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 "legal Latin" terms, which are wholly or substantially drawn from Latin.


Common law

Term or phraseLiteral translationDefinition and useEnglish pron
a fortiori from strongerAn 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. /ˌfɔːrtiˈr,ˌfɔːrʃiˈr/
a mensa et thoro from table and bedDivorce a mensa et thoro indicates legal separation without legal divorce. /ˌˈmɛnsəɛtˈθr/
a posteriori from laterAn argument derived from subsequent event. /ˌˌpɒstrir/
a priori from earlierAn argument derived from previous event. /ˌprr/
a quofrom whichRegarding a court below in an appeal, either a court of first instance or an appellate court, known as the court a quo. /ˌˈkw/
ab extrafrom outsideConcerning a case, a person may have received some funding from a 3rd party. This funding may have been considered ab extra. /ˌæbˈɛkstrə/
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] /ˌæbɪˈnɪʃi/
absque hoc without this"Presenting the negative portion of a plea when pleading at common by way a special traverse." [1]
actus reus guilty actPart of what proves criminal liability (with mens rea ). /ˌæktəsˈrəs/
ad coelum to the skyAbbreviated 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. /ˌædˈsləm/
ad colligenda bona to collect the goods
ad hoc for thisGenerally signifies a solution designed for a specific problem or task, non-generalizable, and not intended to be able to be adapted to other purposes. /ˌædˈhɒk/
ad hominem at the personAttacking an opponent's character rather than answering his argument. /ˌædˈhɒmɪnɛm/
ad idem to the same thingIn agreement. /ˌædˈdəm/
ad infinitum to infinityTo continue forever. /ˌædɪnfɪˈntəm/
ad litem for the caseDescribes those designated to represent parties deemed incapable of representing themselves, such as a child or incapacitated adult. /ˌædˈltɛm/
ad quod damnum according to the harmUsed in tort law. Implies that the reward or penalty ought to correspond to the damage suffered or inflicted.
ad valorem according to value /ˌædvəˈlrɛm/
adjournment sine die adjournment without a dayWhen an assembly adjourns without setting a date for its next meeting. /ˌsniˈdi/
affidavit he has swornA formal statement of fact. /ˌæfɪˈdvɪt/
alter ego another IA second identity living within a person.
amicus curiae friend of the courtA person who offers information to a court regarding a case before it. /əˈmkəsˈkjrii/
animus contrahendicontractual intentIntention to contract.
animus nocendi intention to harmThe subjective state of mind of the author of a crime, with reference to the exact knowledge of illegal content of his 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)" [2]
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 ." [2]
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 faithImplies sincere good intention regardless of outcome. /ˈbnəˈfdi/
bona vacantia ownerless goods
Cadit quaestio the question fallsIndicates that a settlement to a dispute or issue has been reached, and the issue is now resolved.
Casus belli case of warThe justification for acts of war. /ˈksəsˈbɛl/
Caveat May he bewareWhen used by itself, refers to a qualification, or warning.
Caveat emptor Let the buyer bewareIn 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. /ˈkæviætˈɛmptɔːr/
Certiorari to be apprisedA type of writ seeking judicial review. /ˌsɜːrʃiəˈrr,ˌsɜːrʃiəˈrri/
Ceteris paribus with other things the sameMore commonly rendered in English as "All other things being equal." /ˌsɛtərɪsˈpærɪbəs/
compos mentis having command of mindOf sound mind. Also used in the negative "Non compos mentis", meaning "Not of sound mind". /ˈkɒmpɒsˈmɛntɪs/
condicio sine qua non A condition without which it could not beAn indispensable and essential action, condition, or ingredient.
consensus ad idem agreement to the sameMeeting 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 [3] Also consensus in idem.
contra againstUsed in case citations to indicate that the cited source directly contradicts the point being made.
contra legem against the lawUsed when a court or tribunal hands down a decision that is contrary to the laws of the governing state.
contradictio in adjecto contradiction in itselfA contradiction between parts of an argument.
contra proferentem against the one bringing forthUsed 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 judgeRefers to a legal proceeding without a judge, or with a judge who does not have proper jurisdiction.
corpus delicti body of the crimeA person cannot be convicted of a crime, unless it can be proven that the crime was even committed. /ˈkɔːrpəsdɪˈlɪkt/
corpus juris body of lawThe complete collection of laws of a particular jurisdiction or court. /ˈkɔːrpəsˈrɪs/
corpus juris civilis body of civil lawThe complete collection of civil laws of a particular jurisdiction or court. Also sometimes used to refer to the Code of Justinian. /ˈkɔːrpəsˈrɪssɪˈvlɪs/
corpus juris gentium body of the law of nationsThe 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 considerSignifies the intent of a court to consider the points of law argued during advocacy, prior to judgement.
de bonis asportatis carrying goods awaySpecifies that larceny was taking place in addition to any other crime named. E.g. "trespass de bonis asportatis".
debellatio warring downComplete annihilation of a warring party, bringing about the end of the conflict.
de bonis non administratis of goods not administeredAssets 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 dayGenerally refers to a type of labor in which the worker is paid fully at the completion of each day's work.
de facto in factLiterally "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 futureAt a future date.
de integro concerning the wholeOften used to mean "start it all over", in the context of "repeat de integro".
de jure according to lawLiterally "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 beUsed in the context of "how the law should be", such as for proposed legislation.
de lege lata of the law as it isConcerning the law as it exists, without consideration of how things should be.
de minimis about the smallest thingsVarious legal areas concerning small amounts or small degrees.
de mortuis nil nisi bonum Of the dead, [speak] nothing unless goodSocial convention that it is inappropriate to speak ill of the recently deceased, even if they were an enemy.
de novo anewOften used in the context of "trial de novo" a new trial ordered when the previous one failed to reach a conclusion.
deorum injuriae diis curaeThe gods take care of injuries to the gods Blasphemy is a crime against the State, rather than against God.
dictum (thing) saidA statement given some weight or consideration due to the respect given the person making it.
doli incapax incapable of guiltPresumption that young children or persons with diminished mental capacity cannot form the intent to commit a crime.
dolus specialis Specific deceitHeavily used in the context of genocide in international law.
domitae naturaetame by natureTame or domesticated animal. Also called mansuetae naturae. Opposite of ferae naturae (below)
donatio mortis causa deathbed giftGift 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." [2]
dramatis personae persons of the drama
duces tecum bring with youA "subpoena duces tecum" is a summons to produce physical evidence for a trial.
ejusdem generis of the same classKnown 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 allRefers to rights or obligations that are owed towards all.
ergo therefore
erratum having been made in error
et al. and othersAbbreviation of et alii, meaning "and others".
et cetera and other thingsGenerally used in the sense of "and so forth".
et seq. and the following thingsAbbreviation 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 wifeUsually used instead of naming a man's wife as a party in a case. /ˌɛtˈʌksɔːr/
et vir and husbandUsually used instead of naming a woman's husband as a party in a case. /ˌɛtˈvɜːr/
ex aequo et bono of equity and [the] goodUsually 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 beforeEssentially meaning "before the event", usually used when forecasting future events. /ˌɛksˈænti/
ex cathedra from the chairWhere chair refers to authority or position. Authority derived from one's position.
ex concessis from what has been conceded alreadyAlso known as "argument from commitment", a type of valid ad hominem argument.
ex delicto from a transgressionThe consequence of a crime or tort.
ex demissione from a transgressionpart of the title of the old action of ejectment
Jones v. Doe ex dem. Smith
ex facie on the faceIf 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 favorSomething done voluntarily and with no expectation of a legal liability arising therefrom.
ex officio from the officeSomething done or realized by the fact of holding an office or position.
ex parte from [for] one partyA decision reached, or case brought, by or for one party without the other party being present.
