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- Ab initio
“From the beginning” – As per the law of contract, a minor’s contract is void ab initio.
- Actus reus
“A guilty or prohibited act” – an act which is illegal, such as theft.
- Ad hoc
“For this”; “for a particular purpose” – a committee set up to deal with a particular situation is an ad hoc committee.
- Ad idem
“Towards the same” – Indicates that the parties to a transaction are in agreement.
- Ad Infinitum
“Forever”; “without limit”; “indefinitely”.
- Ad litem
“for the lawsuit”; “for the purposes of the lawsuit being prosecuted”.
- A grant ad litem is the appointment by a court of a person to act on behalf of an estate in court proceedings, when the estate’s proper representatives are unable or unwilling to act.
- A guardian ad litem is the former name for a litigation friend responsible for the conduct of legal proceedings on behalf of someone else.
- Ad quod damnum
“According to the harm” – Used in tort law. Implies that the reward or penalty ought to correspond to the damage suffered or inflicted.
- Ad referendum
‘’Subject to reference’’– Denoting a contract or other matter that is subject to agreement by other parties and finalisation of the details.
- Ad valorem
“According to value” – In some specific situations, court fee is determined ad valorem.
“Sworn written statement”.
“Elsewhere”- a claim that a person was elsewhere when a crime was committed. If someone is accused of a crime their alibi is: • evidence that the person was somewhere else when the crime was committed; or • an attempt to prove that the person was somewhere else when the crime was committed.
- Amicus curiae
“Friend of the court or tribunal” – a person who gives information to a court regarding a case before it so as to assist it with research, argument, or submissions.
“Intention” – The term is often used in combination; for examples:
- animus furandi – the intention to steal or to do wrong;
- animus manendi – the intention to remain in one place (for the purposes of the law relating to domicile);
- animus donandi: – the intention to transfer property;
- animus Contrahendi: – the intention to contract.
“Before” – for example ante mortem means before death.
- Ante litem motam
“After suit moved or commenced” – Depositions in relation to the subject of a suit, made after litigation has commenced, are sometimes so termed.
- Audi alteram partem
“Hear the other side/other party” – it refers to the idea that one cannot be fairly judged unless the cases for and against them have been heard. It is an important principle of natural justice.
- Bona fide
“In good faith” – Implies sincere good intention regardless of outcome. For example, law gives more importance to a sale deed of bona fide purchaser for value without notice.
- Causa mortis
“Caused by death”
- Caveat emptor
“Let the buyer beware” – It is a common-law maxim warning a purchaser that he could not claim that his purchases were defective unless he protected himself by obtaining express guarantees from the vendor.
The maxim is modified under the Sale of Goods Act that the contracts for the sale of goods have implied terms requiring the goods to correspond with their description and any sample and, if they are sold in the course of a business, to be of satisfactory quality and fit for any purpose made known to the seller.
“To be informed/apprised” – a type of writ seeking judicial review.
- Compos mentis
“Of sound mind”.
“In the presence of the people”.
- Corpus delicti
“The body of the offence” – • the body of a person who has been killed unlawfully; or • the facts which make up an offence.
- Culpa lata
- Culpa levis
- De facto
“In fact” – Existing as a matter of fact rather than of right.
- De facto
“In fact or in reality” – For examples:
- De facto authority : Authority that exists in reality.
- De facto government : A government that sets itself up in place of the legal government, often by use of force.
- De facto judge : Someone who performs the duties of a judge but who does not have legitimate judicial authority.
- De facto marriage : A union of two parties who live together as husband and wife but in which the legality of the marriage is in some way defective.
- De jure
“Of law”; “Legally”; “Rightfully”– As a matter of legal right; by right ; The condition of being in compliance with all applicable laws; legitimate and lawful.
- De novo
“Anew” – Usually used in the context of “trial de novo” – a new trial ordered when the previous one failed to reach a conclusion.
“A saying” – An observation by a judge with respect to a point of law arising in a case before him.
- Doli incapax
“Incapable of committing wrong”– A child under the age of 10 is deemed doli incapax i.e. incapable of committing any crime.
