Legal Definitions of Delegate, Delegation

A person elected to congress by the people of a territory of the United States, who has a seat in congress and a right of debating, but not of voting.3 min read


  1. A person elected to congress by the people of a territory of the United States, who has a seat in congress and a right of debating, but not of voting. The delegates are entitled to send and receive letters free of postage on the same terms and conditions as members of the Senate and House Of Representatives, and also to the same compensation as is allowed to members of Congress.
  2. A person elected to some deliberative assembly, usually one for the nomination of officers.
  3. In contracts, a delegate is one who is authorized by another in the name of the latter; an attorney.

Delegation: It is a kind of novation 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. 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:

  • Of the party delegating, that is, the ancient debtor, who procures another debtor in his stead
  • 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
  • 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.

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 rigbts against the original debtor.

Contracts - The transfer of authority from one or more persons to one or more others. In general, all persons may delegate to another authority to act for them, but to this rule there are exceptions:

  • On account of the thing to be done
  • Because the act is of a personal nature, and incapable of being delegated

The thing to be done must be lawful; for an authority to do a thing unlawful is absolutely void. Sometimes, when the thing to be done is lawful, it must be performed by the person obligated himself.

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. To this general rule that one appointed as agent, trustee and the like cannot delegate his authority, there are exceptions:

  • When the agent is expressly authorized to make a substitution
  • When the authority is implied, as in the following cases:

- When by the laws such power is indispensable in order to accomplish the end proposed, for example, when goods are directed to be sold at auction and the laws forbid such sales except by licensed auctioneers

- 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

- When it is understood by the parties to be the mode in which the particular thing would be done

- When the powers thus delegated are merely mechanical in their nature

As to the form of the delegation, for general purposes it may be by a verbal or by a written declaration not under seal, or by acts and implications. But when the act to be done must be under seal, the delegation must also be under seal.

Legislation - The whole number of the persons who represent a district, a state, etc., in a deliberative assembly. E.g., the delegation from Ohio, the delegation from the city of Philadelphia.

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