1. As used the phrase null and void, refers to something that binds no one or is incapable of giving rise to any rights or duties under any circumstances.

The phrase was first recorded in 1669.

2. This phrase is popularly believed to be actually redundant, since null is understood to mean “void,” that is, “ineffective.” Black’s law dictionary(9th edition,p 1201) says ‘’The phrase null and void is a common redundancy’’.

2.1 The peculiar custom of redundancy in legal documents dates back to medieval England. The Norman conquest of 1066 put a French-speaking king and nobility in charge of an English-speaking people. The English courts at the time were extremely sensitive to detail and would throw out a petition for something as minor as a misspelling, so getting every detail right was crucial. Thus, lawyers developed a habit of incorporating English synonyms for key French words (or vice versa)This is how we get phrases like null and void and cease and desist.It was as a general matter of belt-and-suspenders caution.

3. However there is a divergent view to this redundancy theory.For this we need to travel a bit outside legal parlance ,understand the difference and then interpolate it into legalese.

4. The difference between null and void as term for nothing stems from their place in physical space. A void is nothing but takes up space; null is nothing at all. In other words, you could measure a void but null offers nothing to measure.

4.1 Void is used to indicate that a function/method does not return any data type. Null indicates that a pointer variable is not pointing to any address. You usually use void when a method does not return a variable.

4.2 Both seem to have Latin roots though NULL so far as I could reference it ,has French origin; but maybe it comes from the Latin nullus, “not any, none,” and VOID from the word vocivus, “unoccupied, vacant.

5. Let us return now to attempt the transfer of this understanding into legalese.The insight I discovered in my study was that during the medieval period lawyers used a mixture of Latin, French and English. To avoid ambiguity they created a different usage and offered pairs of words from different languages for clarity. Sometimes there was little ambiguity to resolve and the pairs merely gave greater emphasis.It was stylistic symbolism. This is a feature of legal style that continues to the present day. Examples of mixed language doublets can be seen: “breaking and entering” (English/French), “fit and proper” (English/French), “lands and tenements” (English/French), “will and testament” (English/Latin). Examples of English-only doublets are: “let and hindrance”, “have and hold.”

6. I would subscribe to the understanding that broadly speaking Null means never existed. Void means it existed but has been made such that it is not in effect.A good example I found in my research was sort of like when you void a cheque. The cheque still exists, right? But once voided , it is no longer usable.[There is a difference also between VOID and VOIDABLE.The former means not legally valid AB INITIO.The latter means CAN BE VOIDED through judgment of a court at yhe option of one of the parties.VOIDING is not dependent on will and volition of any party.

7. There is another interesting aspect.There is the term ANNUL.Are annulment and nullity the same?

Well,in my view they are not.

Annul means to abolish; cancel; invalidate.

A declaration of nullity of marriage applies to marriages which are void. Void Marriages are considered as having never been taken place, they are void from the very beginning. On the other hand, Annulment applies to a marriage that is valid until otherwise declared by the court annulled.

7.1 There is however a tangentially different view.An annulment establishes that the marital status never existed. So annulment and dissolution of marriage (or divorce)are fundamentally different: an annulment renders a marriage void from the beginning, while dissolution of marriage terminates the marriage as of the date of the judgment of dissolution. Although a marriage terminated by annulment is considered never to have occurred, under modern ecclesiastical law and in most states in US today a child born during the marriage is not considered illegitimate after the annulment.(BLACK’S LAW DICTIONARY P 106.9TH ED.)

7.2 In legalese, annulment of judgment means a retroactive obliteration of a judicial decision, having the effect of restoring the parties to their pretrial positions.

Source- BLACK’S LAW DICTIONARY, WIKIPAEDIA, MISC LAW DICTIONARIES, SELF

ANADI VARMA | IRS | Pr. Commissioner Income Tax (Retd.)

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I HOLD TWO POST GRADUATE DEGREES.MA(PHIL)(LKO)AND MBA(HRD)(DELHI). I HAVE SPECIALISED IN LITIGATION LAW. I TOOK VRS FROM ACTIVE SERVICE IN MARCH 2021. I INTEND TO PURSUE FREELANCE INCOME TAX PRACTICE IN ADVISORY,CONSULTANT AND LITIGATION AREAS. I INTEND TO HAVE A FREELANCE ADVISORY ROLE IN RECRU View Full Profile

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