Legal Maxim

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Literal Meaning

The law does not concern itself with trifles


It is the short form of a Latin word ‘De minimis’ meaning ‘about minimal things’


It is a common law principle whereby the court will not sit in judgment of extremely minor transgressions of the law. In general, the maxim refers that the courts will not intervene in disputes where the substance of the controversy is insignificant. Its application sometimes leads to an action being dismissed, especially when the only redress being sought is for a nominal sum, such as a dollar.

The law does not encourage parties to bring legal action where the impact of the breach is negligible for technical breaches of rules or agreements. In other words, such exceptions are commonly included in contracts to limit the use of covenants or other restrictions so that they do not apply in circumstances where the failure to comply with the restriction has negligible impact.

The maxim is recognized under Section 95 of Indian Penal Code.


A promises B that he will accompany him to the movie on Saturday. Believing it, B books the tickets worth 150/- each. However, on Saturday A canceled his plan to the movie as he had to attend a class. This resulted in B to cancel the tickets at the end moment as a result of which he did not get a refund. Angry with this B filed a suit against A. In such cases, where the matter in issue is negligible or extremely minor, the court will not entertain the suit and dismiss it accordingly.

Case Laws

In Bathula Krishna Brahmam vs. Gudipudi Shaik Meera Hassain, the Andhra Pradesh High Court held that the delay cannot be excused either on the ground that the mistake was not that of the payer but of the clerk who received the lodgment schedule who should have pointed out the error or that the small deficiency which led to the delay should be excused on the principle of ‘de minimis non curate lex’ or again on the ground that the amount paid towards poundage could have been appropriated towards the deficiency.

In S.Ramesh vs State Through The Inspector Of police, the Madras High Court held that “Section 95 IPC has its itself foundation on the maxim de minimis non curat lex (The Law takes no account of trifles). This section is intended to prevent the penalization of negligible wrongs or of an offense of trivial character. Whether the act, which amounts to an offense, is trivial would undoubtedly depend upon the nature of the injury, the position of the parties, the knowledge or intention, with which an offending act is done and other related circumstances. Under this provision, those cases even though fall within the letter of the penal law are yet not within its spirit, and or all over the world considered by the public, as innocent. In other words, the harm that results out of an offense, if is so slight and trivial that no person of ordinary sense and temper would complain of such harm.”

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