Fiction of law

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A fiction of law is the assumption that a certain thing is true, even though it is not natural to uphold it as true. An example is adoption of a boy as if he was your son. He is not naturally nor truly the son of the father, but the law may grant or give or recognize the quality of a son to someone who by nature is not the son.

The Truth about fictions

Mark Twain once said “Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn't.”

When trying to understand the truth about the present, we should seek to look at it dimensionally within time and space and spirit.

"For we know that the law is spiritual..." Romans 7:14

There is a great deal of misunderstanding about the terms fiction of law and legal fiction.

What is a Fiction of Law?

It sounds like an oxymoron.

What is law and what is legal?[1]

What is a legal fiction, and how does it differ from a Fiction of law, and or does it?

In countless historical debates, few agree.

One of the problems is how far do you take the matter and use of fictions. This is compounded by the vanity and lust for power found in men -- including judges, for they are not exempt from prejudice.

One definition of a legal fiction is "an assertion accepted as true, though probably fictitious, to achieve a particular goal in a legal matter."

But in another place, a legal fiction is a fact assumed or created by courts.

Because they are created by courts, it does not mean they are not true or void of fact. One example of a legal fiction occurs in adoption. An adoption is saying this is my son. He is not actually your son, so in that sense it is not true. But it is true that you are adopting him as your son.

  • A corporation treated as a legal person[2] is a fiction because in fact it is not a living person. But corporations are created by people, owned by people, and run by people who collectively bring in their spirit. The spirit of the people breath life into a Corporation.
A corporation has a nationality, and most governments have a corporate nature to them.

There are six factors in determining the nationality of a corporation:

  • the state of incorporation
  • the principal seat of business[3]
  • nationality of the shareholders
  • the nationality of overall investment
  • the nationality of the management
  • the persons controlling the business of corporation

Knowing this, what is the nationality of the Corpus of Christ?

Since the time of Cain, men have thought they should have the power to rule over other men.

The idea in some courts is that there needs to be a "procedural" legal fiction in order that some verdict of justice may be reached, and this is widely accepted, in preference to throwing the case out of court, with no judgment at all, which could produce greater injustices.

The truth is that a procedural legal fiction may be a false allegation of fact and not merely an assumption. It often could not be challenged, and it was usually employed to enlarge jurisdiction of a professional judiciary.

Procedural legal fictions could also be used to extend judicial remedies under the pretense that a fact, if true, might lead to a desirable and just result under the existing rules of law. But all of this exists inside a legal system created by men who want to rule over rights of others, and it is in the pliable hands of a professional judiciary that may simply desire an expansion of power.

Power corrupts and those who seek power will soon seek more.

The problem may not be the legal fiction or fiction of law, but rather the concentration of power in the hands of a professional judiciary who often think they should have the power of gods.

Some defined a legal fiction as "any assumption which conceals, or affects to conceal, the fact that a rule of law has undergone alteration, its letter remaining unchanged, its operation being modified."[4]

But others like Fuller defined a legal fiction as "either (1) a statement propounded with a complete or partial consciousness of its falsity, or (2) a false statement recognized as having utility."

How Far a Fiction

The struggle is how far can one take a legal fiction without creating more injustice than making no assumption would produce because no judgment may be reached. The assumption that the judge must produce a judgment to produce justice is to imagine that there is no God if you do not play god as judge in court.

Whether you are dealing with constructive delivery, implied provisions in contracts, or other kinds of legal presumptions, the problem is not the idea or even the need, but the motivation or driving spirit of those who use it.

"That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit." Romans 8:4

Many like Jeremy Bentham[5] despised, as fiction, the "original social contract" as the basis for political obligation. But that was in a day before massive social programs like public education, social welfare and other political and public benefits showered upon a citizenry that devoured the rewards of an authoritarian society with great appetite instead of abiding in Proverbs 23 or the words of Jesus concerning Benefactors who exercise authority.

His arguments may be heralded by those guides who are both deaf and blind to the state of society feeding off of one another by sucking at the breast of wolves as Romulus and Remus. By taking benefits to which we are not naturally entitled, the "original social contract" is no longer a fiction, but a cognizable fact.

We have stated that "Power corrupts and those who seek power will soon seek more."

The lust for benefits at the expense of your neighbor is the lust for power over your neighbor. Benefits in the form of entitlements corrupt society, and those who seek such rewards will soon seek more benefits.

