The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary







In law a commission is a patent which allows a person to take possession of a state office and carry out official acts and duties. Although the term commissioned officer is a military term, civilian officers of the government such as judges, justices of the peace, marshals, and cabinet ministers also are commissioned, as well as many others.

A commission does not appoint a person to an office. The appointment occurs before the granting of the commission itself; however, the commission is necessary for the person to exercise the office. This is best illustrated in the landmark Marbury v. Madison of the United States Supreme Court, which made a distinction between the appointment of a person to an office and the actual assumption of the office. The first occurs once the appointing officer, in this case the President of the United States, makes the appointing act, and the second occurs upon reception of the commission.

In the United Kingdom, to put an office in commission means to take an office normally held by one person, such as Lord High Treasurer, and assign it to a board of commissioners. The office of First Lord of the Treasury is actually the most senior commissioner sharing the post of Lord High Treasurer.

A commission may also be the entire government agency that operates under the authority of a government officer.

A commission is also a fee or allowance given to a sales person, realtor, stockbroker or agent in exchange for services rendered, often some percentage of the sales s/he is responsible for.

See also

writ, warrant (legal), warrant officer, stock broker, Royal Commission, Securities and Exchange Commission

Last updated: 08-29-2005 12:32:56
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