We do not use a lot of Latin words or phrases at Patriot Law. However, one simple one that we use on occasion is the FIAT.
There are a number of definitions for the word. In the legal context, in the simplest sense, the word comes from the Latin for “let it be done.” It is effectively direction from a legal authority that something be done. Most commonly, it is a brief “order” from the Court (most commonly obtained in Alberta from a Master in Chambers of the Court of Queen’s Bench) directing that a document be used or registered or filed with an authority of some kind notwithstanding some technical deficiency. Generally, a FIAT is granted by a short notation on the document by the applicable Master or Justice, under the heading “FIAT” and with wording that states something like:
“Let the within [document] be filed/registered/processed notwithstanding [the technical deficiency]”.
Some common examples of the circumstances in which it may be necessary for a lawyer to obtain a Fiat (all of which we have dealt with at Patriot Law) are as follows:
- Permitting an Affidavit sworn outside of the Province of Alberta to be filed with the Court even though it was sworn before a Commissioner for Oaths and not a Notary Public;
- Permitting an Affidavit sworn outside of the Province of Alberta to be filed with the Court or by the Land Titles Office despite the fact that the Notary Public commissioning the affidavit did not affix his or her notarial seal to the affidavit;
- Permitting an Order of the Court to be filed with the Land Titles Office even though an appeal period has not expired;
- Permitting a document to be filed with the Court despite the fact that the deadline for filing the document has passed; and
- Allowing a copy of a document to be filed with the Court or with the Land Titles Office when an original is not available.
Of course, the aim should always be to follow the technical rules. Those rules are important and exist for good reasons. However, our judicial system recognizes that there may be circumstances where the technical rules cannot be precisely followed and it is in the interests of justice that a deviation from the rules be permitted. Accordingly, our justice system allows the exercise of discretion to allow deviation from the technical rules in appropriate circumstances.