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--------------- Print Magazine --------------
  May 2016
  April 2016
Permanent Imprint Leading Cases
Case of State Monopolies
Darcy v. Allin , (1599) 74 ER 1131 (House of Lords)


The plaintiff, Edward Darcy, was a member of Queen Elizabeth's Court who received from such court a licence to import and sell all types of playing cards for their marketing in England. This licence was apparently secured in part by the Queen's concern that card-playing in England was becoming a problem among her subjects, and that having one person's control over the trade would regulate the activity. When the defendant, T. Allin, sought to make and sell his own playing cards, Darcy sued to prevent this competition.


Whether State established monopolies are inherently harmful, and therefore contrary to law?


The Queen's Bench Court determined that the Queen's grant of monopolies was invalid on such grounds, as:

(a) Such monopolies prevent persons who may be skilled in a trade from practicing their trade, and therefore, promote idleness.

(b) Grant of monopoly damages not only tradesmen in that field, but everyone who wants to sue the product, because the monopolist will raise the price, but will have no incentive to maintain the quality of the goods sold.

(c) The Queen intended to permit this monopoly for the public good, but she must have been deceived because such a monopoly can be used only for the private gain of the monopolist.

(d) Most importantly it would set a dangerous precedent to allow a trade to be monopolized, particularly because the person being granted the monopoly, knew nothing about making cards himself, and there was no law that permitted the creation of such a monopoly.

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