Merger doctrine is a procedural term used in several areas of law. As an abstract concept, merger doctrines tend to seek fairness and equality between two entities. The meaning of the term varies according to the concentration of law in which it is used. Merger doctrines generally are found in antitrust law, civil procedures, copyright law, criminal law, trust law and real property law.
In the case of antitrust law, a merger doctrine typically refers to an approach the court system uses to facilitate mergers between corporations. This approach aids merging companies that may be faced with reduced competition and raised prices. A horizontal merger doctrine may be discussed when direct competitors are merging, and vertical merger doctrines are discussed when a company merges with its suppliers. In this case, the merger doctrine can protect lesser parties that merge with higher-functioning companies.
A merger doctrine in a civil procedure refers to an agreement that is entered into by disputing parties. A proposition is presented in which the litigants agree to a settlement that is supervised by the court. Once the doctrine is agreed upon, the court has the authority to modify and adjust the agreement as deemed necessary.
Doctrines of merger found in copyright law protect the relationship between idea and expression. A merger doctrine assures that an expression of an idea remains copyrighted while the idea itself is free to be used by others in other forms of expression. In this case, the doctrine protects companies and individuals that want to re-approach copyrighted expressions.
Merger doctrines in criminal law occur when it is required to merge lesser criminal charges with more serious existing charges. This doctrine allows for varying degrees of offenses and punishment. A merger doctrine in criminal law differentiates between a manslaughter charge and a felony murder charge.
Real property contract merger doctrines represent property and deed mergers. These mergers basically state that any agreements made in the contract that are not reflected on the deed become null when the deed is transferred to the buyer. This doctrine typically only applies to covenants of title and may be abrogated to allow certain terms to survive after the merger.
The law of trusts merger doctrines fuse legal titles if a person becomes a sole beneficiary of a trust as well as a sole trustee. This merger may deem that the beneficiary owns the property outright. This sort of doctrine would be applicable to those who wish to name a sole benefactor in their will.