Relaxing whilst doing Competition Law is not an Oxymoron

A (kinda tricky) quizz

with 13 comments

If we asked you what was the first antitrust legislation ever in force in part of the territory of what is now the United States you would probably respond that it was the Sherman Act.

This answers is wrong.

What then was the first antitrust law ever in force in America??

We can give you two hints: (i) it was drafted in the 13th century; (ii) the person who promoted its drafting is one of the 23 lawmakers depicted in the marble bas-reliefs of the House of Representatives chamber of the United States Capitol.

Our quizz will be open for 24 hours. You can submit your answers either as comments to this post (they won´t be made public until tomorrow) or via email to (I anticipate that I won´t be able to reply; actually, the reason why we´re posting a quizz is because these are busy -and fun- times at work).

Those who get the answer right are entitled to a free beer.

P.S. Since, as you know, “free” products are rarely ever free, the beer will be paid by Nicolas, who doesn´t yet know about it 😉

Written by Alfonso Lamadrid

25 January 2012 at 4:48 pm

13 Responses

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  1. I have an incorrect answer that is close:

    In part 7 of Pollock’s The Genius of the Common Law, 13 Columbia Law Review 1, at 2-3, we read:

    “It was an unlearned local court, in 1299 or 1300, that fined several chandlers of Norwich for having made a covenant among themselves that none should sell a pound of candles cheaper than another.”

    The rest of that article contains more discussion of guilds, local monopolies, and what we may call early competition law.

    Martin Holterman

    25 January 2012 at 5:39 pm

  2. I suppose this will be dealing with something of relevance to the taxation of the wool trade? 🙂


    25 January 2012 at 6:28 pm

    • It is the laws of las Siete Partidas passed by Alfonso X, El Sabio (1265). The Fifth section of the Seven Laws entitled “Of the shortages and bids that merchants create between themselves through oats and guilds” was the legal provision prohibiting traders from engaging in price-fixing and output restriction.

      Instead of a free beer could the prize be a meeting with Mr.Petit ?? (to discuss the legal market in Brussels and the Competition and IP law LL.M. in Liege)

      Tatiana Siakka

      25 January 2012 at 8:38 pm

  3. I guess it would be an English trading law of some description applicable pre-independence?

    Unless the native Americans had their own antitrust rules, which they may well have done..

    DC Lawyer

    25 January 2012 at 9:42 pm

  4. “Siete partidas” by Alfonso X “The Sage”: “On the shortage and bids that merchants create between themselves through oaths and guilds”(1265) , i.e. price fixing:)


    25 January 2012 at 10:05 pm

    • The Code was elaborated in Spain (Castile), however it was widely applicable in the territory of the Latin America including the territory of the modern USA up to the 19th century.
      Seems to be correct 🙂


      25 January 2012 at 10:56 pm

  5. Pass.

    Any chance I qualify for the free beer regardless? 😉

    Law Actually

    26 January 2012 at 1:08 am

  6. There might be third hint: nomen est omen 😉


    26 January 2012 at 2:02 pm

  7. Alfonso X, El Sabio (the “Wise”). The code was Siete Partidas.
    The Siete Partidas was in force in Latin America until the modern codification movement (1822–1916); until the beginning of the 19th century, they were even in effect in the parts of the United States, such as Louisiana, that had previously belonged to the Spanish empire and used civil law. Furthermore, they served as the legal foundation for the formation of the governing juntas that were established in both Spain and Spanish America after the imprisonment of King Fernando VII during the Peninsular War.

    Did the economist have the right guess?

    Lorenzo Clementi

    26 January 2012 at 2:56 pm

  8. Alfonso, thanks Pal, this is gonna cost me a fortune …

    Nicolas Petit

    26 January 2012 at 3:31 pm

  9. @Clifff: Nice one, I´d thought of including a hint along those lines but I couldn´t think of anything that was not too obvious. Yours is excellent!

    @Nico: My pleasure!

    Alfonso Lamadrid

    26 January 2012 at 4:34 pm

  10. May I put a relevant quiz up?

    What is the first antitrust trial ever recorded in history?

    The earliest known antitrust case goes back to at least 386 B.C. in Athens, where grain merchants found themselves on trial for their lives for hoarding grain and collusion.

    Click to access 221241.pdf

    Dimitris Temperis

    29 January 2012 at 12:55 pm

  11. Related to the last post of Dimitris:
    The International Lawyer , “An Antitrust Case in Ancient Greek Law” (22: Summer 1988: 451-456)

    George Pedakakis

    31 January 2012 at 2:46 pm

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