Delegatio Law and Legal Definition

Delegatio is an order given by one person to another to pay a debt to, or assume an obligation towards a third person. The term covers different transaction serving various purposes. The most practical form of delegation occurs when a creditor orders his debtor to pay debt to a third person of whom he himself is a debtor. In Smitter v. Geurkink, 261 Mich. 697 (Mich. 1933), the court held that, “ a novation may arise where a debt remains the same, but a new debtor is substituted for the old. This novation may be made without the intervention or privity of the old, or by the debtor's transmission of his debt to another, who accepts the obligation, and is himself accepted by the creditor. This transaction is called delegatio.” Therefore, the term delegatio may be used for novatory purposes. Novation may be where the debt remains the same, however a new creditor is substituted for the old. This is also known as delegatio for the reason that all three parties must assent to the new bargain. [Seymour v. Seymour, 31 Ill. App. 227 (Ill. App. Ct. 1888)].

The term ‘delegatio’ may also be used to refer the writ of dedimus potestatem, whereby a commission is issued to one or more private persons for carrying out some act that is normally performed by a judge. It is generally granted upon the suggestion that a party, who is to do something before a judge or in a court, is too weak to travel. Dedimus potestatum is an outdated procedure that is used to preserve testimony which might accompany the risk of being lost, for example in situations where the witness is terminally ill.