Non est factum

Non est factum (Latin for "it is not [my] deed") is a doctrine in contract law that allows a signing party to escape performance of the agreement. A claim of non est factum means that the signature on the contract was signed by mistake, without knowledge of its meaning, but was not done so negligently. A successful plea would make the contract void ab initio.

Non est factum is difficult to claim as it does not allow for negligence on the part of the signatory, i.e. failure to read a contract before signing it will not allow for non est factum, except in Canada using the precedent of Tilden Rent-A-Car Co. v. Clendenning. In a successful case, the fundamental basis of the signed contract must be completely different from what was intended. In Lloyds Bank v Waterhouse (1990) a father acted as a guarantor to his son's debt when purchasing a farm. The father was illiterate and signed the bank document under the belief that he was acting as the guarantor for the farm only, when the contract was actually for all the debt accumulated by the son. As he was illiterate, this was a mistake as to the document signed and the father was successful in claiming non est factum.

Another notable case on non est factum is Foster v Mackinnon (1869) LR 4 CP 704 where an elderly man signed a bill of exchange but was only shown the back of it. He was granted a new trial.[1]


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  • non est factum — non est fac·tum / nän ˌest fak təm, nōn ˌest fäk tu̇m/ n [New Latin, (it) is not (his or her) deed]: a defense by way of denial of a deed (as the execution of a contract) Merriam Webster’s Dictionary of Law. Merriam Webster. 1996. non est factum …   Law dictionary

  • Non est factum — Non est fac tum [Law L. it is not (his) deed.] (Law) The plea of the general issue in an action of debt on bond. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • non est factum — /non est fssktam/ A plea denying execution of instrument sued on. Blair v. Lockwood, 226 Ky. 412, 11 S.W.2d 107, 109 …   Black's law dictionary

  • non est factum — /nɒn ɛst ˈfæktəm/ (say non est faktuhm) noun Law 1. the denial of someone that the deed in question was executed by them. 2. a defence used when a defendant says he or she signed a document fundamentally different in nature from what he or she… …   Australian English dictionary

  • non est factum — |näˌnestˈfaktəm, |nōˌ noun (plural non est factums) Etymology: New Latin, it was not done : the plea of the general issue in an action of debt on bond or other specialty and on any written instrument in some states …   Useful english dictionary

  • non est factum — [ˌnɒn ɛst faktəm] noun Law a plea that a written agreement is invalid because the defendant was mistaken about its character when signing it. Origin L., lit. it was not done …   English new terms dictionary

  • non est factum — (Latin) principle that can void a signed contract if certain types of errors were made (i.e. unintentional misunderstanding of the contract) …   English contemporary dictionary

  • non est factum — A plea of the general issue in an action on a bond, a specialty, or a covenant, impeaching the instrument upon which suit is brought or denying the execution and signing thereof. Dilworth v Federal Reserve Bank, 170 Miss 373, 154 So 535, 92 ALR… …   Ballentine's law dictionary

  • Factum a judice quod ad officium ejus non pertinet ratum non est — The act of a judge which does not pertain to his office is void …   Ballentine's law dictionary

  • Testis non est iudicare — Da mihi factum, dabo tibi ius (auch: da mihi facta, dabo tibi ius) ist eine römische Rechtsregel. Auf Deutsch bedeutet sie: Gib mir die Tatsachen, ich werde dir das (daraus folgende) Recht geben. Diese Rechtsregel ist verwandt mit: iura novit… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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