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The external appearance or surface of anything; that which is readily observable by a spectator. The words contained in a document in their plain or obvious meaning without regard to external evidence or facts.

The term is applied most frequently in business law to mean the apparent meaning of a contract, paper, bill, bond, record, or other such legal document. A document might appear to be valid on its face, but circumstances may modify or explain it, and its meaning or validity can be altered.

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Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationFree Legal Encyclopedia: Ex proprio motu (ex mero motu) to File