Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Forestalling Definition:

The purchase of food products before it arrives, or as as it comes to a food market, with the intent to sell the same again at a higher price.

Related Terms: Badgering, Engrossing, Regrating

Le Ley's ancient law dictionary defines the long-repealed offence of forestalling as follows:

"Forestaller, he who buys corn, cattle or other merchandize (sic) whatsoever, by the way as it comes to markets, fairs, or such like places to be sold, to the intent to sell the same again at a more high and dear price, in prejudice of the commonwealth and people.

"The pain for such as are convict thereof is, for the first time, two months imprisonment.... The second time, imprisonment by the space of half a year. The third time, imprisonment during the king's pleasure, and judgment of the pillory and nto forfeit all his goods and chattels."

Gosse defines forestalling as follows:

"[F]orestalling was the buying of merchandise on the way to market, dissuading persons to bring their goods there or persuading them them (sic) to enhance the price when there....."

Note also the context of the offence as explained by Heydon:

"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 middlemen 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 The act was repealed in 1772 (12 George 3, Chapter 71)  because it was thought to have defeated its own purpose; by preventing the free circulation of food it (had) resulted in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."


  • Gosse, Richard, The Law of Competition in Canada (Toronto: Carswell, 1962), page 15
  • Heydon, J. D., The Restraint of Trade Doctrine (London: Butterworths, 1971), page 3.
  • Les termes de La Ley: or Certain Difficult and Obscure Words and Terms of the Common and Statute Laws of England Now in Use Expounded and Explained, 1st American edition from the last London  of 1721 edition (Boston: Watson & Bangs, 1812).

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