The Federation Press

Business Law


Business Law is a clear and accurate statement of the foundations of the Australian legal system, the law of contract and the major topics in commercial law.

Known for facilitating a sound and comprehensive grasp of the subject, Business Law has a strong following amongst the business and legal communities. Company directors and others in business value it as a tool to understand legal concepts involved in everyday dealings and business agreements. Legal practitioners with diverse commercial practices find it valuable as a first resource for themselves, and ideal for their clients’ use.

Contents include:

  • the nature, sources and structure of Australian law
  • detailed coverage of the law of contract
  • business structures, such as companies, partnerships, trusts and agencies
  • negligence and liability
  • restrictions on trade practices, and consumer protection
  • banking and financial transactions law
  • real and intellectual property law, including copyright, patents and trade marks
  • insurance
  • credit law and bankruptcy.


The work continues to provide both students and practitioners with a useful guide through the various principles which together constitute “business law”. ... Given the diversity of topics covered, the text cannot not does it purport to be a treatise on each of those topics. This does not, however, in any way diminish its usefulness. - Antony Lo Surdo, Australian Banking & FInance Law Bulletin, Nov/Dec 2004

The book’s greatest strengths are its clear, unaffected language and logical structure. Its analysis of legal principles and legislation are concise, and whenever possible, free of convoluted legal language. Business Law is eminently readable, but without sacrificing accuracy. ... The emphasis on contract law makes Business Law invaluable for people involved in business and commerce. I suspect that, in some cases, a quick read through the relevant chapter of Business Law may provide a layperson with enough information to negate the need to speak with their solicitor. ... The chapter entitled “Judge-made Law and Statute Law” and its discussion of common law, equity and statute law is, perhaps, the clearest and most concise treatment of the sources of Australian law that I have read. With its concise and accessible language, underpinned by some thorough research, it is easy to see why Business Law is currently in its 12th edition. - Rocco Cecere, Ethos (ACT Law Society), Dec 2004

It hardly seems 18 months has passed since I reviewed the 11th edition of this well-known and excellent publication. The 11th edition is testimony to the number of times that I have referred to it as it sits on my bookshelf, slightly off centre, and looks well used. ... Over the years I have referred this book to many such people, particularly company executives and the like and have, on several occasions, loaned my copy for them to have the opportunity to consider. By so doing, I thought they would instantly see its value and purchase their own copy. Most have done, which confirms my thoughts of the real value of it. If you are not familiar with this book, then I would be surprised. It covers areas such as the law of Torts, Criminal law, Contract law and its ingredients, mistake, innocent and fraudulent misrepresentation, illegality, inequality as between the parties to a contract, breaches and, to use a term brought from America, Anticipatory breaches, Sale of Goods, Principal and Agent, Trusts, Succession, Intellectual Property, Consumer Credit law and the Trade Practices Acts (Cwlth), Insurance Law, Credit law, Bankruptcy, Banking and Bills of Exchange, not to forget Company law. Thus, no matter what the field in which you practice, there must be times when the greatest favour you can do to a client, is to point them towards Gillies, encourage them to have it in their Boardroom or library and more importantly, to take the time to read it! - BJM, Tasmanian Law Society Newsletter, September 2004

Reviews of 11th edition: [T]here are often times when one has a client who wants to try to understand legal concepts for themeslves, without having to obtain a law degree. It is in this context that I have found Gillies to be the answer. This is a book which looks at what the author calls “the foundation topics in the Australian legal system, the law of contracts and the major topics in commercial law”. The method by which he looks at these is what makes this book so useful. The style in which it is written is down to earth, at times a little witty, and above all, detailed enough for a non-lawyer to understand but not so complex that a lay person loses the sense of what is being said. When I reviewed an earlier edition, I praised the book for its value as a student text and for people involved in commerce who needed ready access to a textbook on the issues to which they are exposed in their business. I remain of the view that this book fills that spot very well. ... - Law Society of Tasmania newsletter, April 2003

If there is a need for a text for general business purposes, then it is hard to go past Business Law by Peter Gillies. - Australian Law Librarian, Vol 11(3), 2003

Review of 10th edition:What a relief! A legal book which is clear in language and structure, breaking down complex legal matters, and covers basic legal principles. ... The most compelling feature of this work is that it is well written and easy to understand. The chapters contain a useful introduction that places each topic in its context and often shows the development of the legal principles. The book includes a comprehensive table of statutes and cases. The index is excellent. The book is an ideal reference book about basic legal principles that relate to business that is also relevant to legal practice. The publishers should consider publishing this important work in hardcover as it forms an important part of the libraries of many practitioners who use the work as a first reference. - International Trade & Business Law Annual, May 2002

