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PRIVILEGE Definition & Legal Meaning

Definition & Citations:

A particular and peculiar benefit or advantage enjoyed by a person, company, or class, beyond the common advantages of other citizens. An exceptional or extraordinary power or exemption. A right, power, franchise, or immunity held by a person or class, against or beyond the course of the law. Privilege is an exemption from some burden or attendance, with which certain persons are indulged, from a supposition of law that the stations they fill, or the offices they are engaged in, are such as require all their time and care, and that, therefore, without this indulgence, it would be impracticable to execute such offices to that advantage which the public good requires. See Lawyers’ Tax Cases, 8 Heisk. (Tenn.) 049; U. S. v. Patrick (C. C.) 54 Fed. 348; Dike v. State, 38 Minn. 3GG, 38 N. W. 95; International Trust Co. v. American L. & T. Co., 62 Minn. 501, 65 N. W. 78; Com. v. Henderson, 172 Pa. 135, 33 Atl. 308; Tennessee v. Whitworth (C. C.) 22 Fed. 83; Morgan v. Louisiana, 93 U. S. 217, 23 L. 13d. 800; Corfield v. Coryell, 6 Fed. Cas. 551; State v. Giiman, 33 W. Va. 140, 10 S. E. 2S3, 6 L. R. A. 847. In the civil law. A right which the nature of a debt gives to a creditor, and which entitles him to be preferred before other creditors. Civil Code La. art. 3180. In maritime law. An allowance to the master of a ship of the same general nature with primage, being compensation, or rather a gratuity, customary iu certain trades, and which the law assumes to be a fair and equitable allowance, because the contract on both sides is made under the knowledge of such usage by the parties. 3 Chit. Commer. Law, 431. In the law of libel and slander. An exemption from liability for the speaking or publishing of defamatory words concerning another, based on the fact that the statement was made in the performance of a duty, political, judicial, social, or personal. Privilege is either absolute or conditional. The former protects the speaker or publisher without reference to his motives or the truth or falsity of the statement. This may be claimed in respect, for instance, to statements made in legislative debates, in reports of officers to their superiors in the line of their duty, and statements made by judges, witnesses, and jurors in trials in court. Conditional privilege will protect the speaker or publisher unless actual malice and knowledge of the falsity of the statement is shown. This may be claimed where the communication related to a matter of public interest, or where it was necessary to protect one’s private interest and was made to a person having an interest in the same matter. Ramsey v. Cheek, 109 N. C. 270, 13 S. E. 775; Nichols v. Eaton, 110 Iowa, 509, 81 N. W. 792, 47 L. It A. 483, 80 Am. St Rep. 319; Knapp & Co. v. Campbell, 14 Tex. Civ. App. 199, 30 S. W. 705; Hill v. Drainage Co., 79 Hun, 335, 29 N. Y. Supp. 427; Cooley v. Galyon, 109 Tenn. 1, 70 S. W. 007, 00 L. R. A. 139, 97 Am. St. Rep. 823 ; Rohs v. Backer, G Leisk. (Tenn.) 405, 19 Am. Rep. 598; Cranfill v. Haydu, 97 Tex. 544, 80 S. V. 013. In parliamentary law. The right of a particular question, motion, or statement to take precedence over all other business before the house and to be considered imme- diately, notwithstanding any consequent interference with or setting aside the rules of procedure adopted by the house. The matter may be one of “personal privilege,” where it concerns one member of the house in his capacity as a legislator, or of the “privilege of the house,” where it concerns the rights, immunities, or dignity of the entire body, or of “constitutional privilege,” where it relates to some action to be taken or some order of proceeding expressly enjoined by the constitution.


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