In general, by this term is understood the benefit which a man derives from a thing. It is more particularly applied to such benefit as arises from his labor and skill.

It has, however, several other meanings.

Products of the Soil

(1) Under the term profits, is comprehended the produce of the soil, whether it arise above or below the surface as herbage, wood, turf, coals, minerals, stones, also fish in a pond or running water. Profits are divided into profits a prendre, or those taken and enjoyed by the mere act of the proprietor himself; and profits a rendre, namely, such as are received at the hands of, and rendered by another.

Rents and Profits

(2) When land is devised to pay debts and legacies out of rents and profits, the land may be sold; otherwise, if out of the annual rents and profits.

(3) The natural meaning of raising by rents and profits, is by the yearly profits but to prevent an inconvenience the word profits has, in some particular instances, been extended to any profits the land will yield, either by sale or mortgage where cases on raising portions in the life of parents and to the prejudice of the remainder-man are considered. But in no case where there are subsequent restraining words, has the word profit; been extended.

(4) A devise of profit considered, at law and in equity, a devise of the land itself.

(5) Where an assignment of rents and profits recites the intention of the parties then to make a security for money borrowed, and there is a covenant for further assurance, this amounts to an equitable lien, and would entitle the assignee to insist upon a mortgage.

Maritime Commerce

(6) Much doubt has arisen upon the question, whether the profit expected to arise upon maritime commerce be a proper subject of insurance. In some countries, as Holland and France it is illegal to insure profits; but in England, profits expected to arise from a cargo of goods may be insured.

Assets and Trustees

(7) Personal representatives and trustees are generally bound to account for all the profits they make out of the assets entrusted to them.

Breach of Contract

(8) In cases of breach of contract, the plaintiff cannot in general recover damages for the profits he might have made.


(9) It is a general rule that any participation in the profits of a trade or business, makes a person receiving such profits responsible as a partner. But it is proper to observe that to make one a partner he must have such an interest in the profits as will entitle him to an account as it partner; he must be entitled to them as a principal. A clerk who receives a salary to be paid out of the profits would not be so considered, for there is a distinction between receiving the profits as such, and a commission on tile profits, and although this seems, at first sight, but a flimsy distinction, it appears to be a well settled rule of law. The Roman law and the French law recognize the same distinction. Such is also the law of Scotland. When there are no stipulations to the contrary, the profits are to be enjoyed, and the losses borne by all the partners in equal proportions.

Profits of an Estate

(10) A purchaser is entitled to the profits of the estate from the time fixed upon for completing the contract, whether he does or does not take possession of the estate.

Gross vs Net Profits

Profits among merchants are divided into gross profits and net profits. The former are the profits without any deduction for losses; the latter are the same profits, after having deducted all the losses. The sum left after deducting all expenses from gross revenue.