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Hague Convention of 1912 Relating to Bills of Exchange and Promissory Notes: A Comparison with Anglo-American Law, 11 Illinois Law Review 137 (1916)


Notwithstanding its common origin, the law relating to bills of exchange has assumed a great variety of forms in the different countries. Three principal systems developed: the French, the German, and the Anglo-American. The greatest divergence existed in matters of detail. Even in the most recent times there were not less than forty different bills of exchange acts outside the Anglo-American group. With the rapid growth of international trade, during the last century, the advantages of a uniform commercial law among the civilized nations of the world became more and more apparent. In the matter of •bills and notes, especially, it seemed that such unification was within the realm of actual realization. At the beginning of the twentieth century the time appeared ripe' at last for the consummation of this plan. At a conference, which met at The Hague in 1910, an advance draft of a uniform law relating to bills and notes was prepared. At a second conference, in 1912, a Uniform Law and Convention were actually adopted. The convention entered into as a result of these conferences, has been signed by practically all of the European countries, by an umber of Central and South American states, and by China and Japan. The British and American delegates made -it clear-at both conferences, that Great Britain and the United States, though greatly interested in the international unification of the law, were not in a position to become parties to an international convention.- The signatory powers to the convention have assumed the obligation to adopt the Uniform Law textually without any derogation, except in so far as they may be expressly authorized by the convention itself. As long as the convention is in force in a given country, its provisions wholly supplant the former national law. It deals with the entire subject of bills and notes, and does not apply solely to international operations. The contracting powers are not bound indefinitely, however, and may denounce the convention after three years from the date of the first deposit of ratifications. Defects in the- present convention are to be corrected at a future conference which shall be called by the government of the Netherlands after a lapse of five years from the first deposit of ratifications or after the lapse of two years, upon the request; of any five contracting states.

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