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Modification; changing a thing without obliterating it.

An alteration is a variation made in the language or terms of a legal document that affects the rights and obligations of the parties to it. When this occurs, the alteration is material and the party who did not consent to the change can be released from his or her duties under the document by a court.

When an essential part of a writing has been cut, torn, burned, or erased, the alteration is also known as a mutilation.

The alteration of a document by someone other than a party to it is called a spoliation.

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


a change that, when made in a legal document, may affect its validity. See ALTERATION OF ARTICLES, ALTERATION OF BILL OF EXCHANGE, ALTERATION OF CAPITAL.
Collins Dictionary of Law © W.J. Stewart, 2006

ALTERATION. An act done upon an instrument in writing by a party entitled under it, without the consent of the other party, by which its meaning or language is changed; it imports some fraud or design on the part of him who made it. This differs from spoliation, which is the mutilation of the instrument by the act of a stranger.
     2. When an alteration has a tendency to mislead, by so changing the character of the instrument, it renders it void; but if the change has not such tendency, it will not be considered an alteration. 1 Greenl. Ev. 566.
     3. A spoliation, on the contrary, will not affect the legal character of the instrument, so long as the original writing remains legible; and, if it be a deed, any trace of the seal remains. 1 Greenl. Ev. Sec. 566. See Spoliation.

A Law Dictionary, Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States. By John Bouvier. Published 1856.
References in periodicals archive ?
English Heritage sees permanent building alterations as the last option after temporary or managed access solutions have been tried.
WALES' oldest churches and chapels could be subject to strict new rules on building alterations following a review of controls on listed buildings.
But officers at Wirral council, which owns the building, have recommended they do not get the lease on the property because of concerns over traffic and building alterations needed to turn the former arts centre into a primary school.
This could mean making substantial building alterations.
The two buildings, built in 1904-7 and designed by Francis Hatch Kimball, are city landmarks so building alterations must receive approval from the city's Landmarks Preservation Commission.
Alan's friend, builder Rob Boscott, has volunteered to do the building alterations to their house in Wolston, Coventry building firm Hayley- Rowe Builders offered them materials and members of the church's youth group have volunteered their labour.
Many small independent home owners - who for years have complained about the level of allowances paid by the city council - said the building alterations would force many out of business.
Mrs Giess, who is waiting for building alterations to be carried out at their Coventry home before her husband can return permanently, is furious about the incident last Monday night.
A COVENTRY woman claims a housing association is dragging its feet over building alterations to aid her paralysed husband.

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