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1. The model of an instrument or legal proceeding, containing the substance and the principal terms to be used in accordance with the laws.
2. The act of pursuing, in legal proceedings and in the construction of legal instruments, the order required by law. Form is usually put in contradistinction to substance.
The difference between matters of form and substance is, that if the matter pleaded is in itself insufficient, without reference to the manner of pleading it, the defect is substantial; but if the fault is in the manner of alleging it, the defect is formal. For example, the omission of a consideration in a contrac,t or of the performance of a condition precedent, when such condition exists, or of knowledge in the defendant in action for malicious prosecution, etc., are all defects in substance. On the other hand, duplicity; a negative pregnant; argumentative pleading; omission of a day, when time is immaterial; of a place, in transitory actions, and the like, are only faults in form.
At the same time that fastidious objections against trifling errors of form arising from mere clerical mistakes are not encouraged or sanctioned by the courts, it has been justly observed that "infinite mischief has been produced by the facility of the courts in overlooking matters of form; it encourages carelessness and places ignorance too much upon a footing with knowledge amongst those who practice the drawing of pleadings."