Interest, implies the premium or sum, paid for the loan or use of money
The rate of legal interest has varied, and been progressively reduced, during the last two centuries ; accordingly as the quantity of specie has increased by accessions of trade, the introduction of paper-credit, and other circumstances. The stat. 37 Hen. VIII. c. 9, confined interest to ten per cent.; and likewise the stat. 13 Eliz. c. 8. But as, through the encouragement given-in her reign to commerce, the nation became more wealthy, the stat. 21 Jac.I. c. 17, lowered it to eight per cent.; the 12 Car. II. c. 13, to six; and lastly, by the stat. 12 Ann, c. 16, § 2, it was reduced to five per cent, yearly, which is at present the highest legal interest that can be taken.
It is also enacted by the same law, that if any person take, upon whatever contract, either directly or indirectly, more than five per cent, per annum, for the loan of money, goods, etc. he shall forfeit treble the value of the money, etc. thus advanced; one half of which belongs to the crown, and the Other to the informer.
If a contract, which carries interest, be made in a foreign country, the courts of justice in Britain will direct its payment, according to the Law of that country in which the contract was made. And by stat. 14 Geo. III. c. 79, all mortgages and other securities upon estates, or other properties, in Ireland, or the Plantations, bearing interest not exceeding six per cent, shall be legal, though executed in the kingdom of Great-Britain ; unless the money lent shall be known at the time to exceed the value of the thing in pledge ; in which case also, to prevent usurious contracts at home, under colour of foreign securities, the borrower shall forfeit treble the sum so borrowed.