LEGAL MAXIMS

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

A

Term or phrase Literal translation
a fortiori from stronger
a mensa et thoro from table and bed
a posteriori from later
a priori from earlier
a quo from which
ab extra from outside
ab initio from the beginning
absque hoc without this
Actori incumbit probatio On the plaintiff rests the proving
Actus reus guilty act
ad coelum to the sky
ad colligenda bona to collect the goods
ad hoc for this
ad hominem at the person
ad idem to the same thing
ad infinitum to infinity
ad litem for the case
ad quod damnum according to the harm
ad valorem according to value
adjournment sine die adjournment without a day
affidavit he has sworn
alter ego another I
amicus curiae friend of the court
animus nocendi intention to harm
animus possidendi intention to possess
animus revertendi intention to return
ante before
arguendo for the sake of argument
Audi alteram partem hear the other side

B

Term or phrase Literal translation
bona fide in good faith.
bona vacantia ownerless goods

C

Term or phrase Literal translation
Cadit quaestio The question falls
Casus belli Case of war
casus fortuitus fortuitous event
Caveat May he beware
Caveat emptor Let the buyer beware
Certiorari To be apprised
Ceteris paribus With other things the same
Cogitationis poenam nemo patitur Nobody suffers punishment for mere intent
Compensation morae Balance of delay
compos mentis Having command of mind
Condicio sine qua non A condition without which it could not be
consensus ad idem Agreement to the same
consensus facit legem Consensus makes the law
consuetudo pro legeservatur Custom is held as law
contra Against
contra bonos mores Against good morals
contra legem Against the law
Contradictio in adjecto Contradiction in itself
contra proferentem Against the one bringing forth
coram non judice Before one who is not a judge
corpus delicti Body of the crime
corpus juris Body of law
corpus juris civilis Body of civil law
corpus juris gentium Body of the law of nations
corpus juris secundum Second body of the law
Crimen falsi Crime of falsifying
cui bono As a benefit to whom?
Cui usestsolum eius est usque ad coelum et ad inferos For whoever owns the soil, it is theirs up to Heaven and down to Hell

D

Term or phrase Literal translation
de bonis asportatis Carrying goods away
debellatio Warring down
de bonis non administratis Of goods not administered
de die in diem From day to day
de facto In fact
de futuro Concerning the future
de integro Concerning the whole
de jure According to law
de lege ferenda Of the law as it should be
de lege lata Of the law as it is
delegatus non potest delegare That which has been delegated, cannot delegate [further]
de minimis About the smallest things
de minimis non curat lex The law does not concern itself with the smallest [things]
de mortuis nil nisi bonum Of the dead, [speak] nothing unless good
de novo Anew
defalcation Cutting off with a sickle
deoruminjuriaediiscurae The gods take care of injuries to the gods
dictum (thing) said
Doli incapax Incapable of guilt
Dolus specialis Specific deceit
donatio mortis causa Gift caused by death
dramatis personae Persons of the drama
dubia in meliorem partem interpretari debent Doubtful things should be interpreted in the best way
Duces tecum Bring with you

E

Term or phrase Literal translation
Ei incumbit probatio qui dicit Proof lies on him who asserts.
ejusdem generis Of the same class.
eo nomine By that name.
Erga omnes Towards all.
ergo Therefore
erratum Having been made in error.
et al. And others
et cetera And other things.
et seq. And the following things
et uxor And wife.
et vir And husband.
ex aequo et bono Of equity and [the] good.
ex ante Of before.
ex cathedra From the chair
ex concessis From what has been conceded already
ex delicto From a transgression
ex facie On the face
ex fida bona Good business norms
ex gratia By favor
ex injuria jus non oritur Law does not arise from injustice
ex officio From the office
ex parte From [for] one party
ex post From after
ex post facto From a thing done afterward
Expressio unius est exclusion alterius The express mention of one thing excludes all others
ex proprio motu By [one’s] own motion
ex rel [arising] out of the narration [of the relator]
ex turpi causa non oritur actio From a dishonorable cause an action does not arise
exempli gratia For the sake of example
ex tunc From then
ex nunc From now on
extant Existing

F

Term or phrase Literal translation
factum Deed
facioutfacias I do, that you may do
Favor contractus Favor of the contract
felo de se Felon of himself
Ferae naturae Wild animals of nature
fiat Let it be done
Fiat justitia et pereat mundus Let there be justice, though the world perish.
fiat justitia ruat caelum Let justice be done though the heavens fall.
Fiery facias May you cause to be done
strong attachment, the stronger presumption
forum non conveniens Disagreeable forum
Fructus industriales vegetation,like crops, that grows by human efforts
Fumus boni iuris Smoke of a good right
functus officio Having performed his office

G

Term or phrase Literal translation
Generalia specialibus non derogant The general does not detract from the specific.
gravamen Things weighing down
guardian ad litem Guardian for the case.

