Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Mercantile Law Definition:

The law as it relates to merchants and commerce; commercial law.

Related Terms: Law Merchant

In Decision #131/87, the tribunal adopted these words:

"Mercantile means ... pertaining to or characteristic of merchants or the business of merchants; having to do with trade or commerce or the business of buying or selling merchandise, trading, commercial, conducting or acting on business principles."

Historically, however, the term mercantile law related not generically to the business of merchants: commercial law - but more specifically to international commercial law, and synonymous at the time with the term law merchant.

Ballentine's Law Dictionary defines mercantile law simply as "same as law merchant" but a mercantile establishment as "any place were goods, wares and merchandise are offered for sale".

The term is being phased out of the common law and replaced mostly by the word commercial. For example, a mercantile agent is simply a commercial agent.


  • Ballentine, J., Ballentine's Law Dictionary, 3rd Ed. (Rochester: The Lawyers Co-operative Publishing Company, 1969)
  • Decision 131/87, WCATR (Workers Compensation Appeals Tribunal Reporter) 51
  • Duhaime, Lloyd, Legal Definition of Law Merchant

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