Of commercial lawyers

It was one of the epochal achievements of Austrian legislation at the beginning of the third millennium that it extended its traditional view of so-called commercial law according to the Commercial Code (Handels-Gesetzbuch – HGB) from the ‘salesman’ (the dominance of trade above industry and the so-called ‘tertiary sector’ of the service industry is now only recognisable in the third world) to the ‘contractor’ of the newly re-termed ‘corporate law’ in the ‘Corporate Code book’ (“Unternehmens-Gesetzbuch” – UGB).

In contrast to this, the classic concept of the ‘commercial lawyer’ is still as watery and unclearly defined as every concept of ‘commerce’ itself. Those who, as a lawyer, do not keep in mind that legal decisions always have economic consequences (and that conversely most are only called upon by legal advisors when the topic concerns the achievement and protection of economic advantages) are just as wrong as those who claim that there are lawyers who exist who have nothing to do with economic affairs.

If even the person on whom the lawyer’s advice will always be centred, can either be a ‘natural’ or a ‘legal’ person, ‘corporations’ will always be made up of people. Business partnerships with the unlimited personal liability of general partners and limited liability associations (Gesellschaften ”mbH”), public limited companies and co-operatives, public bodies and charitable foundations all have a status as being legal subjects in civil law. They have equal legitimacy as individual economic traders and their ‘individual enterprises’ (of late often described, not without reason, as “Ich-AG” – a “Me-PLC”). And the fact that they generally pursue an economic goal with legal means, proves the inseparable connectivity of the legal system and the durable constancy of the unity of our legal profession. This counteracts the assertions of some people who think this connectivity is degenerating into irreconcilable antitheses between ‘the big powers’ and ‘the small powers’, ‘town’ and ‘countryside’ – in fact ‘general’ and ‘commercial’ law firms.

What should, however, not be denied here is that not everything in human life (including that of the lawyer) has to have something to do with money (and power). Furthermore, essential things are often those which cannot be offset with material counter-value and are therefore “priceless”. Real trust in your lawyer is something which cannot usually be bought.



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