ex post from afterBased on knowledge of the past.
ex post facto from a thing done afterwardCommonly 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 motionCommonly 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").
exempli gratia for the sake of exampleUsually abbreviated "e.g.".
ex tunc from thenTerm used in contract law to specify terms that are voided or confirmed in effect from the execution of the contract. Cf. ex nunc .
ex nunc from now onTerm 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 existingRefers to things that are currently existing at a given point, rather than things that are no longer so.
factum deed1. 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.
facio ut facias I do, that you may doA 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.
favor contractus favor of the contractA concept in treaty law that prefers the maintaining of a contract over letting it expire for purely procedural reasons.
felo de se felon of himselfA 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 natureWild 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 presumptionWhen 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 forumA concept wherein a court refuses to hear a particular matter, citing a more appropriate forum for the issue to be decided. /ˈfrəmnɒnkənˈvniɛnz/
fumus boni iuris smoke of a good rightRefers to having a sufficient legal basis to bring legal action.
functus officio having performed his officeA person, court, statute, or legal document that has no legal authority, because its original legal purpose has been fulfilled.
gravamen things weighing downThe basic element or complaint of a lawsuit. /ɡrəˈvmɛn/
guardian ad litem guardian for the caseAn 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. /ˈhbiəsˈkɔːrpəs/
hostis humani generis enemy of the human raceA 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 absenceA 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 mortisat the moment of deathOften used in probate law, as well as for testimony in the sense of a dying declaration.
in camera in the chamberConducted in private, or in secret. The opposite of in open court.
in curia in courtConducted in open court. The opposite of in camera .
in esse in existenceActually existing in reality. Opposite of in posse .
in extenso in the extendedIn 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 extremeIn extreme circumstances. Often used to refer to "at the point of death."
in flagrante delicto in blazing offenseCaught 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 pauperSomeone 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. /ɪnˌfɔːrməˈpɔːpərɪs/
in futuro in the futureRefers 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. /ɪnfjˈtjr/
in haec verba in these wordsUsed 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 thresholdA 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 parentUsed 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. /ɪnˌlkpəˈrɛntɪs/
in mitius in the milderA type of retroactive law that decriminalizes offenses committed in the past. Also known as an amnesty law.
in omnibus in allUsed to mean "in every respect." Something applying to every aspect of a situation.
in pari delicto in equal offenseUsed when both parties to a case are equally at fault.
in pari materia in the same matterRefers 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 personUsed 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 prope persona on one's own personOne who represents themselves in court without the [official] assistance of an attorney.
in propria persona in one's own proper personAlternate form of in prope persona. 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). /ɪnˈr/
in rem about a thingUsed in the context of a case against property, as opposed to a particular person. See also in rem jurisdiction. Cf. in personam . /ɪnˈrɛm/
in situ in positionOften used in the context of decisions or rulings about a property or thing "left in place" after the case as it was before. /ɪnˈstj,ɪnˈsɪtj/
in terrorem in order to frightenA 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 /ɪnˈtt/
indicia indicationsOften used in copyright notices. Refers to distinctive markings that identify a piece of intellectual property.
infra below or under
innuendo by noddingAn 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 othersUsed to indicate an item cited has been pulled from a larger or more complete list. /ˌɪntərˈliə/
inter rusticos among rusticsRefers to contract, debts, or other agreements made between parties who are not legal professionals.
inter se amongst themselvesRefers to obligations between members of the same group or party, differentiated from the whole party's obligations to another party.
inter vivos between the livingRefers 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. /ˌɪntərˈvvɒs/
intra within
intra fauces terrae within the jaws of the landThis term refers to a nation's territorial waters.
intra legem within the lawUsed in various contexts to refer to the legal foundation for a thing.
intra vires within the powersSomething 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. /ˈɪpsiˈdɪksɪt/
ipsissima verba the very wordsReferring to a document or ruling that is being quoted by another.
