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Substitution means to put one person or thing in the place of another. Common uses of the term “substitution” in a legal sense include: 

  • Substitution of parties” is replacement of a party to an action with a successor or representative upon motion to the court when the party is unable to continue litigating because of death, incompetency, transfer of interest, or loss of the office for which the party was suing or being sued in an official capacity.
  • In the context of administrative law and procedure, cases such as this one from Alaska, explain that “’substitution of judgment” test is the appropriate standard for interpreting regulations when the agency interpretation does not concern administrative expertise as to either complex subject matter or fundamental policy.”
  • In the context of a will, substitution is the putting of one person in the place of another so that they may in default of ability of the former or latter, have the benefit of the legacy. In other words, it is the act of the testator in naming a second legatee who is to take the bequest on failure of the original legatee or after them. 
  • In the context of a novation, cases such as this one from North Carolina, explain that substitution is the replacement of a new agreement or obligation for an old one. 

[Last updated in September of 2021 by the Wex Definitions Team]