Some legal causes of action can survive the death of the claimant or plaintiff, for example actions founded in contract law. However, some actions are personal to the plaintiff, defamation of character being one notable example. Therefore, such an action, where it relates to the private character of the plaintiff, comes to an end on his death, whereas an action for the publication of a false and malicious statement which causes damage to the plaintiff's personal estate will survive to the benefit of his or her personal representatives.
It has been argued by academics and acknowledged by the Courts that notwithstanding the Latinate form in which the proposition is expressed its origins are less antiquated. It has been described by one Lord Chancellor (Viscount Simon) as:
...not in fact the source from which a body of law has been deduced, but a confusing expression, framed in the solemnity of the Latin tongue, in which the effect of death upon certain personal torts was inaccurately generalised.Early judicial discussions of the term can be found in Pinchon's case and Hambly v. Trott.
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