Bentham raged about the "rottenness" of the legal fiction, and he seemed to despise common law, but that was what the common law had become by way of the apathy and sloth of the people. He thought the common law was a failure, but it was the people who had failed the law. Bentham's solution was codification, which would have been jumping from the frying pan into the fire, for what gods will write the codes?

“Before the Norman conquest of England in 1066, the people were the fountainhead of justice. The Anglo-Saxon courts of those days were composed of large numbers of freemen, and the law which they administered was that which had been handed down by oral tradition from generation to generation. In competition with these non-professional courts, the Norman king, who insisted that he was the fountainhead of justice, set up his own tribunals. The judges who presided over these royal courts were agents or representatives of the king, not of the people; but they were professional lawyers who devoted most of their time and energy to the administration of justice, and the courts over which they presided were so efficient, they gradually all but displaced the popular, nonprofessional courts.”[6]

Fiction of virtue

One must take back their responsibility to be a government of the people tending to the weightier matters, or their liberty will become a fiction.

“If Virtue and Knowledge are diffused among the People, they will never be enslaved. This will be their great Security”[7]

“Dependence begets subservience and venality,[8] suffocates the germ of virtue, and prepares fit tools for the designs of ambition.”2 [9]

“When we are planning for posterity, we ought to remember that virtue is not hereditary.”[10]

“While the people are virtuous they cannot be subdued; but when once they lose their virtue then they will be ready to surrender their liberties to the first external or internal invader.”[11]

Neither the people of America nor the States they instituted created or legally ratified the Constitution. While the States did adopt that document many years ago, the march of history has changed the course of mankind.

Edmond Pendleton, who debated Patrick in his opposition to the phrase “We the People”, stated, “Permit me to ask the gentleman who made this objection, who but the people can delegate powers? Who but the people have the right to form government?”.

The term federal is from Latin faedus, a league by contract derived from an agreement between parties or nations.[12]

Originally, the parties to the constitution were only the states. That covenant and league simply did not include the average citizens of the states or their inhabitants.

“It is certainly true that a popular government cannot flourish without virtue in the people.”[13]

The Constitution is often an icon of popularity in the minds of the people today, but the covetous souls of mankind have formed a government by the action and inaction of an indulgent population, by covetous participation and application, by slothful acceptance and acquiescence for more than two hundred years.

There can be no liberty without virtue.

Legal Fiction

An assumption that something occurred or someone or something exists which, in fact, is not the case, but that is made in the law to enable a court to equitably resolve a matter before it.
In order to do justice, the law will permit or create a legal fiction. For example, if a person undertakes a renunciation of a legacy which is a gift by will the person will be deemed to have predeceased the testator — one who makes a will — for the purpose of distributing the estate.[14]

A common example of a legal fiction is a corporation, which is regarded in many jurisdictions as a "person" who has many of the same legal rights and responsibilities as a natural person.

The rights being legal are created by terms of contracts, and therefore, they are regulated as a privilege more than a natural right.

Legal fictions are mostly encountered under common law systems. Those systems are legal systems that usually begin with a legal constitution, contract or covenant amongst people. But the original common law -- the product of justice -- came directly from a jury of freemen who decided fact and law. These men, when they prized both their liberty and the responsibilities correlative to its enjoyment, produced justice with a minimal reliance on fictions of law.

The professional judiciary may or may not indulge in the same virtues, for they are mercenaries to the battle for justice and have demonstrated an equal desire for profit in their pursuit of justice, by taking pay for the fulfillment of a natural responsibility.

Other working examples of legal fiction are commonly used to resolve contracts, such as the doctrine of survival used to create a legal fiction. If two people die at the same time, such as in a car crash or in a manner that renders it impossible to tell who had died first, the older of the two is considered to have died first, subject to rebuttal by evidence demonstrating the actual order of death.

You could literally argue that the older sat in the back seat, or injuries were slightly less traumatic, which might suggest that he did not die first.

A legal fiction is just a way to resolve contracts and the relations they create when the facts necessary to determine pure equity are undetermined. When trying to understand legal fictions, we need to realize that all contracts are not written. Some are based on our actions, and they may be assumed or even presumed based on constructions through the examination of facts and/or information we do have.

An example of this is the use of character witnesses that have no knowledge of the case, but they may present evidence that goes to the determination of whether or not there was criminal intent, based on the good character of the accused in the past.