Table of Contents

Nature of Law, and of the Common Law in Particular/ Sources of the Law/ Law and Morality: Law and Justice: The Rule of Law/ Role of the Law: Law and Social Change/ Classifications in the Law/ The Australian Jurisdictions/ The Institutions of the Legal System/ Reception of English Law in Australia

Judge-Made Law and Statute Law
Common Law / Equity/ Statute Law

The Courts, Litigation and the Legal Profession
The Courts/ Litigation/ Tribunals/ The Legal Profession/ Alternative Dispute Resolution

Introduction/ The Division of Powers/ Limits Imposed upon Federal and State Legislative Powers by the Commonwealth Constitution/ The Concurrent Powers - Conflict Between State and Federal Laws/ Consideration of Certain Heads of Commonwealth Power/ Amendments to the Constitution

The Law of Torts
Introduction/ The Tort of Negligence/ Trespass against the Person/ Torts against Land: Trespass and Nuisance/ Torts Concerning Chattels/ Rylands v Fletcher - Current Status/ Occupier's Liability/ Breach of Statutory Duty/ Deceit/ Animals/ Defamation/ Defences to Torts/ Vicarious Liability/ Statutory Limits on Damages Payable for Wrongs Causing Injury or Death

The Criminal Law
Introduction/ Nature of the Criminal Law: Its Purposes/ Sources of the Criminal Law: The Criminal Courts/ The Elements of an Offence: Bases of Liability/ Formally Classifying Offences/ Proving Criminal Liability/ Structure of the Substantive Criminal Law/ The Offences/ The Defences/ The General Principles and Doctrines

Contracts - An Overview
Contracts - the Idea/ Contracts is a Branch of the Civil Law/ The Evolving Law of Contract - The Philosophy of Laissez-faire and its Sequels/ Components of Contract Law

Formation of Contract - Offer and Acceptance
Introduction/ Offer/ Termination of Offer/ Acceptance/ Miscellaneous Aspects of Formation

Formation of Contract - Consideration
Introduction/ Should There be a Requirement of Consideration?/ Requirement of Consideration Waived Where Agreement Embodied in Deed/ Consideration Must Move From the Promisee, But Need Not Move to the Promisor/ The Concept of Consideration/ The Law is Unconcerned with the "Value" of Consideration (the Financial Value)/ Insufficient Consideration

Formation of Contract - Intention to Create a Binding Contract
Introduction/ Agreements Arising in the Business Context/ Agreements Arising in a Social or Domestic Context/ Subsidy and Other Administrative Schemes and Arrangements set up by Government

Terms of the Contract - Principles of Construction
Contractual Terms/ Principles of Construction/ Presumed Intent of the Parties/ Where Contract Written, Accord Ordinary Meaning to Language Where Possible/ Ambiguity/ Spirit of Agreement Approach v Actual Wording/ The Parol Evidence Rule and the Admission of Extrinsic Evidence in Interpreting Written Contracts

Terms of Contract - Determining the Scope of the Contract
Introduction/ The Difference Between Representations and Terms/ Incorporation of Terms by Signing, Display, etc/ Implied Terms/ Collateral Contracts/ Uncertain Terms

Terms of the Contract - Issues of Meaning and Effect
Exclusion Clauses/ Conditions and Warranties

Vitiating Elements - Mistake
Mistake - An Overview/ Categories of Legally Relevant Mistake/ Effect of Mistake at Common Law/ Effect of Mistake in Equity/ Miscellaneous Aspects of Mistake/ Rectification

Vitiating Elements - Misrepresentation
Introduction/ What is a Relevant or Operative Misrepresentation?/ Effect of Misrepresentation/ Miscellaneous Matters/ Relevant Legislation

Vitiating Elements - Illegality
Introduction/ Illegality at Common Law/ Illegality under Statute Law/ Severance/ Recovery of Money or other Property Handed Over Pursuant to an Illegal Contract/ Retrospective Validation of an Illegal Contract

Vitiating Elements - Inequality Between the Parties
Introduction/ Duress/ Undue Influence/ Unconscionable Dealing - Contracting With a Person Under a Disability/ A General Principle of Unfairness?/ Legislative Intervention

Termination of the Contract in General
Introduction/ Concepts: Terminology/ Termination by Performance/ Termination by Agreement and Related Concepts/ Termination by Virtue of a Term in the Contract/ Frustration/ Termination of an Indefinitely Continuing Agreement

Termination of the Contract - Breach and Anticipatory Breach
Introduction/ Actual Breach/ Anticipatory Breach/ Election to Affirm or Terminate the Contract/ Consequences of Termination/ Remedies for Breach and Anticipated Breach of Contract

Remedies for Breach of Contract
Damages for Breach and Anticipated Breach/ Liquidated Damages/ The Equitable Remedies/ Limitation Provisions

