Monetary obligations and the fragmentation of the Sterling Monetary Union

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Abstract

This chapter focuses on four decisions considering the fragmentation of the sterling monetary union—a loose legal structure that linked the monetary systems of the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand between the 1860s and the late 1920s. Each country denominated its circulating money and monetary obligations in pounds, and identified the pound as a unit of account with the gold sovereign coin. The union began to break up in 1929 during the Great Depression. The chapter concentrates on Adelaide Electric Supply Company Ltd. v. Prudential Assurance Co. Ltd., a House of Lords decision arising from the Australian devaluation of 1930–31, and some of the later cases which distinguished it. The decisions evidence the gradual recognition in law that the sterling union had broken up, and that Australia and New Zealand had autonomous monetary systems.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMoney in the Western Legal Tradition
Subtitle of host publicationMiddle Ages to Bretton Woods
EditorsDavid Fox, Wolfgang Ernst
Place of PublicationOxford; New York
PublisherOxford University Press
Chapter32
Pages708-732
Number of pages25
ISBN (Print)9780198704744
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jan 2016

Keywords

  • monetary unions
  • monetary sovereignty
  • sovereign coin
  • pound sterling history
  • unit of account
  • Australian economic history
  • New Zealand economic history
  • exchange rates history

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