Legal Maxims

Legis Actiones

Legis Actiones

Literal Meaning Lawsuits Origin Latin term; in Roman law - Legal or lawful action; actions of or at law Explanation The legis actiones is the oldest known form of civil procedure in the history of Roman law. The peculiar aspect of a trial in an action under the legis...

Res Integra

Res Integra

Literal Meaning An entire thing; an entirely new or untouched matter Origin Latin Explanation The term res integra is applied to those points of the law which have not been decided, which are untouched by dictum or decision. It is a point not covered by the authority...

Caveat Emptor

Caveat Emptor

Literal Meaning Let the buyer beware Origin Latin Explanation Caveat Emptor is a principle of contract law, that place the onus on the buyer to perform due diligence before making a purchase. In general, it is the principle that often places the burden to reasonably...

Mandamus

Mandamus

Literal Meaning We command/ we mandate Origin The writ of mandamus was first used by English courts in the early seventeenth century. It has been originated from the ‘Latin’ language. Explanation Article 32 and 226 of the Indian Constitution gives power to the Supreme...

In Rem

In Rem

Literal Meaning Against a thing Origin Latin Explanation In rem is a legal term defining the authority, a court can exercise over the property (either actual or personal) or a "status" against an individual over whom the court has no jurisdiction in personam. The...

In Personam

In Personam

Literal Meaning Against a particular person Origin Latin Explanation A proceeding in personam is a case demanding a judgment which is clearly enforceable against an individual. An action in personam can impact the rights and interests of the defendant. In a lawsuit...

Locus Standi

Locus Standi

Literal Meaning The right to appear and be heard before a court Origin Latin Explanation The maxim refers to the right of a party to appear and be heard before a court of law or to institute a suit or an action before the court. For instance, an individual cannot...

Abundans Cautela Non Nocet

Abundans Cautela Non Nocet

Literal Meaning Abundant or extreme caution does no harm. Origin Latin Explanation The theory is usually applied to the creation of instruments in which superfluous terms are added to convey the purpose more explicitly. In general terms, the maxim refers that a great...

Ipse Dixit

Ipse Dixit

Literal Meaning He said it, himself. Origin Latin Explanation The principle applies to an appeal to authority, with the authority being itself. It is a statement that while unfounded and unproven, it may bear some weight depending solely on the authority or status of...

Qui Peccat Ebrius Luat Sobrius

Qui Peccat Ebrius Luat Sobrius

Literal Meaning He who does wrong when drunk must be punished when sober. Origin The maxim is originated from Latin language. Explanation This maxim has wider ambit than just being drunk on alcohol. There could be any type of Intoxication. However, for an act to be...

Ignorantia Juris Non Excusat

Ignorantia Juris Non Excusat

Literal Meaning Ignorance of law cannot be an excuse. Origin It is quite often said ‘ignorance of law is not an excuse’. As already stated above, it is based on the Latin Maxim “ignorantia legis neminem excusat” or “ignorantia juris, quod quisque, saire tenetur...

Void ab initio

Void ab initio

Literal Meaning Void/not valid from the beginning Origin Latin Explanation According to the maxim, proposition in law within a court’s jurisdiction, a certain document which purports to affect legal rights is or was null and void from its beginning, because of some...

Lex Non A Rege Est Violanda – Legal Maxim

Lex Non A Rege Est Violanda – Legal Maxim

Literal Meaning The Law must not be violated even by the King. Origin Latin Explanation The maxim lex non a rege est violanda says that every individual should have equal rights and that every presumption on the part of every party should be taken into consideration,...

Onus Probandi

Onus Probandi

Literal Meaning Burden of proof Origin Latin Explanation Onus Probandi is a general rule that a party who alleges the affirmative of any proposition shall prove it. The onus probandi lies upon the party who seeks to support his case by a particular fact of which he is...

Certiorari

Certiorari

Literal Meaning To be more fully informed/ to be made certain in regard to. Origin Latin Explanation A writ of Certiorari is a decision of the Supreme Court to call up/ hear an appeal from an inferior court. It is a writ, issued by a higher or appellate court to...

Per Incuriam

Per Incuriam

Literal Meaning Through lack of care Origin Latin Explanation Per incuriam is a decision of the court which is mistaken. The one which ignores a contradictory statute or binding authority, and is therefore wrongly decided and of no force. A judgment that is found to...

Nullus Commodum Capere Potest De Injuria Sua Propria

Nullus Commodum Capere Potest De Injuria Sua Propria

Literal Meaning No one can derive an advantage from his own wrong. Origin Latin Explanation The above maxim is derived from the general principle of good faith. It means that one party may not avail itself of the fact that the other party has not fulfilled a...

