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Monopoly in United Kingdom

Meaning of Monopoly

The following is an old definition of Monopoly [1]: A license or privilege allowed by the sovereign for the sole buying and selling, making, working, or using of anything whatsoever; whereby the subject in general is restrained from that liberty of manufacturing or trading which he had before. An exclusive right granted to a few, of something which was before of common right. Lord Coke’s definition is ” an institution by the king, by his grant, commission, or otherwise, to any persons or corporations, of or for the sole buying, selling, making, working or using of every thing, whereby any persons or corporations are sought to be restrained of any freedom or liberty they had before, or hindered in their lawful trade.” A grant which gives to one person, or to one association of persons, an exclusive right to buy, sell, make, or use a given thing or commodity, or to pursue a designated employment. The prerogative of granting such rights having been abused, the courts adjudged them illegal, and Parliament, by statute of 21 James I (1624), c. 3, abrogated the practice, except with respect to patents for fourteen years. A patent resembles a contract more nearly than it resembles a monopoly, in the common- law sense of the latter term. All such grants relating to any known trade or manufacture have been held by all the judges of England to be void at common law as destroying the freedom of trade, discouraging labor and industry, restraining persons from getting an honest livelihood, and putting it in the power of the grantees to enhance the price of commodities. A legislative grant of an exclusive right to supply water or gas to a municipality and its inhabitants is a grant of a franchise vested in the State, in consideration of the performance of a public service, and, after performance by the grantee, is a contract protected by the Constitution from impairment. Such franchise is violated by a grant to an individual of the right to supply his premises with water (or gas) by the same means, namely, by pipes laid through the public streets. In making such grants, a State legislature does not part with the police power and duty of protecting the public health, the public morals, and the public safety, as one or the other may be involved in the exercise of that franchise by the grantee. Though the use of a street for water mains may not be of common right, yet when the use would assist in the maintenance of a claim of exclusive right to sell water, the courts, in view of the constitutional declaration that monopolies ” shall never be allowed,” will give no sanction to a contract entered into by the city resulting in a monopoly. The exercise of such a franchise, involving, as it does, a use of the public streets, is subject to control. Plaintiff by its cliarter was given tha exclusive horse-railway franchise, of Omaha for fifty years. Defendant, under a city ordinance, consented to by the people, undertook to lay a cable tramway on streets occupied by the plaintiff. The court refused to enjoin the defendant, holding that the grant of the monopoly was of forms of transportation then known, and not of such as might subsequently be devised. ” The fuel company has placed itself in the position of seeking to obtain from the railroad company, not merely favorable rates, but a discrimination against other parties. The result will be the building up of a monopoly in the coal business. A party who voluntarily enters into such a contract is in no position to ask the courts that anything be strained in his behalf. If the fuel company Qould make similar contracts with other transportation companies, running to other fields, it would soon be master of the coal business of the northwestern country. It would have the monopoly of that business, and could dictate prices to the consumer and starvation wages to the producers; and, when the first contracts had expired, it could dictate transportation rates to the railroad companies. . . It is impossible to disintegrate the contract, and say that one part is good and the other bad. The parties entered into it as a whole, and the courts should not try to divide it in order to uphold parts. If one part is void and the rest valid, the contract must be read as an entirety, and the whole declared void. Any other doctrine would result in building up monopolies. Persons who enter into such contracts need never expect, no matter what the conduct of the other party, recognition in courts of justice. See Combination; Happiness; Police; Privilege, 1, Special; Railroad; Trade-Mark; Trust.


Notes and References

  1. Concept of Monopoly provided by the Anderson Dictionary of Law (1889) (Dictionary of Law consisting of Judicial Definitions and Explanations of Words, Phrases and Maxims and an Exposition of the Principles of Law: Comprising a Dictionary and Compendium of American and English Jurisprudence; William C. Anderson; T. H. Flood and Company, Law Publishers, Chicago, United States)

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Schema Summary

  • Article Name: Monopoly
  • Author: Anthony Lincoln
  • Description: Meaning of Monopoly The following is an old definition of Monopoly [1]: A license or privilege allowed by the sovereign for [...]

This entry was last updated: January 4, 2017


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