Commercial law is effectively the legislation that covers most transactions in the life of Joe Public, from the fine balance of a marriage contract to the more fundamental protection of intellectual property. Corporate law, on the other hand, is the exclusive domain of big businesses and concentrates on the intricacies of corporate governance, finance and the ongoing cycle of mergers, acquisitions and insolvencies.
Although the two terms are effectively interchangeable, commercial law has a broader application in that it is not only applied to business alone; whereas corporate law is a specific branch of the law that concentrates on all aspects of business.
Thus, when one ties the knot, finances a car or house or even finds alluvial gold in the stream running through our property, we have to take advice from a commercial lawyer and follow the legislation set out in commercial law.
In South Africa, commercial and corporate law is effectively governed by a handful of Acts promulgated over the years, including:
The National Credit Act of 2005
The Competition Act of 1998
The Close Corporations Act of 1984
The Alienation of Land Act 1981
The Credit Agreements Act of 1980
The Companies Act of 1973
Commercial law applies to virtually any and all transactions and it is advisable to contact reputable attorneys before embarking on any deal or contract. Top flight lawyers will ensure that the deal is fair and, more importantly, in your favour.
South African law firms can and will give imperative advice on the following:
The administration of estates
The sale and carriage of goods
The acquisition of real estate
The protection of intellectual property
Inward and outward investment options
Tax, both personal and corporate
Marine, fire, life and accident insurance
The dedicated corporate attorney will take care of more pressing issues facing you and your business, including
Acquisitions, mergers and takeovers
Banking and finance
Commercial contracts, including lease agreements, service and management agreements and licences agreements
Stock exchange listings
In a nutshell then, commercial law involves the areas of law that have particular relevance to commerce and commercial transactions whereas corporate law deals with big businesses.