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An assumption made by a court and embodied in various legal doctrines that a fact or concept is true when in actuality it is not true, or when it is likely to be equally false and true.

A legal fiction is created for the purpose of promoting the ends of justice. A common-law action, for example, allowed a father to bring suit against his daughter's seducer, based on the legal fiction of the loss of her services. Similarly, the law of torts encompasses the legal fiction of the rule of Vicarious Liability, which renders an employer responsible for the civil wrongs of his or her employees that are committed during their course of employment. Even though the employer generally is uninvolved in the actual act constituting the tort, the law holds the employer responsible since, through a legal fiction, he or she is deemed to be in direct control of the employee's actions. A seller of real estate might, for example, be liable in an action for Fraud committed by his or her agent in the course of a sale.

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


Collins Dictionary of Law © W.J. Stewart, 2006
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