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Money in the Western Legal TraditionMiddle Ages to Bretton Woods$
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David Fox and Wolfgang Ernst

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198704744

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198704744.001.0001

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Multiple Currency Clauses and Currency Reform

Multiple Currency Clauses and Currency Reform

The Austrian Coupon Cases

(p.575) 26 Multiple Currency Clauses and Currency Reform
Money in the Western Legal Tradition

Rastko Vrbaski

Oxford University Press

This chapter presents a case study of the Austrian Coupon Cases of the 1870s and 1880s, which involved internationally issued bonds of Austrian railway companies that were originally denominated in multiple currencies. Some of these currencies became extinct when the German Empire was created in 1871 and they were merged into the German mark, which was based on gold and appreciated against Austrian silver currency. The disputes were about whether the debt was to be converted into the appreciated mark. The courts consistently ruled in favour of the bondholders, but their reasoning in the six principal decisions evolved: while the initial decisions applied a metallistic approach and treated the issue as a conflict of laws, the later decisions of the German Imperial Court developed a nominalist concept of monetary debt, and on that basis concluded that the law of the currency was universally applicable.

Keywords:   Austrian Coupon Cases, currency reform, monetary debt, nominalism, metallism, multiple currency clause, gold standard, German Imperial Court, lex monetae, Gustav Hartmann

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