The common law had a procedure whereby title to land could be put in direct issue by a "writ of right". When facts to support the writ were not available, or when a judgement could not be agreed upon, the parties could resort to trial by combat. The legal sanction of Wager of battle was abolished in England in 1819. Dueling was still available for some time, to settle issues. The truth is, whole nations still avail themselves of this remedy, producing monstrous wars.


In reading these examples, note that legality is about agreements and contractual relationships, not about the rule of right or righteousness, except in relationship to agreements whether written or constructed.

Pacta servanda sunt, Agreements must be kept.

Here are some example sentences that use the word.

  • “For many legal purposes, a corporation is considered to be a ‘person,’ but at the moment of its creation, it is little more than a single piece of paper on record at a government office. The legal fiction, however, ensures that the corporation is subject to a wide number of laws and policies that are drafted such that they only apply to ‘people.”
  • “Prior to placing our child up for adoption, we were required to acknowledge that we were ‘strangers’ to the child under the law, thus relinquishing our parental rights. It was a painful moment, but our lawyer advised us that it was a legal fiction that was needed to allow him to be adopted by his new parents.”
  • “Members of Parliament in the United Kingdom are not permitted to retire, but there is a legal fiction that allows them to accept a nominal position that disqualifies them from further parliamentary service. It allows MPs to gracefully step down when it is time to yield their position.”
  • Asset Forfeiture - The USA PATRIOT Act employs a legal fiction to give U.S. authorities seizure power over the funds of foreign banks held in U.S. interbank accounts.[15] If the U.S. government believes that illegal proceeds have been deposited in the foreign account of a foreign bank, it assumes those proceeds to have been deposited in an interbank account held in the United States. The government may then seize the funds from the interbank account. It need not establish that the funds are directly traceable to funds deposited into the foreign financial institution from whose account they were seized.[16]
  • A legal fiction should not be employed to defeat law or result in illegality: it has been always stressed that a legal fiction should not be employed where it would result in the violation of any legal rule or moral injunction. In Sinclair v. Brougham 1914 AC 378 the House of Lords refused to extend the juridical basis of a quasi-contract to a case of an ultra vires borrowing by a limited company, since it would sanction the evasion of the rules of public policy forbidding an ultra vires borrowing by a company. In general, if it appears that a legal fiction is being used to circumvent an existing rule, the courts are entitled to disregard that fiction and look at the real facts. The doctrine of "piercing the corporate veil" is applied under those circumstances.
  • Legal fiction should operate for the purpose for which it was created and should not be extended beyond its legitimate field.
  • Legal fiction should not be extended so as to lead unjust results. For example, the fiction that the wife's personality is merged in that of the husband should not be extended to deny to the wife of a disqualified man the right to an inheritance when it opens. The wife of a murderer can succeed to the estate of the murdered man in her own right and will not be affected by the husband's disqualification.
  • There cannot be a fiction upon a fiction. For example, in Hindu law, where a married person is given in adoption, and such person has a son at the time of adoption, the son does not pass into his father's adoptive family along with his father. He does not lose his gotra [lineage] and right of inheritance in the family of his birth. The second example would be that the adopted son would by a fiction be a real son of the adoptive father and his wife associated with the adoption. But to say that he will be the real son of all the wives of the adoptive father is a fiction upon fiction.

A legal fiction as a noun is a presumption of fact assumed by a court for convenience, consistency, or to achieve justice. There is an old adage: "Fictions arise from the law, and not law from fictions."

"A presumption is a deduction which the law expressly directs to be made from particular facts." (Code Civ. Proc., sec. 1959.) And "a presumption (unless declared by law to be conclusive) may be controverted by other evidence, direct or indirect: but unless controverted, the jury is bound to find according to the presumption." (Code Civ. Poc., sec. 1961 .) In re Bauer (1889), 79 Cal. 304, 30.

Juggling all these ideas together can cause people to argue in error while attempting to defend what they believe to be their rights, because they think that legal fictions are not valid and have no authority. They have sometimes done this while granting a cognizable jurisdiction when they are arguing against a jurisdiction based on their assumption that the court's authority extends from a legal fiction alone.

Remember that a corporation which is very real is also a legal fiction. The corporation is a result of contract, which is based on the right of the people to create a binding agreement. Rights granted or even secured by a corporation or any other fiction draws the claimant into the jurisdiction of the corporation and its contract.

Protection draws subjection and subjection protection.

It is not the fiction that binds us, but rather our willingness to covet our neighbors' goods and labor for our personal benefit and reward; what binds us is our sloth, and our application for protection and welfare of the men who call themselves Benefactors but who exercise authority.


