What is the Trading with the Enemy Act?

Introduction

Trading with the Enemy Act is a stock short title used for legislation in the United Kingdom and the United States relating to trading with the enemy.

Background

Trading with the Enemy Acts is also a generic name for a class of legislation generally passed during or approaching a war that prohibit not just mercantile activities with foreign nationals, but also acts that might assist the enemy. While originally limited to wartime, in the 20th century these Acts were applied in cases of national emergency as well. For example, in 1940, before the United States entry into World War II the president imposed broad prohibitions on the transfer of property in which Norway or Denmark, or any citizen or national of those countries, or any other person aiding those countries, had any interest, with the exception of transfers which were licensed under the regulations of the Department of the Treasury.

Refer to Daimler Co Ltd v Continental Tyre and Rubber Co (Great Britain) Ltd.

Examples of Legislation

  • France:
    • Continental System, French Napoleonic edict from 1806 to 1814.
  • United Kingdom:
    • The Trading with the Enemy Act 1914.
    • The Trading with the Enemy Amendment Act 1914 (5 & 6 Geo 5 c 12).
    • The Trading with the Enemy Amendment Act 1915 (5 & 6 Geo 5 c 79).
    • The Trading with the Enemy (Extension of Powers) Act 1915 (5 & 6 Geo 5 c 98).
    • The Trading with the Enemy Amendment Act 1916 (5 & 6 Geo 5 c 105).
    • The Trading with the Enemy (Copyright) Act 1916 (6 & 7 Geo 5 c 32).
    • The Trading with the Enemy and Export of Prohibited Goods Act 1916 (6 & 7 Geo 5 c 52).
    • The Trading with the Enemy (Amendment) Act 1918 (8 & 9 Geo 5 c 31).
    • The Trading with the Enemy Act 1939 (2 & 3 Geo 6 c 89).
  • United States:
    • The Trading with the Enemy Act of 1917 (TWEA), which is still in force.
      • This Act established the Office of Alien Property Custodian to manage the property of US enemies, e.g. patents filed in the US by German nationals.
      • This US government office was intended to manage this intellectual property in the US interest during the war.
    • TWEA was amended in 1933 by the Emergency Banking Act to extend the president’s authority also in peace time.
    • It was amended again in 1977 by the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) to restrict the application of TWEA only in times of war, while the IEEPA was intended to be used in peace time.
  • Israel:
    • The British Trading with the Enemy Act 1939 was applied to Mandatory Palestine, as to other British-ruled territories.
    • On the creation of Israel in 1948, it was retained as an Israeli law and the various Arab countries named in it as “The Enemy”.
    • It is still in force as of 2013, though Egypt and Jordan were removed from its application with the respective peace agreements Israel signed with them.
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