R. W. Kostal

in Law and English Railway Capitalism 1825–1875

Published in print October 1997 | ISBN: 9780198265672
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191682926 | DOI:

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The dialectical interpretation of the preceding narrative chapters is based on four interpretative generalizations: that while there was some integration of the worlds of railway managers and railway lawyers, these worlds were, and were perceived to be, fundamentally separate and frequently antagonistic; that in the period 1825–75 the industry's engagement with the law and lawyers was initiated mainly by the business decisions and strategies of railway company officials; that English law and lawyering, although in some ways facilitative of the commercial aims of railway capitalism, were also significant and damaging impediments to profitable railway capitalism; and that the engagement of the legal system with the railway industry caused unanticipated but profound changes to both sets of institutions. While it is true that the world's first steam railway companies were inherently legal entities imbricated with legality, legal principles and ideas had a life and logic of their own. The stark ‘otherness’ of the legal world was precisely what railway capitalists and journalists identified as its first and most hated characteristic. It is because lawyers and their institutions remained overwhelmingly a world apart from railway capitalism that we can sensibly describe their interaction in terms of a dialectic.

Keywords: railway capitalism; lawyers; lawyering dialectic; railway industry; English law

Chapter.  6688 words. 

Subjects: History of Law

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