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Lat.: in fact. By virtue of the deed or accomplishment; actually. Used to refer to a situation in which a condition or institution is operating as though it were official or pursuant to law, but that is not legally authorized. Such situations may arise where, for example, an authorizing law is declared invalid, or because required legal formalities have not been satisfied.
EXAMPLE: Nursing homes were established throughout a particular state under the authority of a newly enacted state law. Now, two years later, portions of the law are found to be unconstitutional. Instead of closing all the homes that were set up, the state permits them to continue to operate under its de facto authority until the law is amended and legal.
The de facto acts of a person or entity may for some purposes regarded as legally binding. Compare de jure.
DE FACTO AUTHORITY: authority exercised in fact.
DE FACTO BOARD OF DIRECTORS: the board which in fact is in charge of the affairs of a company and is recognized as such and is performing the legitimate functions and duties of a board.
DE FACTO CORPORATION: one which has inadvertently failed to comply with the provisions of the laws relating to the creation of a corporation but has made a good faith effort to do so and has in good faith exercised the franchise of a corporation. See also corporation [DE FACTO CORPORATION].
DE FACTO COURT: one established and exercising judicial functions under the authority of an apparently valid statute. If the statute is subsequently declared invalid, the court exists in fact though not in law. See de jure.
DE FACTO INCUMBENT: one who was elected in an election which is later declared void.
DE FACTO JUDGE: one acting under color of right, and who exercises the judicial functions he assumed while the appointment is contested.
DE FACTO JURY: a jury selected in pursuance of a void law.
DE FACTO OFFICER: one whose title is not good in law, but who in fact possesses an office and discharges his duties.
DE FACTO SEGREGATION: segregation which results without purposeful action by government officials; real or actual segregation which results from social, psychological, or economic conditions.
DE FACTO TRUSTEE: one who assumes an office or position under color of right or title and who exercises the duties of the office.
Source: Barron's Dictionary of Legal Terms, Steven H. Gifis, 5th Edition; © 2016