Define: Abroachment

Quick Summary of Abroachment

Encroachment refers to the unauthorised intrusion or trespass onto another person’s property, typically involving the encroachment of physical structures or objects onto the land of another. It is a legal concept that can lead to disputes and legal actions between property owners.

When an encroachment occurs, the affected property owner may seek legal remedies to address the issue. This can involve filing a lawsuit against the encroaching party, seeking an injunction to stop the encroachment, or requesting damages for any harm caused.

To establish a claim of encroachment, the affected property owner must demonstrate that the encroaching party has unlawfully entered or placed structures or objects on their property without permission. The extent of the encroachment, the impact on the affected property, and any applicable local laws or regulations will be considered in determining the appropriate legal remedies.

Resolving encroachment disputes often involves negotiations between the parties involved, potentially leading to agreements on property boundaries, removal of the encroaching structures or objects, or compensation for any damages caused. In some cases, mediation or arbitration may be used to reach a resolution.

It is important for property owners to be aware of their property boundaries and take prompt action if they suspect or discover an encroachment. Seeking legal advice from a qualified attorney can help navigate the complexities of encroachment disputes and protect one’s property rights.

What is the dictionary definition of Abroachment?
Dictionary Definition of Abroachment

Abroachment is a noun that refers to the act or process of encroaching upon someone else’s rights, territory, or property without permission or legal authority. It involves the unauthorised intrusion, infringement, or trespassing upon another person’s physical, legal, or metaphorical boundaries. Abroachment often implies a gradual or subtle encroachment rather than a sudden or forceful invasion. This term is commonly used in legal and property contexts to describe the unauthorised occupation, use, or exploitation of someone else’s land, resources, or intellectual property.

Full Definition Of Abroachment

Abroachment, though a term not frequently encountered in modern legal discourse, carries significant historical weight and relevance. It refers to a now largely obsolete practice involving monopolistic trade behaviour, where an individual or entity corners the market on certain goods by buying them up in large quantities before they reach the market, thereby gaining the power to inflate prices and control supply. This practice was once considered a serious economic offence, particularly during Britain’s medieval and early modern periods. This overview delves into the legal framework surrounding abroachment, tracing its origins, historical context, legislative responses, and evolution into contemporary legal concepts.

Historical Context and Origins

The term “abroachment” originates in medieval English law, particularly within the economic policies of the late Middle Ages and the early Renaissance period. It is closely related to “forestalling” and “engrossing” concepts. Forestalling referred to buying goods on their way to the market to sell them at a higher price, while engrossing involved buying large quantities of goods to create a monopoly. Abroachment specifically targeted the manipulation of markets by pre-emptively purchasing goods, thus disrupting the natural flow of commerce and disadvantaging consumers and other merchants.

The primary concern during these periods was the maintenance of fair trade practices and the prevention of market manipulation that could lead to artificial inflation of prices and scarcity of essential goods. Medieval economies were significantly dependent on the regulation of trade and markets to ensure stability and fairness, and as such, practices like abroachment were seen as direct threats to economic stability and public welfare.

Legal Prohibitions and Statutes

The legal prohibition of abroachment and related practices can be traced back to various statutes enacted from the 13th to the 17th centuries. One of the earliest legislative responses was the Statute of Westminster of 1275, which explicitly addressed forestalling and, by extension, practices akin to abroachment. This statute made it illegal to buy goods on their way to the market to sell them at a higher price, reflecting the medieval authorities’ desire to protect market integrity.

Further legislative developments included the Statute of Artificers of 1563, which sought to regulate wages, prices, and trade practices comprehensively. It aimed to curb monopolistic behaviours, including engrossing and abroachment, promote fair competition, and protect consumers from price exploitation. The legislative landscape continued to evolve with the enactment of the 1604 Act against Forestalling, Engrossing, and Regrating, which reiterated and strengthened prohibitions against these market manipulation tactics.

Judicial Interpretation and Enforcement

Judicial interpretation and enforcement of laws against abroachment played a crucial role in shaping its legal contours. Courts in medieval and early modern England ensured that market practices conformed to the statutes designed to prevent unfair trade practices. Offenders caught engaging in abroachment were subject to penalties, including fines, imprisonment, or other forms of punishment deemed appropriate for the economic harm caused.