H

Term or phrase Literal translation
habeas corpus May you have the body
Hostis humani generis Enemy of the human race

I

Term or phrase Literal translation
i.e. That is
ibid. In the same place
idem The same
ignorantia juris non excusat Ignorance of the law does not excuse
imprimatur Let it be printed.
in absentia In absence
In articulo mortis at the moment of death
in camera In the chamber
in curia In court
in esse In existence
in extenso In the extended
in extremis In the extreme
in flagrante delicto In blazing offense
in forma pauperis In the manner of a pauper
in futuro In the future
in haec verba In these words
in limine At the threshold
in loco parentis In the place of a parent
in mitius In the milder
in omnibus In all
in pari delicto In equal offense
in pari materia In the same matter
in personam In person
in pleno In full
in prope persona On one's own person
in propria persona In one's own proper person
in re In the matter [of]
in rem About a thing
in situ In position
in solidum For the whole
in terrorem In order to frighten
in terrorem clause Clause in order to frighten
in toto In total
indicia Indications
infra Below or Under
innuendo By nodding
inter alia Among others
inter arma enim silent leges For among arms, the laws fall silent
inter rusticos Among rustics
inter se Amongst themselves
inter vivos Between the living
intra Within
intra fauces terra Within the jaws of the land
intra legem Within the law
intra vires Within the powers
ipse dixit He himself said it
Ipsissima verba The very words
ipso facto By the fact itself

J

Term or phrase Literal translation
iudex non calculat The judge does not calculate
juranovit curia The court knows the law
jurat (He) swears
juris et de jure Of law, and from law
jus Law, right
jus accrescendi Right of survivorship
jus ad bellum Laws to war
jus civile Civil law
jus cogens Compelling law
jus commune Common law
jus gentium Law of nations
jus in bello Law in war
jus inter gentes Law between the peoples
jus naturale Natural law
jus primae noctis Right of the first night
jus sanguinis Right of blood
jus soli Right of soil
jus tertii Law of the third

L

Term or phrase Literal translation
lacunae Void, gap
Leges humanae nascuntur, vivunt, et moriuntur The laws of man are born, live, and die
Lex communis Common law.
Lex lata The law borne
lex loci The law of the place
lex posterior derogat priori Later law removes the earlier
lex retro non agit The law does not operate retroactively
Lex scripta Written law
Lex specialis derogate legi generali Specific law takes away from the general law
liberum veto Free veto
lingua franca The Frankish language
lis alibi pendens Lawsuit elsewhere pending
Lis pendens Suit pending
locus Place
locus delicti Place of the crime
locus in quo The place in which
locus poenitentiae Place of repentance
locus standi Place of standing

M

Term or phrase Literal translation
mala fide (In) bad faith
Maleficia propositis distinguuntur evil acts are distinguished from (evil) purposes/crimes are distinguished by evil intent
malum in se Wrong in itself
Malum prohibitum Prohibited wrong
mandamus We command
mare clausum Closed sea
mare liberum Open sea
mens rea Guilty mind
modus operandi Manner of operation
Mora accipiendi Delay of creditor
Mora solvendi delay of debtor
mortis causa Caused by death
mos pro lege Custom for law
motion in limine Motion at the start
mutatis mutandis Having changed [the things that] needed to be changed

N

Term or phrase Literal translation
ne exeat Let him not exit [the republic]
ne bis in idem Not twice in the same
Negotorium gestio management of estate
Nemo auditor propriam turpitudinem allegans no one can be heard, who invokes his own guilt
Nemo dat quod non habet no one gives what he does not have
Nemo judex in sua causa no one shall be a judge in his own case
nemojudex in suacausa no one shall be a judge in his own case
nemo plus iuris ad alium transferre potest quam ipse habet no one can transfer a greater right than he himself has
Nihil dicit he says nothing
nisi unless
nisi prius unless first
nolleprosequi Not to prosecute
nolo contendere I do not wish to dispute
non adimpleti contractus Of a non-completed contract
non compos mentis not in possession of [ones] mind
non constat it is not certain
non est factum It is not [my] deed
non estinventus He is not found
non faciat malum, ut inde veniat bonum not to do evil that good may come
non liquet it is not clear
non obstante verdicto notwithstanding the verdict
Novus actus interveniens a new action coming between
noscitur a sociis it is known by friends
nota bene note well
Nudum pactum naked promise
nulla bona no goods
Nulla poena sine lege no penalty without a law
Nullum crimen, nulla poena sine praevia lege poenali no crime, no punishment without a previous penal law
nunc pro tunc now for then

