I had only previously encountered the phrase as in “surrender by operation of law” until just now I read the latter portion of the phrase used independently by user @ohwilleke in another answer. What does the component phrase “operation of law” denote?

1 Answer 1


"by operation of law" means that something happens automatically even if nobody does something about it.

For example, if property is owned in joint tenancy with right of survivorship, it becomes the sole property of the surviving owner automatically and instantaneously when the other co-owner of the property dies, even if documenting that in the public record takes time.

Similarly, you get the right to buy beer in Colorado immediately after midnight on your twenty-first birthday, without having to apply to any agency to active this right.

And, if you have a claim with a two year statute of limitations and two years and a day pass after the event triggering the statute passes, your claim is extinguished by operation of law even though no court has said so.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .