Act Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Act, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Act?

n. in legal context, the word could signify the result of a public deliberation, a decision of a legislative body, of a council, of a court of justice, or of a magistrate. Act also is an instrument in writing to verify facts, say for example an act of parliament. In the context of civil laws or contracts an act is a writing which states that a thing has been said, done, or agreed. Private acts are those made by private persons and not by a public authority, and pertains to private affairs in relation to their receipts and expenditures, schedules, acquittances, and the like.

History and Meaning of Act

Act is a legal term that has a broad range of meanings depending on the context it is being used in. It can signify a decision or judgment made by a court or legislative body, a written document that verifies or records certain facts, or an agreement made between individuals or parties. The term originated from the Latin word “actus,” which means a performance or doing.

In the legal system, acts can take many forms, including acts of parliament, acts of Congress, or acts of a state legislature. These acts are written documents that lay out new laws or modify existing ones. Similarly, a court act is a judgment, ruling, or order given by a court or magistrate. In the context of contracts, an act is a legal document used to record an agreement between two parties.

Examples of Act

  • The Indian Independence Act of 1947 granted India independence from British rule.
  • The Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibited discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.
  • The judge issued an act of bankruptcy against the company, declaring it bankrupt.
  • The couple signed an act of marriage to legalize their union.

Legal Terms Similar to Act

  • Statute: A type of law passed by a legislative body that is also known as an act.
  • Decree: A court-issued act that resolves a legal dispute.
  • Deed: A legal document that records the transfer of property ownership.
  • Resolution: A formal action taken by a legislative body or court to express an opinion or decision on a matter.