List of Latin legal terms

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A number of Latin terms are used in legal terminology and legal maxims. This is a partial list of these terms, which are wholly or substantially drawn from Latin, or anglicized Law Latin.

Common law[edit]

Term or phrase Literal translation Definition and use English pron
a fortiori from stronger An a fortiori argument is an "argument from a stronger reason", meaning that, because one fact is true, a second (related and included) fact must also be true. /ˌ fɔːrtiˈr, ˌ fɔːrʃiˈr/
a mensa et thoro from table and bed Divorce a mensa et thoro indicates legal separation without legal divorce. /ˌ ˈmɛnsə ɛt ˈθr/
a posteriori from later An argument derived after an event, having the knowledge about the event. Inductive reasoning from observations and experiments. /ˌ ˌpɒstrir/
a priori from earlier An argument derived before an event, without needing to have the knowledge about the event. Deductive reasoning from general principles. /ˌ prr/
a quo from which Regarding a court below in an appeal, either a court of first instance or an appellate court, known as the court a quo. /ˌ ˈkw/
ab extra from outside Concerning a case, a person may have received some funding from a 3rd party. This funding may have been considered ab extra. /ˌæb ˈɛkstrə/
ab initio from the beginning "Commonly used referring to the time a contract, statute, marriage, or deed become legal. e.g. The couple was covered ab initio by her health policy."[1] /ˌæb ɪˈnɪʃi/
absque hoc without this "Presenting the negative portion of a plea when pleading at common by way a special traverse."[1] /ˌæbskw ˈhɒk/
Actio non datur non damnificato An action is not given to one who is not injured. The requirement that in most private legal actions, the person bringing the action must have been damaged in some way. [2]
Actus legis nemini facit injurium The act of law injures no one.
Actus non facit reum, nisi mens sit rea No act is punishable that is not the result of a guilty mind. The prosecution in a criminal case must prove beyond a reasonable doubt, not only a criminal act, but also a certain level of a guilty mind (mens rea), specified in the criminal statute. [3]
actus reus guilty act Part of what proves criminal liability (with mens rea). /ˌæktəs ˈrəs/
ad coelum to the sky Abbreviated from Cuius est solum eius est usque ad coelum et ad infernos which translates to "[for] whoever owns [the] soil, [it] is his all the way [up] to Heaven and [down] to Hell." The principle that the owner of a parcel of land also owns the air above and the ground below the parcel. /ˌæd ˈsləm/
ad colligenda bona to collect the goods In cases of a disputed will, delay may endanger the assets of the deceased. Therefore, a court can give a person a writ of ad colligenda bona, which entitles them to collect and preserve the goods while their rightful owner is determined. Afterwards, that person will release the goods to the rightful owner.[4] /ˌæd ˈkɒllɛndə ˈbnə/
ad hoc for this Generally signifies a solution designed for a specific problem or task, non-generalizable, and not intended to be able to be adapted to other purposes. /ˌæd ˈhɒk/
ad hominem at the person Attempting to make a point of logic by attacking an opponent's character rather than answering their argument. /ˌæd ˈhɒmɪnɛm/
ad idem to the same thing In agreement. /ˌæd ˈdəm/
ad infinitum to infinity To continue forever. /ˌæd ɪnfɪˈntəm/
ad litem for the case Describes those designated to represent parties deemed incapable of representing themselves, such as a child or incapacitated adult. /ˌæd ˈltɛm/
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 valorem according to value /ˌæd vəˈlrɛm/
adjournment sine die adjournment without a day When an assembly adjourns without setting a date for its next meeting. /ˌsni ˈdi/
affidavit he has sworn A formal statement of fact. /ˌæfɪˈdvɪt/
allocatur it is allowed Generally, a statement from a court that a writ is allowed (i.e. granted); most commonly, a grant of leave to appeal by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, in reference to which the word is used equivalently to certiorari (q.v.) elsewhere. /ˌællktʊr/
alter ego another I A second identity living within a person. /ˌɒltər ˈiɡ/
Alteri stipulari nemo potest No-one can alter on their own a contract
amicus curiae friend of the court A person who offers information to a court regarding a case before it. /əˈmkəs ˈkjrii/
animus contrahendi contractual intent Intention to contract. /ˈænɪməs kɑːnˈtrəhɛndi/
animus manendi intention to remain The subjective intent to remain indefinitely in a place so as to establish it as one's permanent residence.[5] Along with actual residence, this is used to establish domicile.[6] Also called animus remanendi. See diversity of citizenship.
animus nocendi intention to harm The subjective state of mind of the author of a crime, with reference to the exact knowledge of illegal content of their behaviour, and of its possible consequences.
animus possidendi intention to possess "In order to claim possessory rights, an individual must establish physical control of the res and the intention to possess (i.e. animus possidendi)"[7]
animus revertendi intention to return "Wild animals, such as bees and homing pigeons, that by habit go 'home' to their possessor. Used when discussing ferae naturae."[7]
animus testandi testamentary intent The intention, when writing a document, that the document should serve as a last will and testament.[8]
ante before “An antenuptial agreement is a contract between two people that is executed before marriage.”
(in) arguendo for the sake of argument
bona fide in good faith Implies sincere good intention regardless of outcome. /ˈbnə ˈfdi/
bona vacantia ownerless goods
cadit quaestio the question falls Indicates that a settlement to a dispute or issue has been reached, and the issue is now resolved.
casus belli case of war The justification for acts of war. /ˈksəs ˈbɛl/
caveat May he beware When used by itself, refers to a qualification, or warning.
caveat emptor Let the buyer beware In addition to the general warning, also refers to a legal doctrine wherein a buyer could not get relief from a seller for defects present on property which rendered it unfit for use. /ˈkæviæt ˈɛmptɔːr/
certiorari to be apprised A type of writ seeking judicial review. /ˌsɜːrʃiəˈrr, ˌsɜːrʃiəˈrri/
cessante ratione legis cessat ipsa lex when the reason for a law ceases, so does the law itself Herbert Broom′s text of 1858 on legal maxims lists the phrase under the heading ″Rules of logic″, stating: Reason is the soul of the law, and when the reason of any particular law ceases, so does the law itself.[9]
ceteris paribus with other things the same More commonly rendered in English as "All other things being equal." /ˌsɛtərɪs ˈpærɪbəs/
compos mentis having command of mind Of sound mind. Also used in the negative "Non compos mentis", meaning "Not of sound mind". /ˈkɒmpɒs ˈmɛntɪs/
condicio sine qua non A condition without which it could not be An indispensable and essential action, condition, or ingredient.
consensus ad idem agreement to the same Meeting of the minds, mutual assent, or concurrence of wills. Parties must be of one mind and their promises must relate to the same subject or object[10] Also consensus in idem.
contra against Used in case citations to indicate that the cited source directly contradicts the point being made.
contra legem against the law Used when a court or tribunal hands down a decision that is contrary to the laws of the governing state.
contradictio in adjecto contradiction in adjective A contradiction where adjective contradicts its noun (e.g., a square triangle).
contra proferentem against the one bringing forth Used in contract law to stipulate that an ambiguous term in a contract shall be interpreted against the interests of the party that insisted upon the term's inclusion. Prevents the intentional additions of ambiguous terminology from being exploited by the party who insisted on its inclusion.
coram non judice before one who is not a judge Refers to a legal proceeding without a judge, or with a judge who does not have proper jurisdiction.
corpus delicti body of the crime A person cannot be convicted of a crime, unless it can be proven that the crime was even committed. /ˈkɔːrpəs dɪˈlɪkt/
corpus juris body of law The complete collection of laws of a particular jurisdiction or court. /ˈkɔːrpəs ˈrɪs/
corpus juris civilis body of civil law The complete collection of civil laws of a particular jurisdiction or court. Also sometimes used to refer to the Code of Justinian. /ˈkɔːrpəs ˈrɪs sɪˈvlɪs/
corpus juris gentium body of the law of nations The complete collection of international law.
corpus juris secundum An encyclopedia of US law drawn from US Federal and State court decisions.
crimen falsi crime of falsifying Forgery.
cui bono as a benefit to whom? Suggests that the perpetrator(s) of a crime can often be found by investigating those who would have benefited financially from the crime, even if it is not immediately obvious.
curia advisari vult the court wishes to consider Signifies the intent of a court to consider the points of law argued during advocacy, prior to judgement.
de bonis asportatis carrying goods away Specifies that larceny was taking place in addition to any other crime named. E.g. "trespass de bonis asportatis".
