Thursday, 18 March 2010

Interesting bankruptcy piece by Brittain on the BBC site - but some seriously defective history!

The BBC have published an interesting piece by Ms Louise Brittain entitled: "What to expect if you go bankrupt." See here. The historical treatment is however seriously defective. I am not sure I can agree with Brittain's exposition of early English insolvency laws to any extent whatsoever because:

(1) Debtors were subjected to pillories, not stocks. To see some pillories see the picture here.

(2) The derivation of bankruptcy comes not from "old English" (is that something in the realms of Professor Tolkien and Anglo-Saxon?) but comes from two sources, one French and one Latin. See here for a brief discussion.

(3) Debtors' prison was an entirely separate jurisdiction to bankruptcy, hence the trader designation which Brittain highlights.


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