De Facto Law and Legal Definition

De Facto is a legal term meaning "in fact" or "in reality", which is used to qualify many legal terms. For example, de fact segregation refers to segregation which occurs without any official action by government officials, but results from social, psycholological, or economic conditions.

De facto may mean existing in fact whether with lawful authority or not. In another example, a corporation may be said to have de facto corporate status by inadvertently failing to fully satisfy all legal requirements for the creation of corporate existence, but has exercised corporate powers in good faith. Other applications include de facto authority, de facto court, de facto officers, and others.