debellatio warring down Complete annihilation of a warring party, bringing about the end of the conflict.
de bonis non administratis of goods not administered Assets of an estate remaining after the death (or removal) of the designated estate administrator. An "administrator de bonis non administratis" will then be appointed to dispose of these goods.
de die in diem from day to day Generally refers to a type of labor in which the worker is paid fully at the completion of each day's work.
de facto in fact Literally "from fact"; often used to mean something that is true in practice, but has not been officially instituted or endorsed. "For all intents and purposes". Cf. de jure.
de futuro concerning the future At a future date.
de integro concerning the whole Often used to mean "start it all over", in the context of "repeat de integro".
de jure according to law Literally "from law"; something that is established in law, whether or not it is true in general practice. Cf. de facto.
de lege ferenda of the law as it should be Used in the context of "how the law should be", such as for proposed legislation.
de lege lata of the law as it is Concerning the law as it exists, without consideration of how things should be.
de minimis about the smallest things Various legal areas concerning small amounts or small degrees.
de minimis non curat lex the law is not concerned with minimal things The rule that the law will not remedy an injury that is minimal.[11]
de novo anew Often used in the context of "trial de novo" – a new trial ordered when the previous one failed to reach a conclusion.
deorum injuriae diis curae The gods take care of injuries to the gods Blasphemy is a crime against the State, rather than against God.
dictum (thing) said A statement given some weight or consideration due to the respect given the person making it.
doli incapax incapable of guilt Presumption that young children or persons with diminished mental capacity cannot form the intent to commit a crime.
dolus bonus Justinian Digest
dolus malus Justinian Digest
dolus specialis Specific deceit Heavily used in the context of genocide in international law.
domitae naturae tame by nature Tame or domesticated animal. Also called mansuetae naturae. Opposite of ferae naturae (below)
donatio mortis causa deathbed gift Gift causa mortis; "The donor, contemplating imminent death, declares words of present gifting and delivers the gift to the donee or someone who clearly takes possession on behalf of the donee. The gift becomes effective at death but remains revocable until that time."[7]
dramatis personae persons of the drama
duces tecum bring with you A "subpoena duces tecum" is a summons to produce physical evidence for a trial.
ejusdem generis of the same class Known as a "canon of construction", it states that when a limited list of specific things also includes a more general class, that the scope of that more general class shall be limited to other items more like the specific items in the list.
eo nomine by that name
erga omnes towards all Refers to rights or obligations that are owed towards all.
ergo therefore
erratum having been made in error
et al. and others Abbreviation of et alii, meaning "and others".
et cetera and other things Generally used in the sense of "and so forth".
et seq. and the following things Abbreviation of et sequens, meaning "and the following ones". Used in citations to indicate that the cited portion extends to the pages following the cited page.
et uxor and wife Usually used instead of naming a man's wife as a party in a case. /ˌɛt ˈʌksɔːr/
et vir and husband Usually used instead of naming a woman's husband as a party in a case. /ˌɛt ˈvɜːr/
ex aequo et bono of equity and [the] good Usually defined as "what is right and good." Used to describe the power of a judge or arbiter to consider only what is fair and good for the specific case, and not necessarily what the law may require. In courts, usually only done if all parties agree.
ex ante of before Essentially meaning "before the event", usually used when forecasting future events. /ˌɛks ˈænti/
ex cathedra from the chair Where chair refers to authority or position. Authority derived from one's position.
ex concessis from what has been conceded already Also known as "argument from commitment", a type of valid ad hominem argument.
ex delicto from a transgression The consequence of a crime or tort.
ex demissione from a transgression part of the title of the old action of ejectment
Jones v. Doe ex dem. Smith
Ex dolo malo non oritur actio No action arises from harm
ex facie on the face If a contract is blatantly and obviously incorrect or illegal, it can be considered void ex facie without any further analysis or arguments.
ex fida bona good business norms
ex gratia by favor Something done voluntarily and with no expectation of a legal liability arising therefrom.
ex officio from the office Something done or realized by the fact of holding an office or position.
ex parte from [for] one party A decision reached, or case brought, by or for one party without the other party being present.
ex post from after Based on knowledge of the past.
ex post facto from a thing done afterward Commonly said as "after the fact."
ex post facto law A retroactive law. E.g. a law that makes illegal an act that was not illegal when it was done.
ex proprio motu by [one's] own motion Commonly spoken as "by one's own accord."
ex rel [arising] out of the narration [of the relator] Abbreviation of ex relatione. Used when the government brings a case that arises from the information conveyed to it by a third party ("relator").
ex tempore At the time Referring to a decision delivered at the time of a hearing, rather than having the judgment reserved for a later date.
exempli gratia for the sake of example Usually abbreviated "e.g.".
ex tunc from then Term used in contract law to specify terms that are voided or confirmed in effect from the execution of the contract. Cf. ex nunc.
Ex turpi causa non oritur actio
ex nunc from now on Term used in contract law to specify terms that are voided or confirmed in effect only in the future and not prior to the contract, or its adjudication. Cf. ex tunc.
extant existing Refers to things that are currently existing at a given point, rather than things that are no longer so.
facio ut facias I do, that you may do A type of contract wherein one party agrees to do work for the other, in order that the second party can then perform some work for the first in exchange.
factum deed 1. an assured statement made; 2. completion of a will and all its parts to make it valid and legal; 3). book of facts and law presented in a Canadian court.
favor contractus favor of the contract A concept in treaty law that prefers the maintaining of a contract over letting it expire for purely procedural reasons.
felo de se felon of himself A suicide. This archaic term stems from English common law, where suicide was legally a felony, thus a person who committed suicide was treated as a felon for purposes of estate disposal.
ferae naturae wild animals by nature Wild animals residing on unowned property do not belong to any party in a dispute on the land. Opposite of domitae naturae (above).
fiat Let it be done. A warrant issued by a judge for some legal proceedings.
fieri facias May you cause to be done. A writ ordering the local law enforcement to ensure that damages awarded by the court are properly recovered. A writ of execution.
fortis attachiamentum, validior praesumptionem strong attachment, the stronger presumption When determining whether a chattel is a fixture: "size doesn't matter, how much or degree chattel is attached to 'land' and to 'what' "
forum non conveniens disagreeable forum A concept wherein a court refuses to hear a particular matter, citing a more appropriate forum for the issue to be decided. /ˈfrəm nɒn kənˈvniɛnz/
fumus boni iuris smoke of a good right Refers to having a sufficient legal basis to bring legal action.
functus officio having performed his office A person, court, statute, or legal document that has no legal authority, because its original legal purpose has been fulfilled.
gravamen things weighing down The basic element or complaint of a lawsuit. /ɡrəˈvmɛn/
guardian ad litem guardian for the case An independent party appointed in family law disputes to represent parties that cannot represent themselves, such as minors, developmentally disabled, or elderly.
habeas corpus May you have the body. 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. /ˈhbiəs ˈkɔːrpəs/
hostis humani generis enemy of the human race A party considered to be the enemy of all nations, such as maritime pirates.
imprimatur Let it be printed. An authorization for a document to be printed. Used in the context of approval by a religious body or other censoring authority.
in absentia in absence A legal proceeding conducted without the presence of one party is said to be conducted in absentia, e.g., trial in absentia or being sentenced in absentia.
in articulo mortis at the moment of death Often used in probate law, as well as for testimony in the sense of a dying declaration.
in camera in the chamber Conducted in private, or in secret. The opposite of in open court.
in curia in court Conducted in open court. The opposite of in camera.
in esse in existence Actually existing in reality. Opposite of in posse.
in extenso in the extended In extended form, or at full length. Often used to refer to publication of documents, where it means the full unabridged document is published.
in extremis in the extreme In extreme circumstances. Often used to refer to "at the point of death."
in flagrante delicto in blazing offense Caught in the actual act of committing a crime. Often used as a euphemism for a couple caught in the act of sexual intercourse, though it technically refers to being "caught in the act" of any misdeed.
in forma pauperis in the manner of a pauper Someone unable to afford the costs associated with a legal proceeding. As this will not be a barrier to seeking justice, such persons are given in forma pauperis status (usually abbreviated IFP), wherein most costs are waived or substantially reduced. /ɪn ˌfɔːrmə ˈpɔːpərɪs/
in futuro in the future Refers to things to come, or things that may occur later but are not so now. As in in futuro debts, i.e. debts which become due and payable in the future. /ɪn fjˈtjr/
in haec verba in these words Used when including text in a complaint verbatim, where its appearance in that form is germane to the case, or is required to be included.
