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De jure (in Classical Latin de iure) is an expression that means "concerning law", as contrasted with de facto, which means "concerning fact". The terms de jure and de facto are used instead of "in law" and "in practice", respectively, when one is describing political or legal situations.
In a legal context, de jure is also translated as "concerning law". A practice may exist de facto, where, for example, the people obey a contract as though there were a law enforcing it, yet there is no such law. A process known as "desuetude" may allow de facto practices to replace obsolete de jure laws. On the other hand, practices may exist de jure and not be obeyed or observed by the people.
It is, in fact, possible to have multiple simultaneous de jure legalities that are not de facto. Between 1805 and 1914, the ruling dynasty of Egypt ruled as de jure viceroys of the Ottoman Empire, but acted as de facto independent rulers who maintained a polite fiction of Ottoman suzerainty. However, from about 1882, the rulers had only de jure rule over Egypt, as it had by then become a British puppet state. Thus, Egypt was by Ottoman law de jure a province of the Ottoman Empire, but de facto was part of the British Empire.
In American law, particularly after Brown v. Board of Education (1954), the difference between de facto segregation (segregation that existed because of the voluntary associations and neighborhoods) and de jure segregation (segregation that existed because of local laws that mandated the segregation), became important distinctions for court-mandated remedial purposes.
In Canada, more specifically (and in higher concentration) British Columbia, the illegality of cannabis is considered de jure, whereas the widespread use, in striking similarity to the American liquor prohibition and speakeasies of the 1930s, is an example of de facto civil disobedience.
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