Bovier's Dictionary

1. The assumption that a certain thing is true, and which gives to a person or thing, a quality which is not natural to it, and establishes, consequently, a certain disposition, which, without the fiction, would be repugnant to reason and to truth. It is an order of things which does not exist, but which the law prescribe; or authorizes it differs from presumption, because it establishes as true, something which is false; whereas presumption supplies the proof of something true. Dalloz, Dict. h. t. See 1 Toull. 171, n. 203; 2 Toull. 217, n. 203; 11 Toull. 11, n. 10, note 2; Ferguson, Moral Philosophy, part 5, c. 10, s. 3 Burgess on Insolvency, 139, 140; Report of the Revisers of the Civil Code of Pennsylvania, March 1, 1832, p. 8.
2. The law never feigns what is impossible fictum est id quod factum non est sed fieri potuit. Fiction is like art; it imitates nature, but never disfigures it, it aids truth, but it ought never to destroy it. It may well suppose that what was possible, but which is not, exists; but it will never feign that what was impossible, actually is. D'Aguesseau, Oeuvres, tome iv. page 427, 47e Plaidoyer.
3. Fictions were invented by the Roman praetors, who, not possessing the power to abrogate[17] the law, were nevertheless willing to derogate[18] from it, under the pretence of doing equity. Fiction is the resource of weakness, which, in order to obtain its object, assumes as a fact, what is known to be contrary to truth: when the legislator desires to accomplish his object, he need not feign, he commands. Fictions of law owe their origin to the legislative usurpations of the bench. 4 Benth. Ev. 300.
4. It is said that every fiction must be framed according to the rules of law, and that every legal fiction must have equity for its object. 10 Co. 42; 10 Price's R. 154; Cowp. 177. To prevent, their evil effects, they are not allowed to be carried further than the reasons which introduced them necessarily require. 1 Lill. Ab. 610; Hawk. 320; Best on Pres. §20.
5. The law abounds in fictions. That an estate is in abeyance;[19] the doctrine of remitter, by which a party who has been disseised of his freehold, and afterwards acquires a defective title, is remitted to his former good title; that one thing done today, is considered as done, at a preceding time by the doctrine of relation; that, because one thing is proved, another shall be presumed to be true, which is the case in all presumptions; that the heir, executor, and administrator stand by representation, in the place of the deceased are all fictions of law. "Our various introduction of John Doe and Richard Roe," says Mr. Evans, (Poth. on Ob. by Evans, vol. n. p. 43,) "our solemn process upon disseisin by Hugh Hunt; our casually losing and finding a ship (which never was in Europe) in the parish of St. Mary Le Bow, in the ward of Cheap; our trying the validity of a will by an imaginary, wager of five pounds; our imagining and compassing the king's death, by giving information which may defeat an attack upon an enewy's settlement in the antipodes our charge of picking a pocket, or forging a bill with force and arms; of neglecting to repair a bridge, against the peace of our lord the king, his crown and dignity are circumstances, which, looked at by themselves, would convey an impression of no very favorable nature, with respect to the wisdom of our jurisprudence." Vide 13 Vin. Ab. 209; Merl. Rep. h. t.; Dane's Ab. Index, h. t.; and Rey, des Inst. de I'Angl. tome 2, p. 219, where he severely cesures these fictions as absurd and useless.

Modern Legal definition

A legal fiction is created for the purpose of promoting the ends of justice. A common-law action, for example, allowed a father to bring suit against his daughter's seducer, based on the legal fiction of the loss of her services. Similarly, the law of torts encompasses the legal fiction of the rule of Vicarious Liability, which renders an employer responsible for the civil wrongs of his or her employees that are committed during their course of employment. Even though the employer generally is uninvolved in the actual act constituting the tort, the law holds the employer responsible since, through a legal fiction, he or she is deemed to be in direct control of the employee's actions. A seller of real estate might, for example, be liable in an action for Fraud committed by his or her agent in the course of a sale.
Fictio legis inique operatur alieni damnum vel injuriam.
Fiction of law is wrongful if it works loss or harm to anyone.
Fictio juris non est ubi veritas.
A fiction of law will not exist where the fact appears.
Les fictions naissent de la loi, et non la loi des fictions.
Fictions arise from the law, and not law from fictions.
Fictio cedit veritati. Fictio juris non est ubi veritas.
Fiction yields to truth. Where truth is, fiction of law does not exist.