in limine at the threshold A motion to a judge in a case that is heard and considered outside the presence of the jury.
in loco parentis in the place of a parent Used to refer to a person or entity assuming the normal parental responsibilities for a minor. This can be used in transfers of legal guardianship, or in the case of schools or other institutions that act in the place of the parents on a day-to-day basis. /ɪn ˌlk pəˈrɛntɪs/
in mitius in the milder A type of retroactive law that decriminalizes offenses committed in the past. Also known as an amnesty law.
in omnibus in all Used to mean "in every respect." Something applying to every aspect of a situation.
in pari delicto in equal offense Used when both parties to a case are equally at fault.
in pari materia in the same matter Refers to a situation where a law or statute may be ambiguous, and similar laws applying to the matter are used to interpret the vague one.
in personam in person Used in the context of "directed at this particular person", refers to a judgement or subpoena directed at a specific named individual. Cf. in rem.
in pleno in full
in propria persona in one's own person Said of one who represents themselves in court without the [official] assistance of an attorney.
in re in the matter [of] Used in the title of a decision or comment to identify the matter they are related to; usually used for a case where the proceeding is in rem or quasi in rem and not in personam (e.g. probate or bankrupt estate, guardianship, application for laying out a public highway) and occasionally for an ex parte proceeding (e.g. application for a writ of habeas corpus). /ɪn ˈr/
in rem about a thing Used in the context of a case against property, as opposed to a particular person. See also in rem jurisdiction. Cf. in personam. /ɪn ˈrɛm/
in situ in position Often used in the context of decisions or rulings about a property or thing "left in place" after the case as it was before. /ɪn ˈstj, ɪn ˈsɪtj/
in terrorem in order to frighten A warning or threat to sue, made in the hopes of convincing the other party to take action to avoid a lawsuit.
in terrorem clause clause "in order to frighten" A clause in a will that threatens any party who contests the will with being disinherited. Also called a no-contest clause.
in toto in total /ɪn ˈtt/
indicia indications Often used in copyright notices. Refers to distinctive markings that identify a piece of intellectual property.
infra below or under
iniuria sine damno injury without financial or property loss It was stated in Ashby v. White that the law makes a presumption of damage in the absence of actual perceptible damage or financial loss and that the infringement of a right was enough for iniuria sine damno to be actionable.[12] /ɪnˈjuːriə ˈsni ˈdæmn/
innuendo by nodding An intimation about someone or something, made indirectly or vaguely suggesting the thing being implied. Often used when the implied thing is negative or derogatory.
inter alia among others Used to indicate an item cited has been pulled from a larger or more complete list. /ˌɪntər ˈliə/
inter rusticos among rustics Refers to contract, debts, or other agreements made between parties who are not legal professionals.
inter se amongst themselves Refers to obligations between members of the same group or party, differentiated from the whole party's obligations to another party.
inter vivos between the living Refers to a gift or other non-sale transfer between living parties. This is in contrast to a will, where the transfer takes effect upon one party's death. /ˌɪntər ˈvvɒs/
intra within
intra fauces terrae within the jaws of the land This term refers to a nation's territorial waters.
intra legem within the law Used in various contexts to refer to the legal foundation for a thing.
intra vires within the powers Something done which requires legal authority, and the act is performed accordingly. Cf. ultra vires.
ipse dixit He himself said it. An assertion given undue weight solely by virtue of the person making the assertion. /ˈɪpsi ˈdɪksɪt/
ipsissima verba the very words Referring to a document or ruling that is being quoted by another.
ipso facto by the fact itself Used in the context that one event is a direct and immediate consequence of another. "In and of itself." /ˈɪps ˈfækt/
ipso jure the law itself By operation of law.
ius civile vigilantibus scriptum est civil law is written for the vigilant Noting, that private law is written for those persons who are vigilant in pursuing their interests and diligently care for their own affairs.
jurat (He) swears Appears at the end of an affidavit, where the party making the affirmation signs the oath, and the information on whom the oath was sworn before is placed.
juris privati of private right Not clothed with a public interest.
jus law, right Essentially: law.
jus accrescendi right of survivorship Right of survivorship: In property law, on the death of one joint tenant, that tenant's interest passes automatically to the surviving tenant(s) to hold jointly until the estate is held by a sole tenant. The only way to defeat the right of survivorship is to sever the joint tenancy during the lifetime of the parties, the right of survivorship takes priority over a will or interstate accession rules.[7]
jus ad bellum laws to war Refers to legalities considered before entering into a war, to ensure it is legal to go to war initially. Not to be confused with ius in bello (q.v.), the "laws of war" concerning how war is carried out.
jus civile civil law A codified set of laws concerning citizenry, and how the laws apply to them.
jus cogens compelling law Internationally agreed laws that bear no deviation, and do not require treaties to be in effect. An example is law prohibiting genocide.
jus gentium law of nations Customary law followed by all nations. Nations being at peace with one another, without having to have an actual peace treaty in force, would be an example of this concept.
jus in bello law in war Laws governing the conduct of parties in war.
jus inter gentes law between the peoples Laws governing treaties and international agreements.
jus legationis right of legation The right to send and receive diplomatic representation
jus naturale natural law Laws common to all people, that the average person would find reasonable, regardless of their nationality.
jus primae noctis right of the first night Supposed right of the lord of an estate to take the virginity of women in his estate on their wedding night.
jus sanguinis right of blood Social law concept wherein citizenship of a nation is determined by having one or both parents being citizens. /ˈʌs ˈsæŋɡwɪnɪs/
jus soli right of soil Social law concept wherein citizenship of a nation is determined by place of birth. /ˈʌs ˈsl/
jus tertii law of the third Arguments made by a third party in disputes over possession, the intent of which is to question one of the principal parties' claims of ownership or rights to ownership.
lacuna void, gap A situation arising that is not covered by any law, especially when related situations are covered by the law or where the situation appears to fall "between" multiple laws. Generally used in International Law, which is less comprehensive than most domestic legal systems.
lex communis common law Alternate form of jus commune. Refers to common facets of civil law that underlie all aspects of the law.
lex fori the law of the country in which an action is brought out
lex lata the carried law The law as it has been enacted.
lex loci the law of the place The law of the country, state, or locality where the matter under litigation took place. Usually used in contract law, to determine which laws govern the contract. /ˈlɛks ˈls/
lex scripta written law Law that specifically codifies something, as opposed to common law or customary law.
liberum veto free veto An aspect of a unanimous voting system, whereby any member can end discussion on a proposed law.
lingua franca the Frankish language A language common to an area that is spoken by all, even if not their mother tongue. Term derives from the name given to a common language used by traders in the Mediterranean basin dating from the Middle Ages.
lis alibi pendens lawsuit elsewhere pending Refers to requesting a legal dispute be heard that is also being heard by another court. To avoid possibly contradictory judgements, this request will not be granted.
lis pendens suit pending Often used in the context of public announcements of legal proceedings to come. Compare pendente lite (below).
locus place
locus delicti place of the crime Shorthand version of Lex locus delicti commissi. The "scene of the crime".
locus in quo the place in which The location where a cause of action arose.
locus poenitentiae place of repentance When one party withdraws from a contract before all parties are bound.
locus standi place of standing The right of a party to appear and be heard before a court. /ˈlkəs ˈstænd/
mala fide (in) bad faith A condition of being fraudulent or deceptive in act or belief.
malum in se wrong in itself Something considered a universal wrong or evil, regardless of the system of laws in effect.
malum prohibitum prohibited wrong Something wrong or illegal by virtue of it being expressly prohibited, that might not otherwise be so.
mandamus we command A writ issue by a higher court to a lower one, ordering that court or related officials to perform some administrative duty. Often used in the context of legal oversight of government agencies. /mænˈdməs/
mare clausum closed sea A body of water under the jurisdiction of a state or nation, to which access is not permitted, or is tightly regulated. /ˈmri ˈklɔːzəm/
mare liberum open sea A body of water open to all. Typically a synonym for International Waters, or in other legal parlance, the "High Seas".
mea culpa through my fault An acknowledgement of wrongdoing. /ˈm.ə ˈkul.pə/
mens rea guilty mind One of the requirements for a crime to be committed, the other being actus reus, the guilt act. This essentially is the basis for the notion that those without sufficient mental capability cannot be judged guilty of a crime. /ˈmɛns ˈrə/
modus operandi manner of operation A person's particular way of doing things. Used when using behavioral analysis while investigating a crime. Often abbreviated "M.O." /ˈmdəs ɒpəˈrænd, ˈmdəs ɒpəˈrændi/
mortis causa in contemplation of death Gift or trust that is made in contemplation of death.
mos pro lege custom for law That which is the usual custom has the force of law.
motion in limine motion at the start Motions offered at the start of a trial, often to suppress or pre-allow certain evidence or testimony.
mutatis mutandis having changed [the things that] needed to be changed A caution to a reader when using one example to illustrate a related but slightly different situation. The caution is that the reader must adapt the example to change what is needed for it to apply to the new situation.
ne exeat let him not exit [the republic] Shortened version of ne exeat republica: "let him not exit the republic". A writ to prevent one party to a dispute from leaving (or being taken) from the court's jurisdiction. /ˈn ˈɛksiæt/
Nemo dat quod non habet Nobody can give what he has not bankruptcy law
Nemo debet bis vexari (pro una et eadem causa) No-one should be tried twice (for one and the same charge) It is a principle of double jeopardy (autrefois acquit) where a person should not be tried twice on the same matter.
