Providential Law and Legal Definition

Providential means heaven-sent; being peculiarly fortunate or appropriate as if by divine intervention. In legal parlance, it could refer to an act resulting from divine providence or happening as if through divine intervention.

For certain acts no one can be held responsible. Naturally occurring events that are unavoidable can be considered as an act of providence. In such cases, liability will not rest on one person. However, if the consequences of the natural act are foreseeable, liability can shift to that person as due diligence was not exercised by him/her.

An act cannot be attributed to God, from a legal standpoint, if it is apparent or probable that the result could have been prevented by the exercise of ordinary care and diligence. [Riggins v. Phoenix Life Ins. Co., 2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 40102 (S.D. Ga. June 15, 2006)]

The constitution of some state requires the State Supreme Court to dispose of every case at the first term, unless prevented by providential causes. [Allen v. Georgia, 166 U.S. 138 (U.S. 1897)]

The following are examples of a State Statute and caselaw (Virginia) using the term ‘providential’:

Va. Code Ann. § 58.1-2411. “When any person fails to make any return and pay the full amount of the tax required, there shall be imposed, in addition to other penalties, a penalty to be added to the tax in the amount of ten percent or ten dollars, whichever is greater; however, if the failure is due to providential or other good cause, shown to the satisfaction of the Commissioner, the return, with remittance, may be accepted exclusive of penalties.”

The Commission has power and authority to waive the assessment of any penalty or interest upon any tax or fee assessed by the Commission, and to abate and exonerate any such penalty or interest for providential or other good cause shown to the satisfaction of the Commission. [Commonwealth ex rel. Attorney Gen. v. Washington Gas Light Co., 221 Va. 315 (Va. 1980)]