Commercial law and business law each refer to the same category of law, and fall underneath an umbrella that includes many other branches–some large, some small. Commercial law can be civil, private, or public depending on the business or issues at hand. The laws govern how businesses are run and how they interact with other organizations. They function to limit the illegal activity or unlawful consequences that result from common business practices both at home and abroad.
There are a number of branches of commercial law you might not have realized fall into this category.
Environmental regulations fall under commercial law. These laws determine how businesses can or cannot impact the natural environment. They govern air and water quality, waste management, and other forms of pollution often associated with big business. This branch also oversees how treaties and statutes attempt to limit the effects of any man-made pollution even at the individual level. It goes further to limit the effects of business industries all over the world.
Another branch of commercial law is international trade law. This branch is massive because it oversees all international commerce. How are international transactions handled legally? What forms of trade are allowed? What are the differences between governmental, personal, and commercial trade when it occurs across borders? How are contemporary laws regarding intellectual property (or IP) handled when different countries have a dispute, but have different domestic legal practices? This branch isn’t only massive; it’s also complicated.
A big part of capitalism is competition, which is another branch of commercial law that helps regulate how big companies are allowed grow. The idea behind this branch is to maintain fair trade and fair competition in order to help the economy grow uniformly across industries. If it doesn’t grow fairly, or if one company has too much control over its industry, then the economy suffers. This branch of law governs monopolies, mergers, acquisitions, and more.
You might hear commercial law referred to as corporate law in some circumstances, but it is mostly used to describe how larger organizations are formed, how they are funded, and how they are governed. There are also legal matters that arise when a corporation is dissolved that fall under this branch.
Other practice areas of law might be interconnected with business law. These include computing, electronic commerce, privacy, property, and taxation laws. Big businesses don’t just affect one another, and so these practice areas help govern how they affect consumers as well.