Nemo iudex in causa sua No-one should be a judge in his own case. It is a principle of natural justice that no person can judge a case in which they have an interest.
Nemo potest dare quod suum non est No one can give what he possesses not inter alia, see Dante on monarchy
Nemo potest esse tenens et dominus No one can at the same time be a tenant and a landlord Nor can one person covenant with himself and others jointly
Nemo potest mutare consilium suum in alterius iniuriam Nobody can change his own purpose to another's injury
Nemo potest nisi quod de jure potest A person can do only things, which s/he can do lawfully. Under law, a thing which cannot be lawfully performed is considered not within one's power.
Nemo potest praecise cogi ad factum Nobody can be forced to a specific act
Nemo potest venire contra factum proprium No-one can act in a way contrary to his own prior actions. doctrines of promissory estoppel and equitable estoppel; prohibited for a party to act in such a way that contradicts a previous act of his own on which the other party relied, thus causing a detriment to the latter.
Nemo potest facere per alium quod per se non potest No one can do through another what he cannot do himself.
nihil dicit He says nothing. A judgement rendered in the absence of a plea, or in the event one party refuses to cooperate in the proceedings.
nisi unless A decree that does not enter into force unless some other specified condition is met. /ˈns/
nisi prius unless first Refers to the court of original jurisdiction in a given matter. /ˈns ˈprəs/
nolle prosequi not to prosecute A statement from the prosecution that they are voluntarily discontinuing (or will not initiate) prosecution of a matter. /ˈnɒli ˈprɒsɪkw/
nolo contendere I do not wish to argue A type of plea whereby the defendant neither admits nor denies the charge. Commonly interpreted as "No contest." /ˈnl kɒnˈtɛndɪri/
non adimpleti contractus of a non-completed contract In the case where a contract imposes specific obligations on both parties, one side cannot sue the other for failure to meet their obligations, if the plaintiff has not themselves met their own.
non compos mentis not in possession of [one's] mind Not having mental capacity to perform some legal act
non constat It is not certain. Refers to information given by one who is not supposed to give testimony, such as an attorney bringing up new information that did not come from a witness. Such information is typically nullified.
non est factum It is not [my] deed. A method whereby a signatory to a contract can invalidate it by showing that his signature to the contract was made unintentionally or without full understanding of the implications.
non est inventus He was not found. Reported by a sheriff on writ when the defendant cannot be found in his county or jurisdiction.
non liquet It is not clear. A type of verdict where positive guilt or innocence cannot be determined. Also called "not proven" in legal systems with such verdicts.
non obstante verdicto notwithstanding the verdict A circumstance where the judge may override the jury verdict and reverse or modify the decision.
novus actus interveniens a new action coming between A break in causation (and therefore probably liability) because something else has happened to remove the causal link.
noscitur a sociis It is known by the company it keeps. An ambiguous word or term can be clarified by considering the whole context in which it is used, without having to define the term itself.
nota bene note well A term used to direct the reader to cautionary or qualifying statements for the main text.
Nullum crimen sine lege No-one can face punishment except for an act that was criminalized before he performed the act
Nulla poena sine culpa no punishment without fault One cannot be punished for something that they are not guilty of.
nudum pactum naked promise An unenforceable promise, due to the absence of consideration or value exchanged for the promise.
nulla bona no goods Notation made when a defendant has no tangible property available to be seized in order to comply with a judgement.
nunc pro tunc now for then An action by a court to correct a previous procedural or clerical error.
obiter dictum a thing said in passing In law, an observation by a judge on some point of law not directly relevant to the case before him, and thus neither requiring his decision nor serving as a precedent, but nevertheless of persuasive authority. In general, any comment, remark or observation made in passing.
onus probandi Burden of proof.
ore tenus (evidence) presented orally
pace with peace Used to say 'contrary to the opinion of.' It is a polite way of marking a speaker's disagreement with someone or some body of thought. /ˈpɑː/
par delictum equal fault Used when both parties to a dispute are at fault.
parens patriae parent of the nation Refers to the power of the State to act as parent to a child when the legal parents are unable or unwilling.
pari passu on equal footing Equal ranking, equal priority (usually referring to creditors).
partus sequitur ventrem Offspring follows the belly Legal status of children of slaves is the same as their mother's.
pendente lite while the litigation is pending Court orders used to provide relief until the final judgement is rendered. Commonly used in divorce proceedings. The adverbial form of lis pendens (above).
per capita by head Dividing money up strictly and equally according to the number of beneficiaries
per contra by that against Legal shorthand for "in contrast to".
per curiam through the court A decision delivered by a multi-judge panel, such as an appellate court, in which the decision is said to be authored by the court itself, instead of situations where those individual judges supporting the decision are named. /ˌpɜːr ˈkjriæm/
per incuriam by their neglect A judgement given without reference to precedent.
per minas through threats Used as a defense, when illegal acts were performed under duress.
per proxima amici by or through the next friend Employed when an adult brings suit on behalf of a minor, who was unable to maintain an action on his own behalf at common law.
per quod by which Used in legal documents in the same sense as "whereby". A per quod statement is typically used to show that specific acts had consequences which form the basis for the legal action.
per se by itself Something that is, as a matter of law.
per stirpes by branch An estate of a decedent is distributed per stirpes, if each branch of the family is to receive an equal share of an estate.
periculum in mora danger in delay A condition given to support requests for urgent action, such as a protective order or restraining order.
persona non grata unwelcome person A person who is officially considered unwelcome by a host country in which they are residing in a diplomatic capacity. The person is typically expelled to their home country. /pərˈsnə nɒn ˈɡrɑːtə, pərˈsnə nɒn ˈɡrtə/
posse comitatus power of the county A body of armed citizens pressed into service by legal authority, to keep the peace or pursue a fugitive. /ˈpɒsi ˌkɒmɪˈttəs/
post hoc ergo propter hoc after this, therefore because of this A logical fallacy that suggests that an action causes an effect simply because the action occurred before the effect.
post mortem after death Refers to an autopsy, or as a qualification as to when some event occurred.
post mortem auctoris after the author's death Used in reference to intellectual property rights, which usually are based around the author's lifetime.
postliminium return from the other Refers to the return of legal standing and property of a person who returns to the jurisdiction of Rome
praetor peregrinus magistrate of foreigners The Roman praetor (magistrate) responsible for matters involving non-Romans.
prima facie at first face A matter that appears to be sufficiently based in the evidence as to be considered true. /ˈprmə ˈfʃii/
pro bono for good Professional work done for free. /ˈpr ˈbn/
pro bono publico for the public good /ˈpr ˈbn ˈpʌblɪk/
pro forma as a matter of form Things done as formalities.
pro hac vice for this turn Refers to a lawyer who is allowed to participate (only) in a specific case, despite being in a jurisdiction in which he has not been generally admitted.
pro per abbreviation of propria persona, meaning "one's own person" Representing oneself, without counsel. Also known as pro se representation.
pro rata from the rate A calculation adjusted based on a proportional value relevant to the calculation. An example would be a tenant being charged a portion of a month's rent based on having lived there less than a full month. The amount charged would be proportional to the time occupied.
pro se for himself Representing oneself, without counsel. Also known as pro per representation. /ˌpr ˈs, ˌpr ˈs/
pro tanto for so much A partial payment of an award or claim, based on the defendant's ability to pay.
pro tem abbreviation of pro tempore, meaning "for the time being" Something, such as an office held, that is temporary.
pro tempore for the time being Something, such as an office held, that is temporary.
propria persona proper person Refers to one representing themselves without the services of a lawyer. Also known as pro per representation.
qua which; as In the capacity of.
quae ipso usu consumuntur Consumed by the use itself Used in relation with objects whose purpose is to be consumed or destroyed. Examples include food, fuel, medicine, matches or money.[13]
quaeritur It is sought. The question is raised. Used to declare that a question is being asked in the following verbiage.
quaere query Used in legal drafts to call attention to some uncertainty or inconsistency in the material being cited.
quantum how much
quantum meruit as much as it deserves; as much as she or he has earned[10] In contract law, a quasi-contractual remedy that permits partial reasonable payment for an incomplete piece of work (services and/or materials), assessed proportionately, where no price is established when the request is made.[10]

In contract law, and in particular the requirement for consideration, if no fixed price is agreed upon for the service and/or materials, then one party would request a reasonable price for the said services and/or materials at the end of the job. A common example would be a plumber requested to fix a leak in the middle of the night.[10]

quantum valebant as much as they were worth Under Common Law, a remedy to compute reasonable damages when a contract has been breached – the implied promise of payment of a reasonable price for goods.
