This paper tracks the evolution of the codification of commercial law and company law, also known as business law. While the literature on codification in general is vast, little attention has been dedicated to the importance of business law in this context although the first major moves towards codification were achieved in this field. A comparative and historical survey of the codification of business law in France, England and Germany illustrates how the European legal landscape has been affected by the process of casting the law into statutory form. Indeed, despite the commonly held misconception that there is “a” commercial code, the legislative responses to the needs of commerce have varied widely from country to country, for while company law was always in focus, the rest of the corpus differs substantially. The code de commerce of 1807 was primarily of procedural nature, while the German commercial code of 1863 created its own “private law cosmos” and the late English codes adopted yet another, very selective, strategy. The aim of this comparative study is to understand the foundations of the legal institutions of the 19th century which still form the basis of our current statutes. This in turn allows to make some predictions for likely future developments.
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