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'In the hope to have judged a good sentence as merchants' : arbitration as a litigation strategy in late medieval Bruges

Journal Contribution - Journal Article

Arbitration is a form of conflict resolution that was popular in commercial disputes in medieval times. Its informal nature and ability to mediate the shortcomings of the formal courts have made it the supreme example of merchants solving their own disputes. However, there has been relatively little inquiry into its actual practice. This article investigates the functions and practice of arbitration in medieval Bruges, where arbitration was frequently used as a form of conflict resolution. This was not because merchants preferred extra-judicial proceedings, but because arbitration was a necessary procedure to deal with the shortcomings of the judicial framework of the aldermen of Bruges. Arbitration was exercised as a specific consequence of the context in which Bruges found itself in the second half of the fifteenth century. This context, however, also undermined the procedure. The ambivalent attitude of the Bruges aldermen towards arbitration and its impossibility to appeal allowed some undertaking merchants to use the procedure to their own benefit, and not necessarily to the benefit of commerce.
Journal: TIJDSCHRIFT VOOR RECHTSGESCHIEDENIS-REVUE D HISTOIRE DU DROIT-THE LEGAL HISTORY REVIEW
ISSN: 0040-7585
Issue: 3-4
Volume: 89
Pages: 439 - 480
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