non est factum
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non est factum‘it is not the deed,’ in English law the plea that what seems to be a person's deed is not. It is usually raised when there has been a mistake as to the nature of the transaction. The courts do not accept it lightly. Where old and infirm people sign things thinking they are not legal documents, the plea is more likely to be successful.
NON EST FACTUM, pleading. The general issue in debt on bond or other
specialty, and is, in form, as follows: "I and the said C D, by E F, his
attorney, comes and defends the wrong and injury, when, &c., and says, that
the said supposed writing obligatory, (or 'indenture,' or 'articles of
agreement,' according to the subject of the action,) is not his deed. And of
this he puts himself upon the country." 6 Rand. Rep. 86; 1 Litt. R. 158.
2. Though non est factum is, in most cases, the general issue in debt on specialty, yet, when the deed is only inducement to the action, the general issue is nil debet. Steph. Pl. 174, n.
3. In covenant tlie general issue is non est factum; and its form is similar to that in debt on a specialty. Id. 174. It is, however, said, that in covenant there is, strictly speaking, no general issue, as the plea of non est factum only puts the deed in issue, as in debt on a specialty, and not the breach of covenant or any other matter of defence. 1 Chit. PI. 482. See generally, 1 Harring. R. 230; 6 Munf. R. 462; Minor, R. 103; 1 Harr. & Gill, 324; 13 John. R, 430; 12 John. R. 337; 2 N. H. Rep. 74; 4 Wend. R. 519; 2 N. & M. 492. See Issint; Special non est factum.