ipso facto by the fact itselfUsed in the context that one event is a direct and immediate consequence of another. "In and of itself." /ˈɪpsˈfækt/
ipso jure the law itself By operation of law.
jurat (He) swearsAppears 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.
jus law, rightEssentially: law.
jus accrescendi right of survivorshipRight 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. [2]
jus ad bellum laws to warRefers 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 lawA codified set of laws concerning citizenry, and how the laws apply to them.
jus cogens compelling lawInternationally 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 warLaws governing the conduct of parties in war.
jus inter gentes law between the peoplesLaws governing treaties and international agreements.
jus naturale natural lawLaws common to all people, that the average person would find reasonable, regardless of their nationality.
jus primae noctis right of the first nightSupposed right of the lord of an estate to take the virginity of women in his estate on their wedding night.
jus sanguinis right of bloodSocial law concept wherein citizenship of a nation is determined by having one or both parents being citizens. /ˈʌsˈsæŋɡwɪnɪs/
jus soli right of soilSocial law concept wherein citizenship of a nation is determined by place of birth. /ˈʌsˈsl/
jus tertii law of the thirdArguments 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.
lacunae void, gapA situation arising that is not covered by any law. Generally used in International Law, as all countries codify according to their own systems of law.
lex communis common lawAlternate form of jus commune. Refers to common facets of civil law that underlie all aspects of the law.
lex forithe law of the country in which an action is brought out
lex lata the law borneThe law as it has been enacted.
lex loci the law of the placeThe 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. /ˈlɛksˈlk/
lex scripta written lawLaw that specifically codifies something, as opposed to common law or customary law.
liberum veto free vetoAn aspect of a unanimous voting system, whereby any member can end discussion on a proposed law.
lingua franca the Frankish languageA 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 pendingRefers 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 pendingOften used in the context of public announcements of legal proceedings to come. Compare pendente lite (below).
locus place
locus delicti place of the crimeShorthand version of Lex locus delcti commissi. The "scene of the crime".
locus in quo the place in whichThe location where a cause of action arose.
locus poenitentiae place of repentanceWhen one party withdraws from a contract before all parties are bound.
locus standi place of standingThe right of a party to appear and be heard before a court. /ˈlkəsˈstænd/
mala fide (in) bad faithA condition of being fraudulent or deceptive in act or belief.
malum in se wrong in itselfSomething considered a universal wrong or evil, regardless of the system of laws in effect.
malum prohibitum prohibited wrongSomething wrong or illegal by virtue of it being expressly prohibited, that might not otherwise be so.
mandamus we commandA 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 seaA body of water under the jurisdiction of a state or nation, to which access is not permitted, or is tightly regulated. /ˈmriˈklɔːzəm/
mare liberum open seaA body of water open to all. Typically a synonym for International Waters, or in other legal parlance, the "High Seas".
mens rea guilty mindOne 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. /ˈmɛnsˈrə/
modus operandi manner of operationA person's particular way of doing things. Used when using behavioral analysis while investigating a crime. Often abbreviated "M.O." /ˈmdəsɒpəˈrænd,ˈmdəsɒpəˈrændi/
mortis causa in contemplation of deathGift or trust that is made in contemplation of death.
mos pro lege custom for lawThat which is the usual custom has the force of law.
motion in limine motion at the startMotions 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 changedA 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 repiblica: "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. /ˈnˈɛksiæt/
Nemo debet bis vexari (pro una et eadem causa)"no-one should be tried twice (in respect to the same matter)"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.
