2.1 Economic and political doctrine of laissez-faire
The economic and political doctrine of laissez-faire prevailed and characterised the popular rhetoric in government and among other institutions in the UK. ‘Laissez faire’ originates from the French and translates literally as ‘allow to do’. However, it has since taken on particular meanings. In the first sense, the Oxford English Dictionary (2009) defines ‘laissez-faire’ as meaning ‘the policy of leaving things to take their own course; without interfering’. In the second dictionary sense, it has a meaning germane to economics: ‘abstention by governments from interfering in the workings of the free market’.
The legal legacy of the laissez-faire doctrine can still be seen in the development of English contract law, in particular, in the contractual doctrine of caveat emptor (let the buyer beware) and also the assumption that contractual parties have equal bargaining power.