Abstract: Then what is the use of the Board of Trade? Bankruptcy Regulation, Self-Regulation, and Politics in Mid-Nineteenth-Century Montreal

Daniel Simeone


The "first matter which engaged [the] attention" of the Board of Trade of Montreal was the "nature of the law concerning bankrupts." The Board of Trade played a self-regulatory role in several areas of commerce and over certain commercial disputes. The Board exercised its political influence in various policy areas, with particular focus on bankruptcy legislation. Following the Insolvents Act of 1864, however, the role of the Board of Trade expanded to include the appointment of bankruptcy trustees, and through both judicious legal interpretation and expanded statutory power, the Board played a role as a regulatory actor in the bankruptcy regime. The bankruptcy regime is complicated by the context of the single parliament of the United Canadas passing legislation intended to work in both common-law Upper Canada and civil-law Lower Canada, with the attendant different approaches to commercial law. By post-Confederation federal jurisdiction over bankruptcy and insolvency were coexisting uneasily with provincial jurisdiction over property and civil rights.