Res Judicata

Res Judicata

Literal Meaning A matter judged Origin Latin Explanation Section 11 of the Civil Procedure Code defines the doctrine of Res Judicata is the matter which has already been judged. It means that no court will have the power to try any fresh suit or issues which have been...

Habeas Corpus

Habeas Corpus

Literal Meaning Produce the body Origin Latin Explanation The writ of Habeas Corpus is issued by a court or judge directing one (a public official) who holds an imprisoned person in custody, to produce the person before the court for some specified purpose. The...

Ex Nudo Pacto Actio Non Oritur

Ex Nudo Pacto Actio Non Oritur

Literal Meaning A contract without consideration is void. Origin Latin Explanation The general meaning of the above maxim is that no right of action arises from a contract entered into without consideration. It is one of the most essential elements for the formation...

Quo Warranto

Quo Warranto

Literal Meaning By what warrant (or authority)? Origin Latin Explanation Quo warranto is a writ or a legal action requiring a person to show by what warrant an office or franchise is held, claimed, or by demanding to know by what authority or right it is doing what it...

Mens Rea

Mens Rea

Literal Meaning Guilty mind Origin Latin Explanation Every crime involves two parts: The physical act of the crime which is actus reus i.e. a guilty act. The mental intent to do the crime which is mens rea i.e. a guilty mind. Mens Rea refers to criminal intent or a...

Actus Reus

Actus Reus

Literal Meaning Guilty act Origin Latin Explanation Every crime involves two parts: The physical act of the crime which is actus reus i.e. a guilty act.The mental intent to do the crime which is mens rea i.e. a guilty mind. To establish actus reus, a lawyer must prove...

Nemo Dat Quod Non-Habet

Nemo Dat Quod Non-Habet

Literal Meaning No one gives what he doesn't have. Origin Latin Explanation The maxim is a legal rule and a ground principle regarding the transfer of title. It refers to the question of whether someone purporting to give or sell a property has legal title or right to...

Mala In Se

Mala In Se

Literal Meaning Wrong or evil in itself Origin Latin Explanation The term Mala In Se refers to criminal acts that are wrong because they violate the moral, public, or natural principles of a society. These are the actions that are considered to be wrong because of...

Quid Pro Quo

Quid Pro Quo

Literal Meaning Something for something Origin Latin Explanation In general sense, the meaning of Quid Pro Quo is a consideration, i.e. something in return for something or something in exchange for something. Such consideration makes both the parties to the...

Corpus Delicti

Corpus Delicti

Literal Meaning Body of the crime Origin Latin Explanation The maxim corpus delicti refers that a person cannot be put on trial for a crime, unless it has been proven that the crime happened. In simple terms, the prosecution has to demonstrate that something bad...

Amicus Curiae

Amicus Curiae

Literal Meaning Friend of the Court Origin Latin Explanation Amicus Curiae is a friend of the court which involves either a person or an organization who/which is not a party to the proceedings, but is permitted by the court to set out legal arguments or to furnish...

Bona Vacantia

Bona Vacantia

Literal Meaning Ownerless assets Origin Latin Explanation It is a situation in which property is left without any owner. In most cases, such property is held by the government and may be recovered by rightful owners or heirs. Bona vacantia property, which remains...

Actori Incumbit Onus Probandi

Actori Incumbit Onus Probandi

Literal Meaning The burden of proof is on the plaintiff. Origin Latin Explanation As per this maxim, a plaintiff to a legal action must prove his or her case to win the lawsuit against the defendant. The plaintiff is obliged to submit to the court all the proofs and...

Injuria Sine Damnum

Injuria Sine Damnum

Literal Meaning Injury without damage or infringement of an absolute private right without any actual loss or damage. Origin Latin Explanation According to this maxim, whenever there is an invasion of a legal right, the person in whom the right is vested is entitled...

Quantum Meruit

Quantum Meruit

Literal Meaning As much as is deserved. Origin Latin Explanation The maxim implicates to the doctrine that permits recovery by a party for services provided, despite the absence of an express contract but were accepted and used by the defendant under circumstances,...

Uberrimae Fidei

Uberrimae Fidei

Literal Meaning Utmost good faith Origin Latin Explanation The maxim refers to a contract of legal agreement, requiring the highest standard of good faith during disclosure of all material facts that could influence the decision of the other party. A failure to adhere...

Actionable Per Se

Actionable Per Se

Literal Meaning The very action is punishable, no proof of damage is required. Origin Australian Law Explanation Actions that do not require the allegations or proof of additional facts to constitute a cause of action. Such a tort is actionable simply because it...

Exceptio Probat Regulam

Exceptio Probat Regulam

Literal Meaning The exception proves the rule. Origin Latin Explanation The maxim, Exceptio Probat Regulam is often used to justify something that seems to contradict a rule. It means that if there is an exception that can be applied to a specific case, it proves that...

