delegation


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Delegation

A sending away; a putting into commission; the assignment of a debt to another; the entrusting of another with a general power to act for the good of those who depute him or her; a body of delegates. The transfer of authority by one person to another.

The body of delegates from a state to a national nominating convention or from a county to a state or other party convention. The whole body of delegates or representatives sent to a convention or assembly from one district, place, or political unit is collectively spoken of as a delegation.

Delegation of powers, for example, occurs when a government branch in which authority is placed imparts such authority to another branch or to an Administrative Agency. The U.S. Constitution delegates different powers to the three branches of government: the executive, legislative, and judicial. However, certain powers may not be transferred from one branch of government to another, such as the congressional power to declare war.

Congress has wide latitude in delegating powers to administrative agencies, and the breadth of the powers given to these agencies has led to a perception that administrative bodies are a "fourth branch" of the U.S. government. On a few occasions, mostly in the early twentieth century, the U.S. Supreme Court has applied the "non-delegation doctrine," which restricts the ability of Congress to delegate responsibilities reserved for one of the three branches of government established in the Constitution. However, the Court has seldom invoked this doctrine and rarely finds that Congress has exceeded its authority in delegating powers to agencies. Legal scholars nevertheless continue to debate what the proper limits of congressional delegation should be.

Cross-references

Administrative Law and Procedure.

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

delegation

the assignment of a duty to another person or the grant of authority to another person to act on behalf of one or more others for agreed purposes. In general, an agent may not delegate (although delegation is permitted in certain limited circumstances).
Collins Dictionary of Law © W.J. Stewart, 2006

DELEGATION, civil law. It is a kind of novation, (q.v.) by which the original debtor, in order to be liberated from his creditor, gives him a third person, who becomes obliged in his stead to the creditor, or to the person appointed by him.
     2. It results from this definition that a delegation is made by the concurrence of three parties, and that there may be a fourth. There must be a concurrence, 1. Of the party delegating, that is, the ancient debtor, who procures another debtor in his stead. 2. Of the party delegated, who enters into the obligation in the place of the ancient debtor, either to the creditor of to some other person appointed by him. 3. Of the creditor, who, in consequence of the obligation contracted by the party delegated, discharges the party delegating. Sometimes there intervenes a fourth party namely, the person indicated by the creditor in whose favor the person delegated becomes obliged, upon the indication of the creditor, and by the order of the person delegating. Poth. Ob. part. 3, c. 2, art. 6. See Louis. Code, 2188, 2189; 3 Wend. 66; 5 N. H. Rep. 410; 20 John. R. 76; 1 Wend. 164; 14 Wend. 116; 11 Serg. & Rawle, 179.
     3. Delegation is either perfect or imperfect. It is perfect, When the debtor who makes the delegation, is discharged by the creditor. It is imperfect when the creditor retains his rights against the original debtor. 2 Duverg. n. 169. See Novation.

DELEGATION, contracts. The transfer of authority from one or more persons to one or more others.
     2. In general, all persons sui juris may delegate to another authority to act for them, but to this rule there are exceptions; 1st. On account of the thing to be done; and 2d. Because the act is of a personal nature, and incapable of being delegated. 1. The thing to be done must be lawful; for an authority to do a thing unlawful, is absolutely void. 5 Co. 80. 2. Sometimes, when the thing to be done is lawful, it must be performed by the person obligated himself. Com. Dig. Attorney, C 3; Story, on Ag. Sec. 12.
     3. When a bare power or authority has been given to another, the latter cannot in general delegate that authority or any part of it to a third person, for the obvious reason that the principal relied upon the intelligence, skill and ability of his agent, and he cannot have the same confidence in a stranger. Bac. Ab. Authority, D; Com. Dig. Authority, C 3; 12. Mass. 241; 4 Mass. 597; 1 Roll. Ab. Authority, C 1, 15; 4 Camp. 183; 2 M. & Selw. 298, 301; 6 Taunt. 146; 2 Inst. 507.
     4. To this general rule that one appointed as agent, trustee, and the like, cannot delegate his authority, there are exceptions: 1. When the agent is expressly authorized to make a substitution. 1 Liverm. on Ag. 54. 2. When the authority is implied, as in the following: cases: 1st. When by the laws such power is indispensable in order to accomplish the end proposed, as, for example, when goods are directed to be sold at auction, and the laws forbid such sales except by licensed auctioneers. 6 S. & R. 386. 2d. When the employment of such substitute is in the ordinary course of trade, as where it is the custom of trade to employ a ship broker or other agent for the purpose of procuring freight and the like. 2 M. & S. 301; 3 John. Ch. R. 167, 178; 6 S. & R. 386. 3d. When it is understood by the parties to be the mode in which the particular thing would be done. 9 Ves. 234; 3 Chit. Com Law, 206. 4th. When the powers thus delegated are merely mechanical in their nature. 1 Hill, (N. Y.) R. 501 Bunb. 166; Sugd. on Pow. 176.
     5. As to the form of the delegation, it may be for general purposes, by a verbal or by a written declaration not under seal, or by acts and implications. 3 Chit. Com. Law, 5, 194, 195; 7 T. R. 350. But when the act to be done must be under seal, the delegation must also be under seal. Co. Litt. 48 b; 5 Binn. 613; 14 S. & R. 331 See Authority.

DELEGATION, legislation. It signifies the whole number of the persons who represent a district, a state, and the like, in a deliberative assembly; as, the delegation from Ohio, the delegation from the city of Philadelphia.

A Law Dictionary, Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States. By John Bouvier. Published 1856.
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