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An individual who hires employees or servants to perform services and who directs the manner in which such services are performed.A court officer appointed by a judge to perform such jobs as examining witnesses, taking testimony, computing damages, or taking oaths, affidavits, or acknowledgments of deeds.

A master makes a report of his or her findings to the judge so a decree can be formulated. A master in chancery was an officer in Chancery Court in England. In the U. S. these duties may be rendered by a court clerk, commissioner, auditor, or referee.

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


n. 1) employer, in the area of law known as "master and servant," which more properly should be called employer and employee. 2) a person, supposedly with special expertise, appointed by a judge to investigate a problem (such as whether a parent's home is appropriate for child visitation) and report back to the judge his/her findings and recommendation. (See: master and servant, employment, respondeat superior)

Copyright © 1981-2005 by Gerald N. Hill and Kathleen T. Hill. All Right reserved.


1 a nearly obsolete term for an EMPLOYER under a contract of employment in the sense of service rather than for services. The law was treated under the title ‘master and servant’ but is now usually collected under the title ‘employment law’, which includes much to do with trade unions. See EMPLOYMENT, UNFAIR DISMISSAL.
2 an officer of the Supreme Court of Judicature subordinate to a judge.
Collins Dictionary of Law © W.J. Stewart, 2006

MASTER. This word has several meanings. 1. Master is one who has control over a servant or apprentice. A master stands in relation to his apprentices, in loco parentis, and is bound to fulfill that relation, which the law generally enforces. He is also entitled to be obeyed by his apprentices, as if they were his children. Bouv. Inst. Index, h.t.
     2.-2. Master is one who is employed in teaching children, known generally as a schoolmaster; as to his powers, see Correction.
     3.-3. Master is the name of an officer: as, the ship Benjamin Franklin, whereof A B is master; the master of the rolls; master in chancery, &c.
     4.-4. By master is also understood a principal who employs another to perform some act or do something for him. The law having adopted the maxim of the civil law, qui facit per alium facit per se; the agent is but an instrument, and the master is civilly responsible for the act of his agent, as if it were his own, when he either commands him to do an act, or puts him in a condition, of which such act is a result, or by the absence of due care and control, either previously in the choice of his agent, or immediately in the act itself, negligently suffers him to do an injury. Story, Ag. Sec. 454, note; Noy's Max. c. 44; Salk. 282; 1 East. R. 106; 1 Bos. & Pul. 404; 2 H. Bl. 267; 5 Barn. & Cr. 547; 2 Taunt. R. 314; 4 Taunt. R. 649; Mass. 364, 385; 17 Mass. 479, 509; 1 Pick. 47 5; 4 Watts, 222; 2 Harr. & Gill., 316; 6 Cowen, 189; 8 Pick. 23; 5 Munf. 483. Vide Agent; Agency; Driver; Servant.

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