Actio Personalis Moritur Cum Persona

Actio Personalis Moritur Cum Persona

Literal Meaning A personal right of action dies with the person. Origin Latin Explanation According to the maxim, actions of tort or contract are destroyed by the death of either the injured or the injuring party. Some legal causes of action can no longer be brought...

Sic Utera Tuo Ut Alienam Non-Laedas

Sic Utera Tuo Ut Alienam Non-Laedas

Literal Meaning Use your own property in such a manner as not to injure that of another. Origin Latin Explanation The maxim ‘sic utere tuo ut alienum non laedas’ means that one must use his property so as not to injure the lawful rights of another. It is a...

Executio Juris Non Habet Injuriam

Executio Juris Non Habet Injuriam

Literal Meaning The execution of the law does no injury. Origin Latin Explanation The meaning of the maxim ‘executio juris non habet injuriam’ is that the execution of the law causes no injury. It means, if an action is brought in a court which has jurisdiction on...

Locus Regit Actum

Locus Regit Actum

Literal Meaning The place governs the act. Origin Latin Explanation It is considered to be a maxim for resolving the conflicts of law. The meaning of the maxim is that the place where a contract is entered into governs the manner in which it shall be formally...

Falsus In Uno, Falsus In Omnibus

Falsus In Uno, Falsus In Omnibus

Literal Meaning False in one thing, false in everything. Origin Latin Explanation It is a general presumption of common law, that if certain facts out of a narrative are false, then the entire narrative is also false. However, the Supreme Court bench comprising of...

Delegatus Non-Potest Delegare

Delegatus Non-Potest Delegare

Literal Meaning One to whom a power is delegated, cannot himself further delegate that power. Origin Latin Explanation The maxim is a principle in the constitutional and administrative law which means that a person to whom an authority or decision-making power has...

A Verbis Legis Non-Est Recedendum

A Verbis Legis Non-Est Recedendum

Literal Meaning From the words of the law, there must be no departure. Origin Latin Explanation The object of the maxim depends on the interpretation of statutes which is determine the intention of the legislature conveyed expressly or impliedly in the language used....

Domus Sua Cuique Est Tutissimum Refugium

Domus Sua Cuique Est Tutissimum Refugium

Literal Meaning Every man’s house is his refuge. Origin Latin Explanation According to this maxim, everyone’s house is to him/her a castle and fortress as well as a defense against injury and violence, as for his repose. In simple terms, the law recognizes the...

Quod Per Me Non-Possum, Nec Per Alium

Quod Per Me Non-Possum, Nec Per Alium

Literal Meaning What I cannot do through myself, I cannot do through another. Origin Latin Explanation According to this maxim, one cannot ask anyone else to do something for which he himself does not possess the right to do that thing. If an impermissible act is...

Subpoena Duces Tecum

Subpoena Duces Tecum

Literal Meaning You shall bring with you. Origin Latin Explanation It is a writ commanding a person to produce in court certain designated documents or evidence. It is generally called a subpoena duces tecum, which the court commands a person to whom it is directed to...

Ratio Decidendi

Ratio Decidendi

Literal Meaning The rationale for the decision / the reason. Origin Latin Explanation The maxim refers to the principle of law on which the court decides the matter. In general, ratio decidendi is the statement of law applied to the material facts. It is that point in...

Cognovit Actionem

Cognovit Actionem

Literal Meaning He has confessed the action Origin Latin Explanation The maxim confers to a defendant’s written confession for an action brought against him, to which he has no available defense. The confession is usually based upon designated conditions, given in...

Obiter Dictum

Obiter Dictum

Literal Meaning By the way Origin Latin Explanation The maxim refers to a passage in a judicial opinion which is not necessary for the decision of a case before the court. Such statements lack the force of precedent but may nevertheless be significant. In general...

Ex Dolo Malo Non Oritur Actio

Ex Dolo Malo Non Oritur Actio

Literal Meaning A right of action cannot arise out of fraud. Origin Latin Explanation The maxim is a general rule of public policy, which describes that the courts will not sustain an action which arises out of the moral turpitude or by the violation of general law,...

Res Judicata Pro Veritate Accipitur

Res Judicata Pro Veritate Accipitur

Literal Meaning A point judicially decided is taken to be correct Origin Latin Explanation According to this maxim, a suit/dispute in which the matter directly or substantially in the issue has been directly/ substantially in issue in a former suit between the same...

Ubi Jus Ibi Remedium

Ubi Jus Ibi Remedium

Literal Meaning Where there is a wrong, there is a remedy. Origin Latin Explanation The maxim states that if any wrong has been committed, the law provides a remedy. In simple terms, the law specifies a remedy for every wrong. It shall also be described as the...

