Legal Dictionary

ratification

Legal Definition of ratification

Related terms


Definition of ratification

Noun

ratification (plural ratifications)

  1. the act or process of ratifying, or the state of being ratified
  2. a formal declaration of agreement to a treaty etc

Further reading

Ratification is a principal's approval of an act of its agent where the agent lacked authority to legally bind the principal. The term applies to private contract law, international treaties, and constitutionals in federations such as the United States and Canada.

Private law

In contract law, the need for ratification can arise in two ways: Where the agent attempts to bind the principal despite lacking the authority to do so, and where the principal authorizes the agent to make an agreement, but reserves the right to approve it. An example of the first situation is where an employee not normally responsible for procuring supplies contracts to do so on the employer's behalf. The employer's choice on discovering the contract is to ratify it or to repudiate it.

The other situation is common in trade union collective bargaining agreements. The Union authorizes one or more people to negotiate and sign an agreement with management, but the agreement does not become legally binding until the union members ratify the agreement. If they do not approve it, the agreement is of no effect, and negotiations resume.

Ratification of an international treaty

The ratification of international treaties is accomplished by filing instruments of ratification as provided for in the treaty. In most democracies, the legislature authorizes the government to ratify treaties through standard legislative procedures (i.e., passing a bill).

In the UK, treaty ratification is a Royal Prerogative, exercised by Her Majesty's Government; however, by convention called the Ponsonby Rule, treaties are usually placed before parliament for 21 days before ratification.

In the US, the treaty power is a coordinated effort between the Executive branch and the Senate. The President may form and negotiate a treaty, but the treaty must be advised and consented to by a two-thirds vote in the Senate. Only after the Senate approves the treaty can the President ratify it. Once a treaty is ratified, it becomes binding on all the states under the Supremacy Clause. While the United States House of Representatives does not vote on it at all, the requirement for Senate advice and consent to ratification makes it considerably more difficult in the US than in other democratic republics to rally enough political support for international treaties. Also, if implementation of the treaty requires the expenditure of funds, the House of Representatives may be able to block, or at least impede, such implementation by refusing to vote for the appropriation of the necessary funds.

Ratification of a constitution

Federations usually require the support of both the federal government and some given percentage of the constituent governments for amendments to the federal constitution to take effect.

References:

  1. Wiktionary. Published under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.



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