"Act of man" is a legal term used to describe acts performed by an individual of sound mind. More specifically, this term is used to describe acts carried out by a person under her or his own discretion and by which an individual is legally bound. It further applies to acts carried out by individuals under the direction, authority or influence of another person of sound mind.
An act of man differs from other naturally occurring acts such as environmental disasters in that actions are made of a person’s own volition. Typically, this term refers to any event which required any level of human intervention or assistance. It is important to distinguish this type of act from other events which occur due to natural forces in order to determine who or what is responsible for such an activity and how consequences for an activity should be judged.
This term is commonly used in lawsuits involving insurance claims. Often, an act of man legal definition is used to determine whether ensuing damages were due to human actions or whether damages were a result of unavoidable accidents or natural activities. It is not unusual for monetary damages to be withheld when it is determined that damages occurred due to an act of man, particularly when an incident occurred due to the intervention of a claimant.
An example of an act of man would be an airplane crashing due to engine tampering or faulty maintenance. While plane crashes may also occur due to environmental reasons, such as birds flying into a plane’s engine, a person tampering with a plane’s mechanisms is a deliberate action made by a person of sound mind. Such a differentiation would be of the utmost importance in determining who or what is to blame for an engine’s failure or malfunction in order to pursue criminal prosecution.
In business, an act of man is also a frequently used term. Similar to how it is used in a legal sense, the term is often used at the onset of certain business dealings to clarify acceptable reasons for failing to honor contracts and agreements. For example, it may be agreed that goods that have been paid for but that are not delivered due to inclement weather conditions or due to the occurrence of a natural disaster may be delayed or replaced without additional cost to the buyer. Whereas goods that are not received because they were intercepted by theft or by other human intervention may not qualify for replacement if not appropriately insured against such activities.