Meaning: That which, is useful is not rendered useless by that which is useless.
This rule is chiefly applicable to what is called surplusage, or the introduction of useless and unnecessary words in deeds, contracts, pleadings, etc, which words, under this rule, may be rejected, and will not be allowed to vitiate, or render useless, the instrument in which they are so introduced.
Deeds and other writings, good in part and bad in part, whether through defect in the consideration, the drawing of the instrument, or otherwise, come within this rule.
And so it is as to misnomer in grants. Though there be a mistake in the name of the grantee in the grant, the grant is nevertheless good. As, if a grant be to J. S., and Em. his wife, and her name is Emelin ; or to Alfred Eitzjames, by the name of Etheldred Fitzjames ; or a grant be to EobertEarl of Pembroke, where his name is Henry ; or to George Bishop of Norwich, where his name is John ; or where a grant be to a mayor and commonalty ; or a dean and chapter, and the mayor or dean is not named by his proper name ; or a grant to J. S., wife of W. S., where she is sole. So a grant to W. at Stile, by the name of W. at Goppe, is good notwithstanding the mistake. All these and such like grants are good under this maxim, and under the rule. “ Nihil facit error nominis cum de corpore constat; ” notwithstanding the error in the description. So a grant of lands in the parish of St. Andrew's, Holborn, in the possession of W. G. ; the lands being in the parish of St. Sepulchre's, though in possession of W. G., is not good ; but, if the grant had been of lands in the possession of W. G. in the parish of St. Andrew's, it would have been good by reason of the first description being certain, notwithstanding the false addition.
Surplusage in pleading does not vitiate the plea unless it is such as is contrary to the matter before pleaded, and then it is said to do so, because it cannot be known what answer to make to the plea.
To obviate uncertainty in pleadings, however, and pleadings framed to embarrass, it has recently enacted that, if any pleading be so framed as to prejudice, embarrass, or delay the fair trial of the action, the opposite party may apply to the court or a judge to strike out or amend such pleading, etc, and this is now of common practice.
In divisible contracts, where there are several considerations for separate and distinct contracts, one legal and the other illegal, the contract supported by the legal consideration may stand though the other may not. The invalidity of the consideration for the one does not necessarily imply the invalidity of the consideration for the other. And where there are separate and independent covenants in the same deed the same rule applies, and the invalidity of the one covenant does not necessarily invalidate the other. For, it is said, that when a good thing and a void thing are put together in the same grant, the law shall make such a construction as that the grant shall be good for that which is good, and void for that which is void, under this maxim, “Utile per inutile non vitiatur” and also in accordance with the rules“, Benigne faciendae sunt interpretationes, propter simplicitatem laicorum, ut res magis valeat quam pereat ;”Falsa demonstratio non nocet“ and ” De minimis non curat lex.“