O

Term or phrase Literal translation
obiter dictum a thing said in passing

P

Term or phrase Literal translation
Pacta sunt servanda agreements must be kept
par delictum equal fault
Parens patriae parent of the nation
pater familias father of the family
Pendent lite while the litigation is pending
per capita by head
per contra by that against
per curiam through the court
per incuriam by their neglect
per minas through threats
per quod by which
per se by itself
per stirpes by branch
periculum in mora danger in delay
persona non grata unwelcome person
posse comitatus power of the county
post mortem after death
post mortem auctoris after the authors death
praetor peregrinus magistrate of foreigners
prima facie at first face
prior tempore potior iure earlier in time, stronger in law
prius quam exaudias ne iudices before you hear, do not judge
Probation vincit praesumptio em proof overcomes presumption
pro bono For good
pro bono publico For the public good
pro forma as a matter of form
pro hac vice for this turn
pro per Abbreviation of propria persona, meaning ones own person
pro rata from the rate
pro se for himself
pro tanto for so much
pro tem Abbreviation of pro tempore, meaning for the time being
pro tempore for the time being
propria persona proper person
Prout patet per recordum as appears in the record

Q

Term or phrase Literal translation
qua which; as
quareitur it is sought
quaere query
quantum how much
quantum meruit as much as it deserves; as much as she or he has earned[3]
quantum valebant as much as they were worth
quasi as if
qui facit per alium facit per se who acts through another, acts himself
qui tam Abbreviation of qui tam pro domino rege quam pro se ipso in hac parte sequitur, meaning who pursues in this action as much for the king as himself.
quid pro quo this for that
quo ante as before
quo warranto by what warrant?
quoad hoc as to this
quod est necessarium est What is necessary is lawful
licitum

R

Term or phrase Literal translation
R Rex or Regina
ratio decidendi Reason for the decision
ratio scripta written reason
rationae soli by reason of the soil
rebus sic stantibus things thus standing
Reddendo singulasingulis referring solely to the last
res thing, matter, issue, affair
res communis common to all
res gestae things done
res ipsa loquitur the thing speaks for itself
res judicata a matter judged
res nullius nobodys thing
res publica public affair
res publica christiana Christian public affair
respondeat superior let the master answer
restitutio in integrum total reinstatement
rex non potest peccare The king can do no wrong

S

Term or phrase Literal translation
Salus populi suprema lex esto The good of the people shall be the supreme law
Scandalum magnatum scandal of the magnates
scienter knowingly
Scire facias let them know
Scire feci I have made known
se defendendo self-defense
seriatim in series
sic utere tuo ut alienum non laedas use your property so as not to injure that of your neighbours
sine die without day
sine qua non without which, nothing
situs the place
Solutio indebiti Solution for undue
stare decisis To stand by [things] decided.
status quo the state in which
stratum a covering, from neuter past participle of sternere, to spread
Sua sponte of its own accord
sub judice under the judge
sub modo subject to modification
sub nomine under the name
sub silentio under silence
subpoena under penalty
subpoena ad testificandum Under penalty to be witnessed
subpoena duces tecum bring with you under penalty
Suggestion falsi false suggestion
sui generis of its own kind/genus
sui juris of his own right
Suo motu of its own motion
supersedeas refrain from
Suppression veri suppression of the truth
supra above

T

Term or phrase Literal translation
terra nullius no one’s land
trial de novo trial anew
Trinoda necessitas three-knotted need

U

Term or phrase Literal translation
uberrima fides most abundant faith
ultra posse nemo obligatur no one is obligated (to do) more than he can
ultra vires beyond the powers
uUno flatu in one breath
Uti possidetis as you possess
uxor wife

V

Term or phrase Literal translation
vel non or not
veto I forbid.
vice versa the other way around
vide see
videlicet Contraction of videre licet, meaning it is permitted to see
vinculum juris the chains of the law
vis major greater or superior force
viz. Abbreviation of videlicet
volenti non fit injuria injury is not done to the willing
vigilantibus non dormientibus aequitas subvenit Equity aids the vigilant, not the sleeping