A legal fiction is a fact assumed or created by courts, which is then used in order to apply a legal rule. Legal fiction allows an intellectual tradition of defining a legal standard, such as by way of a person, which has resulted in the creation of classic hypothetical figures in law like "the right-thinking member of society" or what would Jesus do, and it stretches back at least to Roman jurists in the figure of "the bonus paterfamilias".

Legal fictions are mostly encountered under common law systems.

Legal fictions may be counter-intuitive to those surprised to hear logic from fantasy as a means to administer justice in the modern course of everyday life, but they are preserved to advance public policy and preserve the rights of certain individuals and institutions.

Such an example is when a corporation is treated in judicial proceedings as if it were a "natural person", and thus it has the same legal rights and responsibilities as a natural person.

The term "legal fiction" is not usually used in a pejorative way, and has been likened to scaffolding around a building under construction.

Law | Natural Law | Legal title | Common Law | Fiction of law |
Stare decisis | Jury | Consent | Contract | Parental contract | Government |
Civil law | Civil Rights | Civil Government | Governments |
No Kings | Cities of refuge | Voir dire | Levites |
Citizen | Equity | The Ten Laws | Law of the Maat |
Bastiat's_The_Law_and_Two_Trees | Trees |
The Occupy Refuge Movement | Clive Bundy | Hammond |
Barcroft | Benefactors | gods | Jury | Sanhedrin |
Protection | Weightier_matters | Social_contract | Community Law |
Perfect law of liberty | Power to change | Covet | Rights |
Anarchist | Live as if the state does not exist |

== Footnotes ==
  1. Chapter 2. of the book The Covenants of the gods
    Law vs Legal
  2. The concept of the law treating corporate entities as if they were persons dates back to Ancient Rome. The 14th Amendment did the same thing. The corporation is itself incapable of loyalty or enmity, but the spirit of those within in provide the spirit.
  3. Related to a corporation's nationality is its residence. This can be jurisdictionally difficult, as a typical "multinational" has domiciles in several countries. There are at least two questions in this realm. 1) Where does a company reside? Usually, it resides in the place of incorporation or in the place of its registered office (called the 'nerve center'). 2) Where is the significantly larger business activity of the corporation, in terms of it's interactions with the public?
  4. Maine, Ancient Law, in THE PROBLEMS OF JURISPRUDENCE 371 (L. Fuller ed. 1946). Concerned with fictions of Roman law and jurisdictional common law fictions, we see, "The fact is in both cases that the law has been wholly changed; the fiction is that it remains what it always was." Id. at 370.
  5. born 1748 Jeremy Bentham was a British philosopher, jurist, and social reformer. He is regarded as the founder of modern utilitarianism.
  6. Clark’s Summary of American Law. p 530.
  7. 1Samuel Adams, Our Sacred Honor, Bennett, 217, 1779 - letter to James Warren.
  8. The condition of being susceptible to bribery or corruption. The use of a position of trust for dishonest gain. The American Heritage® Dictionary.
  9. Notes on the State of Virginia, Query 19, 1787. Thomas Jefferson
  10. Thomas Paine: Collected Writings , Foner ed., Library of America Common Sense.
  11. The Writings of Samuel Adams, Cushing, ed., vol. 4, 124, 1779 - letter to James Warren.
  12. Federal. a. [from L. faedus, a league, allied perhaps to Eng. wed. L. vas, vadis, vador, vadimonium. See Heb. to pledge.] 1. Pertaining to a league or contract; derived from an agreement or covenant between parties, particularly between nations. The Romans, contrary to federal right, compelled them to part with Sardinia. 2. Consisting in a compact between parties, particularly and chiefly between states or nations; founded on alliance by contract or mutual agreement; as a federal government, such as that of the United States. 3. Friendly to the constitution of the United States. [See the Noun.]1828 Webster's Dictionary.
  13. The Letters of Richard Henry Lee, Ballagh, ed., vol. 2, p.411, 1786 - letter to Colonel Martin Pickett.
  14. West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
  15. 18 U.S.C. § 981(k)
  16. Extraterritorial Application of the USA PATRIOT Act Prepared for: BUNDESVERBAND ÖFFENTLICHER BANKEN DEUTSCHLANDS, Robert J. Graves, Jones Day
  17. repeal or do away with (a law, right, or formal agreement).
  18. disparage (someone or something).
  19. the position of being without, or waiting for, an owner or claimant.

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