In contract law, for requirements of consideration, reasonable worth for goods delivered.
Usage: quantum meruit has replaced quantum valebant in consideration;[10] in the case of contract remedy, quantum valebant is being used less, and could be considered obsolete.
quasi as if Resembling or being similar to something, without actually being that thing.
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". In a qui tam action, one who assists the prosecution of a case is entitled to a proportion of any fines or penalties assessed.
quid pro quo this for that An equal exchange of goods or services, or of money (or other consideration of equal value) for some goods or services.
quo ante as before Returning to a specific state of affairs which preceded some defined action.
quo warranto by what warrant A request made to someone exercising some power, to show by what legal right they are exercising that power. A type of writ.
quoad hoc as to this Used to mean "with respect to" some named thing, such as when stating what the law is in regards to that named thing.
R Rex or Regina King or Queen. In British cases, will see R v Freeman meaning Regina against Freeman. Changes with King or Queen on throne.
ratio decidendi reason for the decision The point in a legal proceeding, or the legal precedent so involved, which led to the final decision being what it was.
ratio scripta written reason The popular opinion of Roman law, held by those in the Medieval period.
rationae soli by reason of the soil "Certain rights may arise by virtue of ownership of the soil upon which wild animals are found."[7]
rebus sic stantibus things thus standing A qualification in a treaty or contract, that allows for nullification in the event fundamental circumstances change.
reddendo singula singulis referring solely to the last The canon of construction that in a list of items containing a qualifying phrase at the end, the qualifier refers only to the last item in the list.
res thing, matter, issue, affair
res communis common to all Property constructs like airspace and water rights are said to be res communis – that is, a thing common to all, and that could not be the subject of ownership. With airspace, the difficulty has been to identify where the fee simple holder's rights to the heavens end. Water is a bit more defined – it is common until captured.[7]
res derelictae abandoned goods Material property abandoned by its owner
res ipsa loquitur the thing speaks for itself The principle that the occurrence of an accident implies negligence. This principle allows the elements of duty of care, breach, and causation to be inferred from an injury that does not ordinarily occur without negligence.
res gestae a thing done Differing meaning depending on what type of law is involved. May refer to the complete act of a felony, from start to finish, or may refer to statements given that may be exempt from hearsay rules.
res judicata a matter judged A matter that has been finally adjudicated, meaning no further appeals or legal actions by the involved parties is now possible. /ˈrz dɪˈktə, ˈrz, dɪˈkɑːtə/
res nova a new thing A question of law on which no court has previously ruled, or a factual situation about which no court has previously ruled; a legal case without a precedent
res nullius nobody's thing Ownerless property or goods. Such property or goods are able and subject to being owned by anybody.
res publica public affair All things subject to concern by the citizenry. The root of the word republic.
respondeat superior Let the master answer. A concept that the master (e.g. employer) is responsible for the actions of his subordinates (e.g. employees).
scandalum magnatum scandal of the magnates Defamation against a peer in British law. Now repealed as a specific offense.
scienter knowingly Used when offenses or torts were committed with the full awareness of the one so committing.
scire facias Let them know. A writ, directing local officials to officially inform a party of official proceedings concerning them.
scire feci I have made known. The official response of the official serving a writ of scire facias, informing the court that the writ has been properly delivered.
secundum formam statuti According to the form of the statute.
se defendendo self-defense The act of defending one's own person or property, or the well-being or property of another.
seriatim in series Describes the process in which the court hears assorted matters in a specific order. Also refers to an occasion where a multiple-judge panel will issue individual opinions from the members, rather than a single ruling from the entire panel.
sine die without day Used when the court is adjourning without specifying a date to re-convene. See also adjournment sine die.
sine qua non without which, nothing Refers to some essential event or action, without which there can be no specified consequence.
situs the place Used to refer to laws specific to the location where specific property exists, or where an offense or tort was committed.
stare decisis to stand by [things] decided The obligation of a judge to stand by a prior precedent. /ˈstri dɪˈssɪs/
status quo
status quo ante
statu quo
the state in which In contract law, in a case of innocent representation, the injured party is entitled to be replaced in statu quo. Note the common usage is status quo from the Latin status quo ante, the "state in which before" or "the state of affairs that existed previously."[10]
stratum a covering, from neuter past participle of sternere, to spread 1) In property law, condominiums has said to occupy stratum many stories about the ground.[7]
2) Stratum can also be a societial level made up of individuals with similar status of social, cultural or economic nature.
3) Stratum can refer to classification in an organized system along the lines of layers, levels, divisions, or similar grouping.
sua sponte of its own accord Some action taken by the public prosecutor or another official body, without the prompting of a plaintiff or another party. (compare ex proprio motu, ex mero motu which are used for courts).
sub judice under the judge Refers to a matter currently being considered by the court.
sub modo subject to modification Term in contract law that allows limited modifications to a contract after the original form has been agreed to by all parties.
sub nomine under the name Abbreviated sub nom.; used in case citations to indicate that the official name of a case changed during the proceedings, usually after appeal (e.g., rev'd sub nom. and aff'd sub nom.)
sub silentio under silence A ruling, order, or other court action made without specifically stating the ruling, order, or action. The effect of the ruling or action is implied by related and subsequent actions, but not specifically stated.
subpoena under penalty A writ compelling testimony, the production of evidence, or some other action, under penalty for failure to do so.
subpoena ad testificandum under penalty to be witnessed An order compelling an entity to give oral testimony in a legal matter.
subpoena duces tecum bring with you under penalty An order compelling an entity to produce physical evidence or witness in a legal matter.
suggestio falsi false suggestion A false statement made in the negotiation of a contract.
sui generis of its own kind/genus Something that is unique amongst a group.
sui juris of his own right Refers to one legally competent to manage his own affairs. Also spelled sui iuris.
suo motu of its own motion Refers to a court or other official agency taking some action on its own accord (synonyms: ex proprio motu, ex mero motu). Similar to sua sponte.
supersedeas refrain from A bond tendered by an appellant as surety to the court, requesting a delay of payment for awards or damages granted, pending the outcome of the appeal.
suppressio veri suppression of the truth Willful concealment of the truth when bound to reveal it, such as withholding details of damage from an auto accident from a prospective buyer of the car in that accident.
supra above Used in citations to refer to a previously cited source.
terra nullius no one's land Land that has never been part of a sovereign state, or land which a sovereign state has relinquished claim to.
trial de novo trial anew A completely new trial of a matter previously judged. It specifically refers to a replacement trial for the previous one, and not an appeal of the previous decision.
trinoda necessitas three-knotted need Refers to a threefold tax levied on Anglo-Saxon citizens to cover roads, buildings, and the military.
uberrima fides most abundant faith Concept in contract law specifying that all parties must act with the utmost good faith.
ubi eadem ratio, ibi idem jus where there is the same reason there is the same law;[14] like reason doth make like law.[15] See the judgment of Lord Holt CJ in Ashby v White.
ubi jus ibi remedium wherever a right exists there is also a remedy See the judgment of Lord Holt CJ in Ashby v White.[16][17]Some legal scholars find it reflected in the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.[18]
ultra vires beyond the powers An act that requires legal authority to perform, but which is done without obtaining that authority.
universitas personarum totality of people Aggregate of people, body corporate, as in a college, corporation, or state
universitas rerum totality of things Aggregate of things.
uno flatu in one breath Used to criticize inconsistencies in speech or testimony, as in: one says one thing, and in the same breath, says another contradictory thing.
uti possidetis as you possess Ancient concept regarding conflicts, wherein all property possessed by the parties at the conclusion of the conflict shall remain owned by those parties unless treaties to the contrary are enacted.
uxor wife Used in documents in place of the wife's name. Usually abbreviated et ux.
vel non or not Used when considering whether some event or situation is either present or it is not.
veto forbid The power of an executive to prevent an action, especially the enactment of legislation.
vice versa the other way around Something that is the same either way.
vide see Used in citations to refer the reader to another location.
videlicet contraction of videre licet, meaning "it is permitted to see" Used in documents to mean "namely" or "that is". Usually abbreviated viz.
viz. abbreviation of videlicet Namely.
vigilantibus non dormientibus iura subveniunt The laws benefit those who are vigilant rather than those who sleep.