Privity and Assignment
The Doctrine of Privity of Contract/ Assignment of Contractual Rights and Obligations

Contractual Capacity
Introduction/ Minors/ Persons under a Disability of Mind, including Intoxication/ Corporations/ Bankrupts/ Married Women

Contracts Required to be in Writing or Evidenced by Writing
Introduction/ The Statute of Frauds 1677 (England)/ Miscellaneous Contracts Comprehended by the Statute of Frauds and its Modern Successors/ Contracts for the Sale of Goods/ Contracts for the Sale of Land/ Standard Terms and Concepts Associated with the Provisions/ The Doctrine of Part Performance/ Non-contractual Remedies at Common Law in Respect of Non-conforming Contracts/ Termination and Variation of Affected Contracts

Contracts for the Sale of Goods
Introduction/ Contract for the Sale of Goods - Nature/ Formalities of the Contract/ Classifying Goods/ Terms of the Contract/ Transfer of Property in the Goods/ Where Seller Does Not Have Title/ Performance of the Contract/ Remedies for Breach of Contract

Quasi-Contractual Remedies
Introduction/ Quasi-Contractual Remedies Especially Relevant to the Contractual Situation/ Other Quasi-Contractual Remedies

Principal and Agent
Introduction/ When Agency Arises (ie Creation of Agency)/ Relationships between Parties - Rights and Liabilities/ Termination of Agency/ Types of Agent

Introduction/ Determining Whether a Partnership Exists/ Creation of Partnership/ Relations Between Partners and Third Parties/ Relations Between Partners/ Dissolution of the Partnership/ Winding Up the Business/ Limited Partnerships/ Registration of Business Names

Introduction/ Real Property/ Personal Property/ Assignment of Real Property and Personal Property/ Priorities Between Competing Interests

Intellectual Property
Introduction/ Copyright/ Designs/ Patents/ Trade Marks/ Plant Breeder's Rights Act 1994 (Cth)/ General Law Remedies/ The Trade Practices Act 1974 (Cth), ss 52 and 53

Introduction/ Classifying Trusts/ Creation of a Trust/ Position of the Trustee/ The Position of the Beneficiary/ Termination of the Trust

Introduction/ Wills/ Executors and Administrators/ Administration of the Estate/ Testator's Family Maintenance Legislation

Introduction: Concept of Bailment/ Classifying Bailments/ The Bailee's Duties/ The Bailor's Duties/ Termination of Bailment/ Special Types of Bailee

Consumer Protection
Overview/ The Consumer Provisions in the Trade Practices Act, Part V, and in the Fair Trading Acts/ Trade Practices Act, Part VA - Liability of Manufacturers and Importers of Defective Goods for Injury to Individuals, and Related Types of Damage

Credit Law
Introduction/ Mortgages Over Real Property/ Mortgages Over Personal Property/ Hire-purchase Agreements/ Other Traditional Arrangements Involving the Buying of Goods on Credit/ The Consumer Credit Code/ Pledges and Pawns/ Liens/ Privacy Law Affecting the Provision of Credit

Insurance Law
Introduction/ Concluding a Contract of Insurance/ Basic Concepts and Topics in Insurance Law/ Standard Classes of Insurance

Bills of Exchange
Introduction/ Definition of the Bill of Exchange/ Classifying Bills of Exchange/ The Parties to a Bill - Issues of Capacity and Role in Drawing, Accepting, Etc/ Negotiating a Bill/ Rights and Liabilities of the Parties to the Bill/ Discharge of the Bill/ Promissory Notes

Banks and Cheques
Introduction/ Banks/Financial Institutions, Customers and Their Relationship/ Cheques/ Special Provisions relating to FCA and FIC Institutions

Introduction/ Bankruptcy/ Arrangements With Creditors Without Sequestration: (A) Compositions, Arrangements and Assignments under Part X/ Arrangements Without Sequestration: (B) Debt Agreements

The Trade Practices Act: Restrictive Trade Practices
Introduction/ Some Concepts/ Administration of the Act/ Application of the Act/ Restrictive Trade Practices/ Part VI of the Act - The Remedies/ Authorisations/ Notifications/ Trans-Tasman Market Power Provisions/ Parts IVA and IVB of the Act - Protection of Smaller Businesses/ Access to Services - Part IIIA/ Part XIB - The Telecommunications Industry: Anti-Competitive Conduct and Record Keeping Rules/ Price Exploitation by Corporations in relation to the New Tax System

Company Law
by Michael Quilter
Preliminary Matters/ Internal Organs - The Division of Power/ Formal Controls on Companies/ Financing Companies/ Financial and Other Problems/ The Company and Legally Significant Transactions/ The Wider Regulatory Framework

Table of Cases/ Table of Statutes/ Index

Of interest...