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legal_language:falsa_demonstrate_non_nocet_175430122018

Falsa demonstrate non nocet

A false description does not vitiate a document.

This maxim, in its application, means, that an instrument, whether it be deed, contract, will, or otherwise, open to construction for an incorrect or false description of a person or thing, in name or quality, will have such a construction put upon it as will carry into effect the intention of the parties, so far as that can be done without interfering with the positive and plain meaning of the document, apart from the incorrect or false description. As, if there be a positive devise of Knowle Field, in the parish of A., to B., which, without more, would be sufficient to describe the land devised, but yet to which the testator adds some further description inconsistent with that already given ; such superadded description will be rejected under this maxim, and not be allowed to vitiate the already perfect devise.

Also, where a man, being married to A., marries B., his first wife A. being still alive and living at his death ; a devise by him to B. as his wife B., naming her, will be good, there being no person else to answer the description, and she being the person named and evidently intended ; and so of illegitimate children called children by name. The same principle applies to the misnaming a devisee, or a thing devised, and in similar cases.

The maxim is also frequently applied in the construction of wills where the intention of the testator is rendered ambiguous by something done by him since the making of the will ; as, where he bequeaths some particular stock and afterwards sells it ; though he have not at the time of his death any stock to answer the particular description of that mentioned in the will, yet, the surrounding circumstances being considered, such an amount of stock of the particular description mentioned by him will be held to pass rather than that the bequest should fail ; and the words used to describe the stock bequeathed will be used to designate the particular stock the testator intended the legatee to take.

Also, in the construction of a deed, where one certainty is added to another certainty, or to a thing before uncertain ; as, if I release all my lands in Dale which I have by descent on the part of my father, and I have lands in Dale on the part of my mother, but no lands by descent on the part of my father, the release is void, and the words of certainty added to the general words, “all my lands,” have effect. But if the release had been of Whit- more, in Dale, which I have by descent on the part of my father, and it were not so, the release would be valid ; for this thing was certainly enough expressed by the first words, and the last were of no effect.

Where, in a lease for lives renewable for ever, the name, Beauchamp Colclough the younger, son of Beauchamp Colclough, of Zion Hill, in the county of Oarlow, Esq., now of the age of fifteen years and upwards, was inserted, no person answering that description ; but there being a Beauchamp Urquhart Colclough, son of Beauchamp, who did not reside at Zion Hill ; and also a Beauchamp, son of Henry, who did reside at Zion Hill ; the maxim, “ Veritas nominis tollit errorem demon- strationis,” was held to apply, the name being substantially correct, and the false description was rejected ; and Beauchamp Urquhart, son of Beauchamp, was held to be the life in the lease. So it is in similar cases ; the maxim, “ Falsa demonstratio non nocet,” being of almost daily application.


6 T. R. 676 ; Plowd. 191 ; Bac. Max. Reg. 13, 24 ; 1 Ld. Raym. 303 ; Shepp. Touch. 5 ; Doe (km. Hubbard v. Hubbard, 15 Q. B. 241 ; Nightingall v. Smith, 1 Exch. 886 ; Griffith v. Penson, 9 Jur. 385, Ex. ; Llewellyn „. Earl of Jersey, 11 M. & W. 183 ; Harrison v. Hyde, 29 L. J. 24, 119, Ex. ; Blundell v. Gladstone, 1 Phil. 279 ; Mellers v. Travers, 8 Bing. 244 ; D. and K. Railway Company v. Bradford, 7 Ir. Law Rep. 57, 624 ; Stanley v. Stanley, 7 L. T. (N.S.) 136 ; Gains v. Rouse, 5 0. B. 422 ; Colclough v. Smith, 10 L. T. (N.S.) 918 ; Meredith's Trust, 10 L. T. (N.S.) 565.


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