Civil law[edit]

Term or phrase Literal translation Definition and use English pron
accessio something added Accession, i.e. mode of acquisition by creation in which labor and other goods are added to property in such a manner that the identity of the original property is not lost (vs. commixtio, specificatio)
accidentalia negotii business incidentals Express contractual terms that are purely voluntary, optional, and not necessitated by the contract's subject matter. Also called incidentalia (Roman-Dutch law). One of three types of contractual terms, the others being essentialia negotii and naturalia negotii.
actus iuridicus legal act 1. In French-law-based systems, refers only to those sources of subjective law that are human-made and voluntary (vs. factum iuridicum); 2. In German-law-based systems, encompasses all sources of subjective law, be they human-made or not, voluntary or not. See also negotium iuridicum.
ad quantitatem by the quantity itemized, e.g. sale ad quantitatem = item sale (e.g. 100 carp, 10,000 lbs. of sugar, 10 casks of corn) (vs. per aversionem)
aditio hereditatis hereditary approach Entering into the inheritance, i.e. vesting of the inheritance in an heir or will beneficiary. See delatio hereditatis.
aliquid novi something new The new element or aspect of a novation (vs. idem debitum). Also known as novum.
casum sentit dominus accident is felt by the owner The owner who has to assume the risk of accidental harm to him or accidental loss to his property.
casus fortuitus fortuitous event Force majeure arising from a human-made inevitable accident (e.g. riots, strikes, civil war); ex: When H.M.S. Bounty was destroyed by Hurricane Sandy, October 29, 2012, casus fortuitus would describe the H.M.S. Bounty being at the wrong place when Hurricane Sandy came up the coast.HMS Bounty Sinks Compare vis maior (see below).
cautio de restituendo guarantee to reinstate Security or guarantee that heirs must provide in a case where an absent person's estate is divided among them (insurance law)
cessio yielding Assignment, that is, the transfer of rights or benefits.
collatio bonorum bringing together of goods Hotchpot. Also called collatio inter liberos (Scots law).
commixtio commingling Confusion, i.e. acquisition by creation in which fungible solid or liquid goods (and no labor) of different owners intermingle in such a way that the mixture creates a new thing and can no longer be separately identified, it is owned by the owners in co-ownership (vs. accessio, specificatio)
commodatum accommodation Loan for use, i.e. bailment of movable property that is not perishable or consumable to be returned without payment. Parties:
  • commodans 'bailor'
  • commodatarius 'bailee'
communio bonorum community of goods The aggregate of marital property (or marital estate) under a community property matrimonial regime.
compensatio balancing of accounts Set-off. Type: compensatio lucri cum damno - set-off of profit and loss
compensatio morae balance of delay Delay in payment or performance on the part of both the debtor and the creditor.
confusio melting together Merger of counterparty rights in the same person (e.g. debtor-creditor, buyer-seller, landlord-tenant, etc.), thereby extinguishing an obligation or right. Adverb: confusione.
conjunctissimus the most joined Next-of-kin. Plural conjunctissimi.
contra bonos mores against good morals Contracts so made are generally illegal and unenforceable.
culpa guilt Unintentional negligence (in tort). Degrees:
  • culpa lata - gross negligence
  • culpa levis - ordinary negligence
  • culpa levissima - slight negligence
cum beneficio inventarii under benefit of inventory As in an heir cum beneficio inventarii, who accepts his/her share in a deceased's estate after having had an appraisal and estate inventory drawn up, thereby separating their share from the whole and limiting their liability.
cum onere with burdens (Louisiana law) as encumbered, i.e. alienated with the encumbrances running with the land.
cura guardianship Curatorship, i.e. legal guardianship under which the ward is totally and permanently incapable. Compare tutela. Parties are:
  • curandus - ward
  • curator - guardian (see below)
curator guardian Guardian under a curatorship (cura). Types are:
  • curator ad litem - guardian ad litem
  • curator bonis - guardian of the property
  • curator personae - guardian of the person
damnum emergens emergent loss Loss actually incurred because of a contractual breach
damnum et interesse damage and interests Tortious damages, damages in tort
data certa certain date Fixed effective date of a contract, i.e. one that cannot be ante- or post-dated
datio in solutum giving in payment Species of accord and satisfaction by transfer or assignment of property in lieu of money; kind of in-kind payment, as opposed to a money payment
de cujus (s)he for whom... The deceased, decedent. Short for de cujus successione agitur.
delatio hereditatis hereditary transferral Falling open of succession. See aditio hereditatis.
domicilium citandi et executandi domicile for summoning and carrying out Address for service or notices (e.g. for contractual purposes).
dominium plurium in solidum plural, joint and several ownership Joint tenancy.
dominium pro parte pro indiviso unpartitioned and undivided ownership Tenancy in common. Also known as communio pro partibus indivisis.
dominus litis master of the case Litigant, the client in a lawsuit, as opposed to the lawyer.
error in iudicando error in judgment (in court) Error of fact and reasoning (vs. error in procedendo)
error in procedendo procedural error (in court) Error on a point of law or procedure (vs. error in iudicando)
essentalia negotii business essentials Express or implied contractual terms that are required either by law or by the contract's subject matter. One of three types of contractual terms, the others being accidentialia negotii and naturalia negotii.
ex intervalo temporis Not all at once, in parts (vs. uno contextu).
ex propriis sensibus with one's own senses Used for firsthand testimony, e.g. testimony ex propriis sensibus (vs. per relationem).
factum iuridicum legal fact In French-law-based systems, refers to those sources of subjective law that are either not human-made or human-made but involuntary (vs. actus iuridicus).
falsus procurator fake agent Agent de son tort, officious agent
fideicommissum entrusting to (a person's) good faith. Testamentary trust; a form of substitution (called 'fideicommissary substitution') in which a will beneficiary is instructed in the will to transfer the testamentary gift in whole or part to a third party. A fideicommissum is created either expressly in a will or impliedly through a si sine liberis decesserit clause or through a prohibition against alienation in the will.[19]
fideiussio Suretyship.
fructus industriales industrial fruits Emblements; in property law, a co-owner profiting from her or his fructus industriales is solely responsible for any losses that my occur.[7] (vs. fructus naturales, see below).
fructus naturales natural fruits Vegetation naturally growing from old roots (as pasturage) or from trees (as timber or fruit) (vs. fructus industriales, see above).
hereditas iacens lying inheritance Estate of inheritance before vesting in heirs
heres Heir. Plural heredes. Types:
  • heredes proximi - closest heirs
  • sui heredes necessarii - forced heirs (singular suus heres necessarius)
hypotheca Mortgage
idem debitum same debt The element or aspect of the novation that does not change (vs. aliquid novi)
in casu in the case In the instant case; used when referring to the matter before the court in a case being discussed
in solidum for the whole Jointly and severally; short for singuli et in solidum. Where a group of persons share liability for a debt, such as co-signers to a loan, the debtor can sue a single party in solidum, that is jointly and severally, to recover the entire amount owed.
inaedificatio building Attachment of movables to land, accession by building
inaudita altera parte without hearing the other party Equivalent of common law ex parte, especially in the context of submitting a motion, brief, or obtaining relief as fast as possible
incapax incapable (Scots law) person not having capacity (mental, legal, or otherwise). [ɪnˈkapaks]
indignus (heres) unworthy heir Unworthy beneficiary or heir, who is precluded from inheriting because his conduct makes him unworthy, in a legal sense, to take in the deceased's estate.
infans infant (Roman-Dutch law) child of 7 years or younger and who therefore has very limited legal capacity. Plural infantes. [ˈinˌfanz]
invecta et illata brought in and carried out Tenant's things brought into the leased premises for his/her temporary use
iudex ad quem Appellate court or court of last resort (vs. iudex a quo)
iudex a quo Lower court from which an appeal originates; originating court (vs. iudex ad quem)
iura novit curia the court knows the law The principle that the parties to a legal dispute do not need to plead or prove the law that applies to their case.
