law provides the rules that merchants and others involved in commerce must follow as they conduct business amongst themselves and with consumers. It governs the sales of goods and services, negotiable instruments, security interests, leases, principal and agent relationships, contracts of carriage, and intellectual property. In a broad sense, commercial law also encompasses related issues like business bankruptcy and tax planning.
Commercial law differs from IP law. IP law is more of a “regulatory” law in that it provides specific rules for operation of the property right. Commercial law, in contrast, is an “enabling” law. Its purpose is to support commerce by validating common practices, while allowing parties autonomy to tailor specific approaches in different situations.
Commercial law touches everyday lives through every contractual dealing undertaken. A contract, usually in the form of a commercial bargain involving some form of exchange of goods or services for a price, is a legally binding agreement made by two or more persons, enforceable by the courts. As such they may be written or oral, and to be binding the following must exist: an offer and unqualified acceptance thereof, intention to create legal relations, valuable consideration, and genuine consent (i.e., an absence of fraud). The terms must be legal, certain, and possible of performance.
Contractual relations, as the cornerstone of all commercial transactions, have resulted in the development of specific bodies of law within the scope of business law regulating (1) sale of goods—i.e., implied terms and conditions, the effects of performance, and breach of such contracts and remedies available to the parties; (2) the carriage of goods, including both national and international rules governing insurance, bills of lading, charter parties, and arbitrations; (3) consumer credit agreements; and (4) labour relations determining contractual rights and obligations between employers and employees and the regulation of trade unions.