When the Academy was first formed, it was recognized that there are varying definitions of what subjects fit within the overall realm of commercial law. It also was recognized that between the common law system and the civil law system, there may be some differences in regard to the definition of this area of the law. There are some topics too, such as corporations, which might not fall into a narrower definition of commercial law within the common law system, but clearly fall within the definition of mercantile law within the civil law system. Experts who have been chosen as members are primarily from the core subjects of commercial law such as sales, contracts, negotiable paper, secured interests in personal property, banking, and consumer protection. Product liability law and bankruptcy law also may be included within that definition. Still it seems desirable to have at least some members whose expertise falls within the broader definition, such as international commercial transactions and investments, and corporations. It has been the policy to center upon scholars that specialize within the core subjects or nucleus, and yet to hold open the possibility of membership to others; in that way the greatest expertise can be obtained.
Also, it was recognized in the formation of the Academy that the question might well be raised as to whether there should be a combination of commercial and consumer law scholars within the single group. In many ways the combination is easy and natural. Many of the commercial law teachers have branched out in their expertise to include consumer law. In addition, most commercial enterprises must consider both basic sets of relationships: one set is the relationship of a mercantile enterprise in its transactional relations with other mercantile enterprise; the other is the relationship of the mercantile enterprise with those to whom it furnishes products in the ultimate chain of distribution - the consumers. Thus, true expertise in advising commercial enterprises must include an awareness of both the commercial and consumer realms. On the other hand, it can be seen that in some ways these are quiet separate subjects. Special legislation in consumer law sets forth specific legal rules. Modification of general contract law also sometimes must be made in regard to consumer protection problems and there is a growing body of literature in regard to that subject. While it must be recognized that there is a special sphere of consumer law, it has been the policy of the Academy to work with those common subjects mentioned earlier and to keep membership in the Academy open to both commercial and consumer law scholars.