ius accrescendi right of accrual (Civil law) Accretion, i.e. right of a will beneficiary to succeed proportionately to a testamentary gift that another beneficiary in the same will cannot or does not want to take.
ius commune common law Not actually referring to common law; this term refers to common doctrine and principles of civil law that underlie all aspects of civilian legal systems and that formed the basis of medieval Roman law.
ius persequendi right of following Right of pursuit, i.e. the creditor's right to pursue a debt that runs with the land into the hands of a bona fide purchaser
ius praeferendi right of preferring Priority right or preferential right, i.e. a creditor's right to rank higher relative to another
ius quaesitum tertio right to third-party relief Right of a third-party beneficiary to sue in order to enforce a third-party contract, i.e. the opposite of privity of contract.
ius retentionis right of retaining Lien (possessory)
ius variandi right of varying Free choice of court actions where concurrent actions lie, e.g. tort and criminal, or tort and breach of contract.
laesio enormis unusual injury Lesion, i.e. excessive loss or injury used as grounds for setting aside a contract. Lesion beyond moiety (laesio ultra dimidium) is the standard in French-law-based systems; sold for less than half its value or purchased for more than double.
lex commissoria cancelling law Forfeiture clause for nonperformance of a contract, especially (1) a provision that a pledge shall be forfeited if a loan is defaulted, or (2) a condition that money paid on a contract of sale shall be forfeited and the sale rescinded if outstanding payments are defaulted. Also known as a pactum commissorium.
liberandi causa liberating cause As in 'prescription liberandi causa', i.e. liberative prescription (aka extinctive prescription), which is the civilian equivalent of a statutory limitation period.
locatio conductio leasing (and) hiring Hire or rental. Types:
  • locatio conductio operarum - employment, indentured servitude, and master/slave relationship
  • locatio conductio operis - hire of service provider or independent contractor
  • locatio conductio rei - rental or letting of property
lucrum cessans ceasing profit Prospective damages or loss of profits that would, because of the contractual breach, have been made in the future
mandatum mandate Bilateral agreement for direct representation between a principal and agent. Compare procuratio. Parties:
  • mandatarius 'agent'
  • mandator 'principal'
monstrum monster Child born with severe deformities. Plural monstra.
mora accipiendi delay of the one receiving Delay in payment or performance in the part of the creditor or obligor. Also known as mora creditoris.
mora solvendi delay of the one paying Delay in payment or performance in the part of the debtor or the obligee. Also known as mora debitoris. 2 forms:
  • mora solvendi ex re - delay in giving or delivering a thing;
  • mora solvendi ex personae - delay in obligations to do or perform personal service.
naturalia negotii business naturals Express or implied contractual terms that go to the root of a contract's subject matter. One of three types of contractual terms, the others being accidentialia negotii and essentalia negotii.
nec vi, nec clam, nec precario Without force, without secrecy, without permission Peacefully, openly, and with the intention to acquire ownership; applies to acquisitive prescription
negotiorum gestio management of affairs Quasi-contractual obligation arising from benevolent or necessitous intermeddling, obliging the benefited party (dominus negotii) to reimburse the intermeddler (gestor) for the cost that was used in doing good works.
negotium iuridicum legal business 1. In French-law-based systems, refers to the legal operation, activity, or fact embodied or memorialized by a legal instrument (as opposed to the instrument itself, known as an instrumentum); 2. In German-law-based systems, refers to a transactional act, the main sub-type of legal acts. See also actus iuridicus.
non bis in idem not twice in the same Prohibition against double jeopardy. A legal action cannot be brought twice for the same act or offense. [nɔnbisinidɛm]
novum iudicium new judgment Appeal by way of hearing de novo, i.e. the case is retried with no restrictions of scope: errors of law are reviewed and new findings of fact are made. (vs. revisio prioris instantiae)
nudum praeceptum naked precept If a testator places a prohibition on a testamentary gift but fails to say what should happen to the gift if the prohibition is contravened, the prohibition is said to be 'nude', i.e. a nudum praeceptum. In other words, the prohibition is of no effect, and the beneficiary will take the gift free from any restrictions.
pactum de contrahendo agreement to contract Prior contract aimed at concluding another contract, known as the parent or principal contract. Includes binders (in real estate sales), such as a purchase offer or an option to sell.
pactum de non cedendo agreement to not yield Anti-assignment clause
pactum de non petendo (in anticipando) agreement to not sue Agreement in which one party agrees not to sue the other.
pactum de retrovendendo agreement to sell back Contract of sale with right of repurchase
pactum reservati dominii agreement of reserved owners Reservation of title
pactum successorium inheritance agreement Bilateral contract concerning succession, usually made between a potential testator (future decedent) and his/her heir. Plural pacta successoria. The most common forms are:
  • pactum renunciativum (aka pactum de non succedendo) - disclaimer of interest
  • pactum acquisitivum (aka pactum conservandae successionis) - deed of variation
  • pactum de hereditate tertii viventis - family settlement agreement.
pars dominii ownership part The three major rights in the bundle of rights making up ownership, i.e. usus (aka ius utendi), fructus (aka ius fruendi), and abusus (aka ius abutendi).
paterfamilias father of the family The head of household, for purposes of considering the rights and responsibilities thereof. (Civil law) bonus paterfamilias: a standard of care equivalent to the common law ordinary reasonable man. Other degrees of care are:
  • diligens paterfamilias - higher standard of care, greater diligence;
  • diligentissimus paterfamilias - highest standard of care, utmost diligence.
penitus extraneus outside penitent Incidental beneficiary or any outside party to a third-party contract (see stipulatio alteri). Plural penitus extranei.
per aversionem by turning away (1) description, whereby the surrounding property is used to provide the legal description of the boundaries of the property; (2) sale per aversionem = bulk sale (a flock of sheep for $100 - the number of sheep are uncounted) (vs. ad quantitatum)
per relationem by relation Hearsay; used for secondhand, indirect evidence, e.g. testimony per relationem 'hearsay testimony' (vs. ex propriis sensibus). Also called de auditu.
pignus pledge Pledge, i.e. a possessory security interest
pleno iure by full right Self-executing, without need of a court order or judicial proceedings; with full right or authority. Ex: null pleno iure.
plus quam tolerabile more than tolerable Excessive, beyond tolerable; in reference to a nuisance or some other violation of neighbor law.
praedium estate Landed property, tenement of land, especially with respect to an easement (servitude). 2 types:
  • praedium dominans - dominant estate (aka dominant tenement)
  • praedium serviens - servient estate (aka servient tenement)
praeemptio previous purchase Right of first refusal
praesumptio presumption Legal presumption. Types:
  • praesumptio iuris tantum - rebuttable presumption
  • praesumptio iuris et de iure - irrebuttable or conclusive presumption
praesumptio innocentiae Presumption of innocence
praesumptio veritatis et solemnitatis presumption of truth and solemnity Presumption of regularity, which attaches to public instruments admissible to prove the truth of their contents.
pretium pro doloribus price for pain Solatium.
prior tempore potior iure earlier in time, stronger in law (Scots law, civil law), usually translated as "prior in time, superior in right", the principle that someone who registers (a security interest) earlier therefore ranks higher than other creditors.
probatio Evidence (admissible in a court of law), especially documentary evidence. Types:
  • adminiculum (probationis) 'adminicular evidence' - evidence adduced in aid or support of other evidence, which without it is imperfect
  • semiplena probatio, probatio semiplena 'half proof, imperfect proof' - executed in presence of 1 or no witnesses; includes private instruments
  • plena probatio, probatio plena 'full proof, perfect proof' - executed in presence of 2 witnesses; includes public instruments
  • probatio probatissima - the highest evidence, referring to testimony under oath (received into common law but not civil law)
procuratio management Power of attorney, i.e. a unilateral grant of indirect representation by a principal to an attorney-in-fact. Compare mandatum.
procurator Agent, attorney-in-fact. Types:
  • procurator ad causas - attorney employed to assist a litigant in the conduct of his lawsuit
  • procurator ad negotia - attorney assisting his client in transacting other business
  • procurator in rem suam - holder of an irrevocable power of attorney
quaestus liberales Liberal profession
restitutio in integrum total reinstatement (1) Restoration of something, such as a building or damaged property, to its original condition.