One notable case in this context is “R v. Waddington” (1681), in which the court upheld the principles enshrined in the statutes against market manipulation. The defendant was accused of buying large quantities of grain before it reached the market, thereby controlling supply and inflating prices. The court’s decision reinforced the legal stance against abroachment and similar practices, emphasizing the importance of protecting market fairness and consumer interests.

Decline and Evolution of Abroachment Laws

The relevance of abroachment laws began to decline with the advent of the Industrial Revolution and the subsequent transformation of economic and legal landscapes. The rise of industrial capitalism and the development of modern economic theories led to a shift in focus from strict regulation of market practices to promoting free trade and competition.

The laissez-faire economic philosophy that gained prominence in the 18th and 19th centuries advocated for minimal government intervention in markets. It viewed monopolistic behaviours as self-correcting through the forces of supply and demand. Consequently, stringent regulations against abroachment and related practices gradually fell out of favour, giving way to a more liberalised approach to market regulation.

However, the core principles underlying the prohibition of abroachment did not disappear entirely. Instead, they evolved into contemporary legal frameworks addressing anti-competitive behaviour and market manipulation. Modern competition law, antitrust regulations, and consumer protection statutes encapsulate the essence of preventing market monopolies and ensuring fair trade practices.

Contemporary Legal Frameworks

In the modern legal context, the principles against abroachment are expressed in various competition laws and regulatory mechanisms designed to prevent monopolistic behaviours and promote market fairness. Key legislative instruments in the UK include the Competition Act 1998 and the Enterprise Act 2002, which provide comprehensive frameworks for addressing anti-competitive practices.

The Competition Act 1998, in particular, prohibits agreements, practices, and conduct that prevent, restrict, or distort competition within the UK. This includes behaviours analogous to abroachment, such as price-fixing, market-sharing, and abuse of dominant positions. The Act empowers the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to investigate and take action against entities engaging in anti-competitive practices.

The Enterprise Act 2002 further strengthens the regulatory regime by introducing criminal penalties for certain anti-competitive behaviours and empowering the CMA to conduct market investigations. It also provides mechanisms for individuals and businesses to seek redress for harm caused by anti-competitive conduct, reflecting the enduring importance of protecting market integrity and consumer interests.

Comparative Legal Perspectives

While abroachment as a specific legal term is largely obsolete, its underlying principles resonate across various jurisdictions globally. Different countries have developed competition laws and regulatory frameworks to address concerns about similar market manipulation and monopolistic practices.

In the United States, for instance, the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890 and the Clayton Act of 1914 form the cornerstone of antitrust law, targeting monopolistic practices and promoting competitive markets. The European Union also has robust competition laws enshrined in the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), particularly Articles 101 and 102, which prohibit anti-competitive agreements and abuse of dominant positions.

These comparative legal perspectives highlight the universal recognition of the need to regulate market behaviours that threaten fair competition and consumer welfare. While the specific legal terminologies and frameworks may differ, the fundamental objective remains consistent across jurisdictions: to prevent the distortion of markets and ensure a level playing field for all participants.


Abroachment, though an antiquated term, embodies a significant chapter in the evolution of market regulation and competition law. Its historical context underscores the medieval and early modern concerns over market manipulation and the importance of maintaining fair trade practices. The legislative responses and judicial interpretations of the time laid the foundation for modern competition laws that continue to safeguard market integrity and consumer interests.

While the direct relevance of abroachment has waned with the transformation of economic and legal paradigms, its legacy persists in contemporary legal frameworks addressing anti-competitive behaviour and market monopolies. The evolution from strict regulation of market practices to promoting free competition reflects broader shifts in economic thought and legal philosophy. Nonetheless, the enduring principles against market manipulation and monopolistic practices underscore the timeless importance of fair competition and consumer protection in any economic system.

The historical journey of abroachment from medieval statutes to modern competition law illustrates the dynamic nature of legal responses to economic challenges. It highlights the continuous adaptation of legal frameworks to address evolving market realities while preserving the core objective of ensuring fair and competitive markets. As such, the study of abroachment offers valuable insights into the development of legal principles that continue to shape the regulation of markets in the contemporary era.

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This site contains general legal information but does not constitute professional legal advice for your particular situation. Persuing this glossary does not create an attorney-client or legal adviser relationship. If you have specific questions, please consult a qualified attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.

This glossary post was last updated: 11th June 2024.

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