Business law covers commerce and transactions, including the supply of services and the sale of products. A constantly evolving business environment means that business law continuously changes, as countries and jurisdictions legislate to address new technologies and ways of trading.
Early contract law
Centuries ago, common law established basic rights and was followed by the law of tort. Later, contract case law formed legal precedents, one well-known example being the law of offer and acceptance as detailed in the judgement of the case of Carlill v. Carbolic Smoke Ball Company (1892).
The Sale of Goods Act followed in the late twentieth century and other modern consumer protection legislation has been introduced since, sometimes to protect borrowers or lenders. In many cases, more complex Acts of Parliament or regulations have placed legal requirements on larger corporations.
Costs and benefits
Some business experts consider that small businesses are over burdened by too many legal requirements, which they often see as time-consuming ‘red tape’. There is also a financial cost in keeping up with changing legislation – and possible fines for non-compliance, even if unintentional. Nonetheless, business law also serves to protect companies, traders and the owners’ interests from being adversely affected by illegal actions of customers, suppliers or competitors. Some of these regulations are designed to prevent the public and employees – including health and safety.
Protecting businesses and individuals
Other areas covered by business law include employment, insurance requirements, anti-discrimination legislation and intellectual property (IP) rights, which cover design and trademark copyright. Data Protection law also covers information or data retained about employees, customers or suppliers.