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 unlessA decree that does not enter into force unless some other specified condition is met. /ˈns/
nisi prius unless firstRefers to the court of original jurisdiction in a given matter. /ˈnsˈprəs/
nolle prosequi not to prosecuteA statement from the prosecution that they are voluntarily discontinuing (or will not initiate) prosecution of a matter. /ˈnɒliˈprɒsɪkw/
nolo contendere I do not wish to disputeA type of plea whereby the defendant neither admits nor denies the charge. Commonly interpreted as "No contest." /ˈnlkɒnˈtɛndɪri/
non adimpleti contractus of a non-completed contractIn 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] mindNot 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 is 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 verdictA circumstance where the judge may override the jury verdict and reverse or modify the decision.
novus actus interveniens a new action coming betweenA break in causation (and therefore probably liability) because something else has happened to remove the causal link.
noscitur a sociis It is known by friends.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 wellA term used to direct the reader to cautionary or qualifying statements for the main text.
nudum pactum naked promiseAn unenforceable promise, due to the absence of consideration or value exchanged for the promise.
nulla bona no goodsNotation made when a defendant has no tangible property available to be seized in order to comply with a judgement.
nunc pro tunc now for thenAn action by a court to correct a previous procedural or clerical error.
obiter dictum a thing said in passingIn 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.
pace with peaceUsed 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 faultUsed when both parties to a dispute are at fault.
parens patriae parent of the nationRefers to the power of the State to act as parent to a child when the legal parents are unable or unwilling.
pari passuon equal footingEqual ranking, equal priority (usually referring to creditors).
pendente lite while the litigation is pendingCourt 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 headDividing money up strictly and equally according to the number of beneficiaries
per contra by that againstLegal shorthand for "in contrast to".
per curiam through the courtA 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. /ˌpɜːrˈkjriæm/
per incuriam by their neglectA judgement given without reference to precedent.
per minas through threatsUsed as a defense, when illegal acts were performed under duress.
per proxima amici by or through the next friendEmployed 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 whichUsed 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 itselfSomething that is, as a matter of law.
per stirpes by branchAn 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 delayA condition given to support requests for urgent action, such as a protective order or restraining order.
persona non grata unwelcome personA 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. /pərˈsnənɒnˈɡrɑːtə,pərˈsnənɒnˈɡrtə/
posse comitatus power of the countyA body of armed citizens pressed into service by legal authority, to keep the peace or pursue a fugitive. /ˈpɒsiˌkɒmɪˈttəs/
post hoc ergo propter hoc after this, therefore because of thisA logical fallacy that suggests that an action causes an effect simply because the action occurred before the effect.
post mortem after deathRefers to an autopsy, or as a qualification as to when some event occurred.
post mortem auctoris after the author's deathUsed in reference to intellectual property rights, which usually are based around the author's lifetime.
praetor peregrinus magistrate of foreignersThe Roman praetor (magistrate) responsible for matters involving non-Romans.
prima facie at first faceA matter that appears to be sufficiently based in the evidence as to be considered true. /ˈprməˈfʃii/
pro bono for goodProfessional work done for free. /ˈprˈbn/
pro bono publico for the public good /ˈprˈbnˈpʌblɪk/
pro forma as a matter of formThings done as formalities.
pro hac vice for this turnRefers 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 rateA 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 himselfRepresenting oneself, without counsel. Also known as pro per representation. /ˌprˈs,ˌprˈs/
pro tanto for so muchA 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 beingSomething, such as an office held, that is temporary.
propria persona proper personRefers to one representing themselves without the services of a lawyer. Also known as pro per representation.
qua which; asIn the capacity of.
quaeritur It is sought.The question is raised. Used to declare that a question is being asked in the following verbiage.
quaere queryUsed 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 [3] 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. [3]

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. [3]

quantum valebant as much as they were worthUnder 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; [3] in the case of contract remedy, quantum valebant is being used less, and could be considered obsolete.
quasi as ifResembling 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 thatAn equal exchange of goods or services, or of money (or other consideration of equal value) for some goods or services.
quo ante as beforeReturning to a specific state of affairs which preceded some defined action.
quo warranto by what warrantA 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 thisUsed 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 ReginaKing or Queen. In British cases, will see R v Freeman meaning Regina against Freeman. Changes with King or Queen on throne at time.
