This past fall, James Muir, University of Alberta, published Law, Debt, and Merchant Power: The Civil Courts of 18th Century Halifax with the University of Toronto Press. From the publisher:
In the early history of Halifax (1749-1766), debt litigation was extremely common. People from all classes frequently used litigation and its use in private matters was higher than almost all places in the British Empire in the 18th century.
In Law, Debt, and Merchant Power, James Muir offers an extensive analysis of the civil cases of the time as well as the reasons behind their frequency. Muir’s lively and detailed account of the individuals involved in litigation reveals a paradoxical society where debtors were also debt-collectors. Law, Debt, and Merchant Power demonstrates how important the law was for people in their business affairs and how they shaped it for their own ends.
Praise for the book:
"This book is admirably accurate about the ways the law actually worked in practice, and refreshingly careful to avoid anachronism and over-reach. Muir demonstrates an impressive knowledge of eighteenth-century judicial procedures, and he offers a persuasive analysis of colonial legal culture." -Jerry Bannister
"Law, Debt, and Merchant Power is a path breaking analysis of how civil law was used in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Muir’s meticulous analysis of civil suits illustrates how important the law was and how bourgeois merchants shaped the administration of law to their needs." -Elizabeth Mancke
“At the higher methodological level, the work both fascinates and provokes… Muir’s book is an interesting, original, and important work, part of the new wave of regional scholarship that integrates greater Nova Scotia into the history of the eighteenth-century British Atlantic.” -Barry Cahill
Full information is available here.