- Donatio inter vivos
“A donation among the living”
- Donatio mortis causa
“A donation due to death”
- Ex gratia
“Done as a matter of favour” – An ex gratia payment is one not required to be made by a legal duty.
- Ex officio
“By virtue of holding an office” – The Chief Justice is ex officio a member of the Court of Appeal.
- Ex parte
“On the part of one side only”; On behalf”; “Done by one side only” –
* Ex parte decree : A decree passed against a defendant in absentia.
* Ex parte hearing : A judicial hearing held for the benefit of one party only, without notice to or attendance by an adverse party.
* Ex parte injunction : An injunction issued by a court after hearing only the party requesting it.
* Ex parte divorce : A divorce proceeding in which only one spouse attends or participates.
- Ex post facto
‘In the light of subsequent events’ – Describing any legal act, such as a statute, that has retrospective effect (it affects past acts as well as future ones).
- Guardian ad litem
“Person appointed by a court to represent the interests of a minor or incompetent person in a legal proceeding.”
- Habeas Corpus
“May you have the body”;”You should have the body for submitting”; “The right of the prisoner to go to court.”
A writ used to challenge the legality of detention. Orders the detaining party to “have the (living) body” of the detained brought before the court where the detention will be investigated.
- In curia
“In open court”.
- In personam
“Against the person”
- Inter vivos
“Between the living;” or “From one person to another”.
- Ipse dixit
“He himself said it.” An unsupported statement that rests solely on the authority of the individual who makes it.
- Mala fide
“In bad faith”.
“We command” – A writ used to compel an official to perform a required act.
- Mutatis mutandis
“Making such changes or alterations as the sense requires”
- Non obstante
- Per incuriam
“Through lack of care” – It refers to a judgment of a court which has been decided without reference to a statutory provision or earlier judgment which would have been relevant.
- Per se
- Persona non grata
“An unacceptable/unwelcome person” – A person who is officially considered unwelcome by a host country in which they are residing in a diplomatic capacity.
- Prima facie
“At first face/sight”.
- Pro confesso
“As if confessed”.
- Quantum meruit
“As much as it deserves; “As much as s/he has earned”.
“Apparently but not really”.
- Ratio decidendi
“Reasons/grounds for the decision”.
- Res integra
“An undecided question of law”.
- Res ipsa loquitur
“The thing speaks for itself” – Used in tort law when there is no proof of what caused the harm, but it is most likely only the thing that could have caused the harm.
- Res judicita
“A thing or matter adjudged” – A matter that has been finally adjudicated, meaning no further appeals or legal actions by the involved parties is now possible.
- Sine die
“Without a day”; “Taken to mean without fixing a day for continuation” – Used when the court is adjourning without specifying a date to re-convene.
- Sine qua non
“Without which (Indispensable, necessary)” – Refers to some essential event or action, without which there can be no specified consequence.
- Stare decisis
“Hold on to what was decided”; “To stand by things decided’.
- Status quo
“Current/existing state of affairs”.
- Status quo ante
“The way things were before”; “The state of affairs that existed previously”.
- Sub judice
“Under judgement”; “Under judicial consideration”; “Not yet decided”.
- Sub silentio
“In silence” – It is often used as a reference to something that is implied but not expressly stated. Commonly, the term is used when a court overrules the holding of a case without specifically stating that it is doing so.
- Sui juris
“Of his own right”.
- Suo motu
“On its own motion”
“Above” – Used in citations to refer to a previously cited source.
- Terra nullius
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- Actori incumbit onus probandi
“The burden of proof lies on the plaintiff”.
- Actus non facit reum, nisi mens sit rea
“The act does not make a person guilty unless the mind is also guilty.” Thus, where one engaged in doing a lawful act, without any wrongful intention, unfortunately and inadvertently kills another person, the homicide is excusable.
- Aequitas nunquam contravenit leges
“Equity never opposes the law.” To supplement, and not to contravene, is its object.
- Aequitas sequitur legem
“Equity follows the law.” Equity cannot alter the law of the land, but follows it.