ratio decidendi reason for the decisionThe point in a legal proceeding, or the legal precedent so involved, which led to the final decision being what it was.
ratio scripta written reasonThe 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." [2]
rebus sic stantibus things thus standingA qualification in a treaty or contract, that allows for nullification in the event fundamental circumstances change.
reddendo singula singulis referring solely to the lastThe 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 allProperty 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. [2]
res gestae things doneDiffering 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 judgedA matter that has been finally adjudicated, meaning no further appeals or legal actions by the involved parties is now possible. /ˈrzdɪˈktə,ˈrz,dɪˈkɑːtə/
res nullius nobody's thingOwnerless property or goods. Such property or goods are able and subject to being owned by anybody.
res publica public affairAll 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 magnatesDefamation against a peer in British law. Now repealed as a specific offense.
scienter knowinglyUsed 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-defenseThe act of defending one's own person or property, or the well-being or property of another.
seriatim in seriesDescribes 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 dayUsed when the court is adjourning without specifying a date to re-convene. See also adjournment sine die.
sine qua non without which, nothingRefers to some essential event or action, without which there can be no specified consequence.
situs the placeUsed 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] decidedThe obligation of a judge to stand by a prior precedent. /ˈstridɪˈssɪs/
status quo
status quo ante
statu quo
the state in whichIn 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." [3]
stratum a covering, from neuter past participle of sternere, to spread1) In property law, condominiums has said to occupy stratum many stories about the ground. [2]
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 accordSome 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 judgeRefers to a matter currently being considered by the court.
sub modo subject to modificationTerm 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 nameAbbreviated 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 silenceA 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 penaltyA 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 witnessedAn order compelling an entity to give oral testimony in a legal matter.
subpoena duces tecum bring with you under penaltyAn order compelling an entity to produce physical evidence or witness in a legal matter.
suggestio falsi false suggestionA false statement made in the negotiation of a contract.
sui generis of its own kind/genusSomething that is unique amongst a group.
sui juris of his own rightRefers to one legally competent to manage his own affairs. Also spelled sui iuris.
suo motu of its own motionRefers 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 fromA 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 truthWillful 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 aboveUsed in citations to refer to a previously cited source.
terra nullius no one's landLand that has never been part of a sovereign state, or land which a sovereign state has relinquished claim to.
trial de novo trial anewA 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 needRefers to a threefold tax levied on Anglo-Saxon citizens to cover roads, buildings, and the military.
uberrima fides most abundant faithConcept in contract law specifying that all parties must act with the utmost good faith.
ultra vires beyond the powersAn act that requires legal authority to perform, but which is done without obtaining that authority.
universitas personarumtotality of peopleAggregate of people, body corporate, as in a college, corporation, or state
universitas rerumtotality of thingsAggregate of things.
uno flatu in one breathUsed 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 possessAncient 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 wifeUsed in documents in place of the wife's name. Usually abbreviated et ux .
vel non or notUsed when considering whether some event or situation is either present or it is not.
veto I forbid.The power of an executive to prevent an action, especially the enactment of legislation.
vice versa the other way aroundSomething that is the same either way.
vide seeUsed 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.

Civil law

Term or phraseLiteral translationDefinition and useEnglish pron
accessiosomething 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 negotiibusiness incidentalsExpress 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.
ad quantitatemby the quantityitemized, e.g. sale ad quantitatem = item sale (e.g. 100 carp, 10,000 lbs. of sugar, 10 casks of corn) (vs. per aversionem)
aditio hereditatishereditary approachEntering into the inheritance, i.e. vesting of the inheritance in an heir or will beneficiary. See delatio hereditatis.
casus fortuitusfortuitous event Force majeure arising from a man-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 restituendoguarantee to reinstateSecurity or guarantee that heirs must provide in a case where an absent person's estate is divided among them (insurance law)
cessioyielding Assignment, that is, the transfer of rights or benefits.
collatio bonorumbringing together of goods Hotchpot. Also called collatio inter liberos (Scots law).
