A disagreement or difference between two parts of the same legal proceeding, which ought to agree together. Variances are between the writ and the declaration, and between the declaration and the evidence.
When the variance is a matter of substance, as if the writ sounds in contract, and the other in tort, and e converso, or if the writ demands one thing or subject, and the declaration another, advantage may be taken of it, even in arrest of judgment; for it is the writ which gives authority to the court to proceed in any given suit, and, therefore, the court can have no authority to hear and determine a cause substaatially different from that in the writ. But if the variance is in matter of mere form, as in time or place, when that circumstance is immaterial, advantage can only be taken of it by plea in abatement.
A variance by disagreement in some particular point or points only between the allegation and the evidence, when upon a material point, is as fatal to the party on whom the proof lies, as a total failure of evidence. For example; the plaintiff declared in covenant for not repairing, pursuant to the covenant in a lease, and stated the covenant, as a covenant to "repair when and as need should require;" and issue was joined on a traverse of the deed alleged. The plaintiff at the trial produced the deed in proof, and it appeared that the covenant was to "repair when and as need should require, and at farthest after notice:" the latter words having been omitted in the declaration. This was held to be a variance, because the additional words were material, and qualified the effect of the contract. But a variance in mere form or in matter quite immaterial, will not be regarded.
This entry contains material from Bouvier's Legal Dictionary, a work published in the 1850's.
Courtesy of the 'Lectric Law Library
In legal procedure, a discrepancy between what is charged or allegedand what is proved or offered as proof. In zoning law, an exemption from theapplication of a zoning ordinance or regulation permitting a use that variesfrom that otherwise permitted. The exception is granted by the appropriateauthority in special circumstances to protect against undue hardship wrought bystrict enforcement.