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Cities of CommerceThe Institutional Foundations of International Trade in the Low Countries, 1250-1650$
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Oscar Gelderblom

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780691142883

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691142883.001.0001

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Conflict Resolution

Conflict Resolution

(p.102) Chapter 5 Conflict Resolution
Cities of Commerce

Oscar Gelderblom

Princeton University Press

This chapter examines the various ways in which merchants dealt with actual disputes over business transactions. Drawing on the available evidence on commercial litigation in Bruges, Antwerp, and Amsterdam, it shows that merchants used a combination of peer pressure, arbitration, local court proceedings, and, occasionally, appeals to central courts to end their disputes, albeit with an overwhelming preference for amicable settlement. The chapter first provides an overview of amicable settlement in the three cities before discussing commercial litigation in Bruges, the courts in Antwerp, and conflict resolution in Amsterdam. It also considers the role of the central courts in settling disputes between merchants and concludes with an analysis of law merchant (lex mercatoria) in the three cities. The chapter shows that urban magistrates allowed merchants to use arbiters to settle disputes amicably and according to their own chosen standard.

Keywords:   merchants, commercial litigation, Bruges, Antwerp, Amsterdam, arbitration, central courts, amicable settlement, conflict resolution, urban magistrates

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