(2) In contract law, when considering breach of contract and remedies, to restore a party to an original position.[10]
revisio prioris instantiae review of the court below Appeal by way of re-hearing or pure appeal (aka appeal stricto sensu); the scope is limited to errors of law and no new factual findings are possible; the case is traditionally remitted to the originating court below for re-judgment. (vs. novum iudicium)
salva rei substantia the thing's substance intact Limitation on how a fiduciary can use the fideicommissary assets; ultimately they must maintain their essential quality until transferred to the fideicommissary.[19] Plural salva rerum substantia. See fideicommissum.
servitus servitude, subjugation Servitude, i.e. an easement. Plural servitutes.
si sine liberis decesserit if (he) should depart without children Certain type of clause in a will creating a fideicommissum by imposing a condition on the will beneficiary that if (s)he dies childless, the testamentary gift will transfer to a third party. Ex: If A dies childless after my death, the farm must go to B.[19] See fideicommissum.
solarium area exposed to sunlight Ground rent for a surface right or estate (superficies).
solutio indebiti performance of something not due Undue performance or payment, obliging the enrichee (accipiens) to return the undue payment or compensate the impoverishee (solvens) for the undue performance
specificatio Specification, i.e. mode of acquisition by creation wherein something new is made by adding labor (manufacturing) to property, and the non-reducible parts used for its fabrication lose their identity (vs. accessio, commixtio). The new thing is called nova species.
spei emptio, emptio spei sale of hope Sale of a chance, hope, or expectancy
spes futurae actionis hope of future action Future or contingent right of action
spes successionis hope of succession Expectancy (of heirship)
spoliatio plundering Spoliation, i.e. act of unlawful dispossession of corporeal property. Parties:
  • spoliatus - aggrieved party
  • spoliator - dispossessor
stante matrimonio During the marriage
stipulatio alteri another's (contractual) provision Third-party contract. Also known as pactum in favorem tertii (German-law-based systems). The parties are:
superficies surface Surface right, surface estate. Parties:
  • dominus soli 'subsurface owner, mineral owner'
  • superficiarius 'surface owner'
tantum et tale thus and such (Scots law) "as is", to disclaim implied warranties, as in to purchase or convey something tantum et tale.
transactio transaction Out-of-court settlement
tutela guardianship Tutorship, i.e. legal guardianship under which the ward is only partially or temporarily incapable. Compare cura. Parties are
  • pupillus - ward
  • tutor - guardian
Unus testis, nullus testis one witness, no witness The uncorroborated testimony of one witness should be discounted because it is deemed to be too unreliable to establish a fact
uno contextu single joining together Contemporaneously; when the phases of something are done without interruption or any intervening action; specifically, executed in one single execution ceremony (vs. ex intervalo temporis)
usucapio seizure of use Acquisitive prescription, i.e. the civilian equivalent of adverse possession. Also called 'prescription acquirendi causa'.
usufructus use-fruit Civilian equivalent of a life estate. Parties:
  • nudus dominus 'bare owner' (= remainderman, reversioner)
  • usufructuarius 'usufructuary' (= life tenant)
via executoria executorial way Non-judicial foreclosure under a power of sale clause in a mortgage; more broadly, any non-judicial remedy empowered under a contractual clause or some other instrument
via iure way of law Using the courts and the justice system (opposite of self-help)
vinculum iuris the chain of the law A legal bond, especially the bond tying obligor and obligee in a legal obligation
vis maior superior force Force majeure arising from an act of God, i.e. events over which no humans have control, and so cannot be held responsible. Compare casus fortuitus (see above).
vitium in contrahendo vice in contracting Vitiating factor in the formation of a contract, e.g. mistake (error), misrepresentation (dolus), and duress (metus).
voluntatis declaratio Declaration of will, manifestation of intent(ion)

Ecclesiastical law[edit]

Term or phrase Definition and use
advocatus diaboli Official who argues against an individual's beatification
ebdomadarius Person in a cathedral who supervises regular performance of religious services and assigns duties of choir members
eleemosynae Possessions of the church
embryo formatus Human embryo "organized into human shape and endowed with a soul"[20]
embryo informatus Human embryo before endowment with a soul[21]
episcoporum ecidicus church lawyer
episcopus puerorum "bishop of the boys"; a layperson who on some feastdays braided his hair, dressed as a bishop and acted in a "ludicrous" manner[20]
excommunicato capiendo Writ originally issued from chancery that required a sheriff to arrest and imprison an excommunicant defendant
excommunicato recapiendo Writ ordering excommunicant imprisoned for "obstinancy" be re-imprisoned if freed before agreeing to obey authority of church
Extravagantes Papal constitutions and decretal epistles of Pope John XXII
formata Canonical letters
gardianus ecclesiae Churchwarden
legit vel non "Does he read or not?"; this question was asked to church officials by secular courts when an accused defendant claimed a jurisdictional exemption under benefit of the clergy and if the church accepted the claim the official would reply legit ut clericus ("he reads like a clerk")

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Yogis, John (1995). Canadian Law Dictionary (4th ed.). Barron's Education Series.
  2. ^ "Actio non datur non damnificato". 22 September 2019.
  3. ^ "Actus non Facit Reum Nisi Mens Sit Rea - Analysis - Law Corner". 17 July 2021.
  4. ^ Law, Jonathan; Martin, Elizabeth A. (2009). "ad colligenda bona". Oxford Reference (2014 ed.). Oxford University Press. Retrieved 2022-04-11.
  5. ^ Black's Law Dictionary (11th ed.). 2019.
  6. ^ Gordon v. Steele, 376 F. Supp. 575, 577–78 (W.D. Pa. 1974) ("The fact of residency must be coupled with a finding of intent to remain indefinitely")(quoting Gallagher v. Philadelphia Transp. Co., 185 F.2d 543, 546 (3d Cir. 1950))
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h Benson, Marjorie L; Bowden, Marie-Ann; Newman, Dwight (2008). Understanding Property: A Guide (2nd ed.). Thomson Carswell.
  8. ^ "Animus testandi". Merriam Webster. Retrieved February 11, 2021.
  9. ^ A Selection of Legal Maxims, classified and illustrated, p. 151, at Google Books
  10. ^ a b c d e f g Willes, John A; Willes, John H (2012). Contemporary Canadian Business Law: Principles and Cases (9th ed.). McGraw-Hill Ryerson.
  11. ^ Fellmeth, Aaron X.; Horwit, Maurice (2009). Guide to Latin in International Law. Oxford University Press. p. 76. ISBN 9780195369380. Retrieved 23 August 2021.
  12. ^ Cases Illustrating the Principles of the Laws of Torts, p. 476, at Google Books
  13. ^ Foëx, Benedict (2017). "Intro. aux art. 641–645 CC". Commentaire romand, Code civil II (in French). Basel: Helbing Lichtenhahn. p. 1110.
  14. ^ O'Hara v State, 448 So.2d 524, 529 (District Court of Appeal of Florida, Fifth District 1984) ("(Footnote [13]) Ubi eadem ratio ibi; idem jus; et de similibus idem est judicium. Where there is the same reason, there is the same law; and where there are similar situations, the judgment is the same.").
  15. ^ A Selection of Legal Maxims: Classified and Illustrated, p. 64, at Google Books
  16. ^ . doi:10.1093/oi/authority.20110803110448446 (inactive 2024-04-05). {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help); Missing or empty |title= (help)CS1 maint: DOI inactive as of April 2024 (link)
  17. ^ Hanna, Heather Jane; Harding, Alan G. (2008). "Ubi Jus Ibi Remedium - for the Violation of Every Right, There Must be a Remedy: The Supreme Court's Refusal to Use the Bivens Remedy in Wilkie v. Robbins". Wyoming Law Review. 8: 193–229. doi:10.59643/1942-9916.1167.
  18. ^ Thomas, Tracy (November 2004). "Ubi Jus, Ibi Remedium: The Fundamental Right to a Remedy Under Due Process". San Diego Law Review. 41 (4): 1633.
  19. ^ a b c M.J. de Waal, 'The Law of Succession', in Introduction to the Law of South Africa, eds. C. G. van der Merwe & Jacques E. du Plessis (The Hague: Kluwer Law International, 2004), 183–5.
  20. ^ a b Black's Law Dictionary, 9th edition
  21. ^ The distinction between embryo formatus and embryo informatus is first accepted around the year 1140 by Gratian in Decretum Gratiani where he writes that abortion is not murder if the soul of the fetus had not yet been endowed (informatus). This had previously been rejected by early church doctrines. By the 16th century the time of formatus was accepted as the 40th day after conception for a male fetus and the 80th day for a female fetus. However, informed by modern science of embryo development, the Church now recognizes these assumptions be erroneous.


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