- Agentes et consentientes pari poena plectentur
“Acting and consenting parties are liable to the same punishment.” A person aiding and abetting the actual commission of a crime, either at the scene of its commission or else- where, is equally liable with the perpetrator, the former being a principal in the second degree, and the latter in the first degree.
If A., with intent to murder, inflicts on B. an injury dangerous to life, aided and abetted by C, who is aware of the intent, they are both equally guilty and punishable.
- Consuetudo pro lege servatur.
“Custom is protected \u00a0by the law.”
- Culpa lata dole aequiparatur
“Gross negligence is equivalent to intentional wrong.”
- Culpa paena par esto
”Let the punishment be in proportion to the crime.”
- De minimis lex non curat
“The law does not notice trifling matters.”
- Delegatus non potest delegare
“An agent cannot delegate his authority.”
- Ex dolo malo non oritur actio
“An action doe \u00a0not arise from a fraud.”
- Fatetur facinus qui judicium fugit
“He who flees judgment confesses his guilt.”
- Fraus et jus nunquam cohabitant
“Fraud and justice never dwell together.”
- Ignorantia facti excusat, ignorantia juris neminem excusat
“Ignorance of fact excuses, ignorance of the law (which every one is presumed to know) excuses no one.”
- In jure non remota causa sed proxima spectatur
“In law not the remote but the proximate cause is looked at.”
- In jure, non remota, sed proxima spectantur
“The law has regard to things near at hand, and not to those remote.”
Especially applicable in questions of damages, with reference to which one of the most important rules is, that they must not be too remote, but must be the natural and probable result of the defendant’s wrongful act.
- In pari delicto potior est conditio defendentis
“In case of equal fault the position of the defendant is the better.”
Where an immoral contract has been executed, and both parties are equally in fault, the maxim applies, and the contract will not be set aside. In divorce actions, a wife guilty herself of adultery is not entitled to a decree nisi for which she may petition as against an offending husband.
- Justitia nemini neganda est
“Justice is to be denied to no one.”
- Modus et conventio vincunt legem
“Custom and agreement overrule the law.” This is one of the leading principles relative to the law of contracts.
- Necessitas vincit legem
“Necessity defeats the law.”
- Nemo debet bispunari, pro uno delicto
“No one should be twice punished for the same offence.”
- Nemo est haeres viventis
“No man is heir of a living person.”
There may be either an heir apparent, as the eldest son, or an heir presumptive, as an only daughter. The question of actual heirship arises only on the death of the owner. No inheritance can vest, and no one can be a complete heir until the ancestor is dead.
- Nemo tenetur seipsum prodere
“No one is bound to betray himself; i.e., cannot be compelled to criminate himself. A well recognised rule of evidence in all cases.”
- Omnia praesumuntur rite et solenniter esse acta, donee probetur in contrarium
“All things are presumed to have been rightly and properly performed, until the contrary is proved.”
- Pendente lite nihil innovetur
“During litigation nothing should be changed” ; “Whilst a lawsuit is pending nothing must be altered.”
This principle or effect is limited to the rights of parties in that particular suit.
- Pluris est occulatus testis usus quam auriti decern
“One eye-witness is worth more than ten hearsay.” Hearsay or second-hand evidence is generally inadmissible except in certain cases, such as questions of custom or pedigree.
- Quando aliquid mandatur, mandatur et omne per quod pervenitur ad illud
“When anything is ordered to be done, everything by which it is to be accomplished is also impliedly authorised.”
- Quando lex aliquid alicui concedit, concedere videtur et id sine quo res ipsa esse non potest
“When the law gives a man anything it gives him that also without which the thing itself cannot exist.”
- Qui facit per alium facit per se
” He who acts through another acts through himself.”
A contract made by an agent is looked upon in law as the contract of the principal, so agents need not be ” sui juris” and infants, married women, and others are competent to act as such. The agent must, however, act within the scope of his authority.
- Qui non improtaat, approtaat
“He who does not blame, approves.”
- Qui prior est tempore potior est jure
“He who \u00a0is first in point of time is preferred in law.”
- Qui tacet consentire videtur
“He who is silent appears to consent.”
- Res nulis
- Ubi jus ibi remedium est
“Where there is a right there is a remedy.”