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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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Monetary Obligations and the Fragmentation of the Sterling Monetary Union

Monetary Obligations and the Fragmentation of the Sterling Monetary Union

(p.708) 32 Monetary Obligations and the Fragmentation of the Sterling Monetary Union
Money in the Western Legal Tradition

David Fox

Oxford University Press

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.

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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