Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Badgering Definition:

The buying of food products in one place and selling them elsewhere at a profit.

Related Terms: Engrossing, Forestalling, Regrating

An ancient common law offence but today, a perfectly legitimate commmercial practise. Indeed, any such law today would not only be an unnecesary restraint on trade, but would likely drive prices up, not down.

According to Wharton, a badger was:

"... a person who buys corn or victuals in one place, and carries them to another to sell and make profit by them."

Badgering could only be conducted by merchants who were licensed by the Crown, and gave the badger license to act as an engrosser.

Heydon explains:

"Many medieval statutes were enacted to prevent private individuals having exclusive control over the price of goods, particularly food.... In 1552 the most elaborate of these statutes defined the criminal offences of forestalling, regrating and engrossing .... These all involved the purchases of goods by muiddlemen before they reached retail markets so that their price was artificially increased.

"Certain travelling food salesmen, badgers, were exempted ... though provision was made for them to be licensed. The act was repealed in 1772 (12 George 3, Chapter 71)  because it was thought to have defeated its own purpose; by preventing the free circulation of food it (had) resulted in increasing prices."


  • Heydon, J. D., The Restraint of Trade Doctrine (London: Butterworths, 1971), page 3.

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