Nemo Debet Esse Judex In Sua Propria Causa

Nemo Debet Esse Judex In Sua Propria Causa

Literal Meaning No one ought to be a judge in his or her own cause. Origin Latin Explanation It is the principle of Natural Justice. According to this maxim, the authority giving decision must be composed of impartial persons and should act fairly, without prejudice...

Res Ipsa Loquitur

Res Ipsa Loquitur

Literal Meaning The thing speaks for itself. Origin Latin Explanation The concept of res ipsa loquitur allows the plaintiff to establish a presumption of negligence on the part of the defendant through the use of circumstantial evidence. According to this maxim, the...

Nudum Pactum

Nudum Pactum

Literal meaning A naked agreement Origin Latin Explanation The maxim denotes an agreement made without any consideration. As per law, for a contract to be valid it must show a mutual intent to contract including an offer, an acceptance, and a consideration. Thus, one...

Volenti Non-Fit Injuria

Volenti Non-Fit Injuria

Literal Meaning To A Willing Person, No Injury Is Done Origin Latin Explanation It is one of the major defenses in the Law of Torts. As per this maxim, the person who himself voluntarily waived or abandoned his right cannot have any claim over it. It is a common law...

Lex Prospicit Non Respicit

Lex Prospicit Non Respicit

Literal Meaning The Law looks forward, not backward. Origin Latin Explanation An established rule of interpretation of legislation is that unless a contrary intention appears, it is presumed not to be intended to have a retrospective operation. The idea behind this is...

Qui Facit Per Alium Facit Per Se

Qui Facit Per Alium Facit Per Se

Literal Meaning He who acts through another does the act himself. Origin Latin Explanation The above maxim is similar in the sense of the Latin maxim - Respondeat Superior, which is a traditional basis of vicarious liability. It means, that an employer is liable for...

Respondeat Superior

Respondeat Superior

Literal Meaning Let the Master Answer Origin Latin Explanation The above legal doctrine holds an employer or the principal legally responsible/ liable for the wrongful acts of an employee or agent when it occurs within the scope of the employment or agency. It is...

Mala Grammatica Non Vitiat Chartam

Mala Grammatica Non Vitiat Chartam

Literal Meaning Bad grammar does not vitiate a deed. Origin Latin Explanation This legal maxim denotes that a will cannot be invalidated merely based on bad grammar. This maxim is further continued with another maxim ‘Sed in expositione instrumentorem mala grammatica...

Qui Tacet Consentire Videtur

Qui Tacet Consentire Videtur

Literal Meaning Silence equals consent. Origin Latin Explanation One who remains silent is considered to approve. According to this maxim, we are considered to be consenting to trespass against us, if we say nothing or do nothing. Illustration A and B are siblings. A...

Nemo contra factum suum venire potest

Nemo contra factum suum venire potest

Literal Meaning No one can go against his own act Origin Latin Explanation When a person has performed an act, it is binding on him and he/she cannot depart from that act or do anything contrary to it. No one can intervene in his/her own deed. The principle of...

Leges Posteriores Priores Abrogant

Leges Posteriores Priores Abrogant

Literal Meaning Subsequent laws repeal prior conflicting ones Origin Latin Explanation This is also referred to as the doctrine of implied repeal which is a concept in the constitution where an act of Parliament conflicts with an earlier one, the later Act takes...

Ex Turpi Causa Non Oritur Actio

Ex Turpi Causa Non Oritur Actio

Literal Meaning No action arises from an immoral cause or base consideration. Origin Latin Explanation A person is not allowed to claim damages from the defendant if the plaintiff himself is involved or has committed an illegal act. The legal maxim Ex Turpi Causa Non...

Accusare Nemo Se Debet, Nisi Coram Deo

Accusare Nemo Se Debet, Nisi Coram Deo

Literal Meaning No man is obliged to accuse himself except before God. Origin Latin Explanation This legal maxim denotes that any accused person is entitled to make a plea of not guilty, and also that a witness is not obliged to give a response or submit a document...

Actus Dei Nemini Facit Injuriam

Actus Dei Nemini Facit Injuriam

Literal Meaning An act of God causes legal injury to no one. Origin Latin Explanation When an event is caused by the effect of nature without any human intervention, it is called ‘an act of God.’ No one is responsible for the inevitable accidents. The act of God...

Actus Non Facit Reum, Nisi Mens Sit Rea

Actus Non Facit Reum, Nisi Mens Sit Rea

Literal Meaning An act does not make one guilty unless there is a criminal intent. Origin Latin Explanation According to this maxim, to be guilty of a crime under criminal law, two elements are considered which include a guilty act and a guilty state of mind. Without...

Audi Alteram Partem

Audi Alteram Partem

Literal Meaning Hear the other side or both the sides must be heard before passing any order. Origin Latin Explanation This doctrine gives a right that one shall not be condemned of anything without being heard. It is based on the principles of natural justice and...