• Video

The Earliest Forms of Corporate Entities: Partnerships

Did you know that rudimentary corporations have existed since the dawn of civilization? Professor J.W. Verret talks about the earliest prototype of a corporate entity - partnerships. Clay tablets from the Babylonian Empire record contracts between people who form partnerships in order to do business. https://youtube.com/watch?v=96kkBG59ji0


Partnerships are a type of business entity that predated the corporation. And in fact, predated it so much so that we have some of the earliest discovered writings from the ancient Babylonians 4,000 years ago, are memorializations of partnership agreements between farmers who are sharing risk in a partnership. So I want to read you one partnership agreement from 568 BC. This is a contract for a partnership in the 36th year of Nebuchadnezzar II. So this is two investors investing money into a joint partnership and making sure that they memorialize the obligation and the investments of these two partners: “Two manas of money belonging to Nabu-akhi-iddin, son of Shula, and one half mana seven shekels of money belonging to Bel-shunu, Son of Sin-emuq. They have put into a copartnership with one another. Whatever remains to Bel-shunu in town or country over and above this investment becomes their common property. Whatever Bel-shunu spends for expenses in excess of four shekels of money shall be considered extravagant. This contract witnessed... And then the names of the three men and a scribe are written. Dated at Babylon, first of Ab, in the thirty-sixth year of Nebuchadnezzar.” There's something comforting to me about the idea that we have individuals sharing risk and writing up a partnership agreement between each other in the earliest memorialization of human writing as far back as we can see into human civilization. That to me is why corporate law is interesting. Corporate law stretches back to the earliest recorded time of human civilization, as human beings come together, share risk and try to develop an investment that they can use to provide for their families. To me, that's what makes corporate law cool.

Related Content