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Martial Law


“Martial Law” is not a financial term, rather, it is a legal term. It refers to the imposition of direct military control of normal civil functions or suspension of civil law by a government, usually in response to a temporary emergency such as invasion or major disaster. During this time, civil liberties, including financial, often get suspended.


The phonetic pronunciation of “Martial Law” is: “mahr-shul law”

Key Takeaways

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  1. Limits on Civil Liberties: Under martial law, civil liberties such as freedom of speech, freedom of movement and privacy are often curtailed. This is done to maintain control during a crisis, but it can lead to abuse of power.
  2. Role of the Military: Martial law typically involves the military taking over functions normally carried out by the civilian government. This includes policing, administration, and the enforcement of laws.
  3. Temporary Measure: Martial Law is usually invoked during emergencies such as war, civil unrest, or in response to a natural disaster. It’s typically a temporary measure until the situation can be stabilized and civilian control can be reestablished.



The term “Martial Law” is significant in business and finance due to its potential implications on economic activities. Martial law refers to the imposition of direct military control of civilian functions during emergencies or in response to crises such as war or natural disaster. Under martial law, civilians’ rights are often restricted, and normal civil law is temporarily suspended. Within a business context, martial law can lead to significant instability, unpredictable changes in regulations, and disruptions in business activities. Economic growth can slow down or even halt due to factors such as curfews, restricted consumer spending, business closing, and overall uncertainty. As such, understanding the implications of martial law is important for risk management and strategic planning in the business and financial sectors.


Martial law, as a finance and business term, is primarily invoked in the context of unusual or emergency situations. These are critical situations characterized by extreme circumstances such as war, major disaster, civil unrest, or significant economic collapse. The purpose of martial law is to restore and maintain peace, security, and order when conventional laws and civil governance have proven insufficient. This law provides the military-ruled government or military authorities the legal flexibility and power to make and enforce rules and regulations that may deviate from normal societal operations.In the realm of finance and business, the implementation of martial law can heavily influence the economic environment. Businesses operating under martial law often face strict regulations, such as curfews, restrictions on their operational hours, emergency taxation, or even seizure of assets, which are imposed to secure stability, boost the economy, or finance war efforts. In some cases, currencies may be replaced or devalued. The purpose here is to quickly adapt to the extreme conditions and facilitate the mobilization and allocation of resources where they are most needed, despite the potential for these conditions to create difficult and even severe operating environments for businesses.


Martial Law refers to the suspension of civil law and its replacement with the rule by military officials, typically during times of emergency, such as war, civil unrest, or a catastrophe. Here are three real-world examples:1. The Philippines under Ferdinand Marcos: In 1972, then-President Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law as a response to alleged threats of Communist insurgency. He maintained it for over nine years. During those years, the legal system was completely replaced by the military’s rule, numerous citizens were arrested without charges, press was censored, and human rights were frequently violated.2. Poland under Communist Rule: In 1981, General Jaruzelski of Poland imposed martial law in an attempt to suppress the democratic Solidarity movement. The military government restricted civil liberties, mass arrests were carried out, and several opposition leaders were imprisoned.3. 2011 Egyptian Crisis: Following the revolution against President Hosni Mubarak, Egypt’s Supreme Council of the Armed Forces declared martial law. The emergency laws in place gave police extensive powers, suspended constitutional rights, legalized censorship, and was in effect until 2012.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is Martial Law?

Martial Law refers to a condition where military forces take over the governance and control of a state or a region, usually in an emergency situation or due to a civil unrest.

How does Martial Law affect businesses?

Martial Law can greatly impact businesses, often leading to disruptions in operations due to curfews, restricted logistics, and formal orders that prohibit certain activities. The general uncertainty can also affect market stability and investor confidence.

Is Martial Law permanent?

Generally, Martial Law is temporary and only used as a last resort during extreme circumstances. The duration depends on the stability of the situation and decisions made by the governing authority.

Can Business continue operating under Martial Law?

Yes, but it is subject to many restrictions. The military government often controls resources and logistics, so operations might be affected. Certain types of businesses might also be asked to stop functioning temporarily.

How does Martial Law impact the economy?

Martial Law often leads to an unstable economy due to businesses closings or slowing down, which can lead to unemployment and reduced production. The uncertainty can also deter foreign investment.

What measures can businesses take during Martial Law?

Businesses can develop a crisis management plan, secure their assets, reinforce their supply chains, and diversify their market presence geographically to survive the effects of Martial Law.

Do international laws apply during Martial Law?

Yes, international laws still apply even during Martial Law. The governing military authority is required to respect human rights and the principle of proportionality, amongst other things.

What is the role of finance during Martial Law?

The finance sector plays a crucial role during Martial Law by maintaining liquidity and stability in the economy. Financial institutions often work with the government to facilitate the operation of necessary services and aid economic recovery.

What happens to stock markets during Martial Law?

Stock markets typically react negatively to political instability and uncertainties, including the imposition of Martial Law. Significant volatility, declining stock prices, and decreases in overall market indices can be expected during such periods.

Related Finance Terms

  • Curfew Orders
  • Military Tribunal
  • Suspension of Civil Liberties
  • Emergency Powers
  • State of Siege

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