Nor anyone acting on its behalf

From The Jolly Contrarian
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Towards more picturesque speech



George Orwell on plain English | SEC guidance on plain English Plain English Anatomy Noun | Verb | Adjective | Adverb | Preposition | Conjunction | Latin | Germany | Flannel | Legal triplicate | Nominalisation | Murder your darlings

Index — Click ᐅ to expand:

Get in touch
Comments? Questions? Suggestions? Requests? Sign up for our newsletter? Questions? We’d love to hear from you.
BREAKING: Get the new weekly newsletter here Old editions here

That fabulous Latin construction nemo dat quod non habet ought, but does not, nix that tedious drafting construction: “neither X, nor anyone acting on its behalf, may do Y”.

For if, by the lights of the law, a principal has no right to do a thing, it follows as a matter of ineffable Latin logic that neither may her ox, ass, servant, agent, attorney, nominee, delegate or other mortal representative do that thing on her behalf: nemo dat quod non habet: one cannot give someone else a power one does not have oneself.

Now if such a representative independently happens to be entitled to do that thing, it is a different story — but even here, this ghastly confection won’t save you: such a representative would not thereby be acting under her own power, not courtesy of yours, and would not be acting on your behalf at all. Seeing as she wouldn’t be your representative in the first place, this purported stricture will fall upon stony contractual ground.

So, be bold, young eagle of the law: wherever you see this construction, strike it from the record.

See also