NEGATIVE PREGNANT, pleading. Such form of negative expression, in pleading, as may imply or carry within it an affirmative.
2. This is faulty, because the meaning of such form of expression is ambiguous. Example: in trespass for entering the plaintiff's house, the defendant pleaded, that the plaintiff's daughter gave him license to do so; and that he entered by that license. The plaintiff replied that he did not enter by her license. This was considered as a negative pregnant and it was held the plaintiff should have traversed the entry by itself, or the license by itself, and not both together. Cro. Jac. 87.
3. It may be observed that this form of traverse may imply; or carry within it, that the license was given, though the defendant did not enter by that license. It is therefore in the language of pleading said to be pregnant with the admission, namely, that a license was given: at the same time, the license is not expressly admitted, and the effect therefore is, to leave it in doubt whether the plaintiff means to deny the license, or to deny, that the defendant entered by virtue of that license. It is this ambiguity which appears to constitute the fault. 28 H. VI. 7; Hob. 295; Style's Pr. Reg. Negative Pregnant. Steph. PI. 381; Gourd, Pl. c. 6, 29-37.
4. This rule, however, against a negative pregnant, appears, in modern times at least, to have received no very strict construction; for many cases have occurred in which, upon various grounds of distinction from the general rule, that form of expression has been free from objection. See several instances in Com. Dig. Pleader, R. 6; 1 Lev. 88; Steph. Pl. 383. Vide Arch. Civ. PI. 218; Doct. Pl. 817; Lawe's Civ. Pl. 114; Gould, Pl. c. 6, 36.