commixtiocomminglingConfusion, 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)
commodatumaccommodationLoan 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 bonorumcommunity of goodsThe aggregate of marital property (or marital estate) under a community property matrimonial regime.
compensatiobalancing of accounts Set-off. Type: compensatio lucri cum damno - set-off of profit and loss
compensatio moraebalance of delayDelay in payment or performance on the part of both the debtor and the creditor.
confusiomelting togetherMerger of counterparty rights in the same person (e.g. debtor-creditor, buyer-seller, landlord-tenant, etc.), thereby extinguishing an obligation or right. Adverb: confusione.
conjunctissimusthe most joined Next-of-kin. Plural conjunctissimi.
contra bonos mores against good moralsContracts so made are generally illegal and unenforceable.
culpaguiltUnintentional negligence (in tort). Degrees:
  • culpa lata - gross negligence
  • culpa levis - ordinary negligence
  • culpa levissima - slight negligence
cum beneficio inventariiunder benefit of inventoryAs 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 onerewith burdens(Louisiana law) as encumbered, i.e. alienated with the encumbrances running with the land.
curaguardianshipCuratorship, i.e. legal guardianship under which the ward is totally and permanently incapable. Compare tutela. Parties are:
  • curandus - ward
  • curator - guardian (see below)
curatorguardianGuardian 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 emergensemergent lossLoss actually incurred because of a contractual breach
damnum et interessedamage and interestsTortious damages, damages in tort
data certacertain dateFixed effective date of a contract, i.e. one that cannot be ante- or post-dated
datio in solutumgiving in paymentSpecies 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 hereditatishereditary transferralFalling 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 solidumplural, joint and several ownership Joint tenancy.
dominium pro parte pro indivisounpartitioned and undivided ownership Tenancy in common. Also known as communio pro partibus indivisis.
dominus litismaster of the caseLitigant, the client in a lawsuit, as opposed to the lawyer.
error in iudicandoerror in judgment (in court)Error of fact and reasoning (vs. error in procedendo)
error in procedendoprocedural error (in court)Error on a point of law or procedure (vs. error in iudicando)
essentalia negotiibusiness essentialsExpress 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 temporisNot all at once, in parts (vs. uno contextu).
ex propriis sensibuswith one's own sensesUsed for firsthand testimony, e.g. testimony ex propriis sensibus (vs. per relationem).
falsus procuratorfake agentAgent de son tort, officious agent
fideicommissumentrusting 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. [4]
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. [2] (vs. fructus naturales, see below).
fructus naturales natural fruitsVegetation naturally growing from old roots (as pasturage) or from trees (as timber or fruit) (vs. fructus industriales, see above).
hereditas iacenslying inheritanceEstate of inheritance before vesting in heirs
heresHeir. Plural heredes. Types:
  • heredes proximi - closest heirs
  • sui heredes necessarii - forced heirs (singular suus heres necessarius)
hypotheca Mortgage
in casuin the caseIn the instant case; used when referring to the matter before the court in a case being discussed
in solidumfor 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.
inaedificatiobuildingAttachment of movables to land, accession by building
incapaxincapable(Scots law) person not having capacity (mental, legal, or otherwise).[ɪnˈkapaks]
indignus (heres)unworthy heirUnworthy 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.
infansinfant(Roman-Dutch law) child of 7 years or younger and who therefore has very limited legal capacity. Plural infantes.[ˈinˌfanz]
invecta et illatabrought in and carried outTenant's things brought into the leased premises for his/her temporary use
iudex ad quemAppellate court or court of last resort (vs. iudex a quo)
iudex a quoLower court from which an appeal originates; originating court (vs. iudex ad quem)
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 lawNot 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 persequendiright of followingRight 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 praeferendiright of preferringPriority right or preferential right, i.e. a creditor's right to rank higher relative to another
ius quaesitum tertioright to third-party reliefRight of a third-party beneficiary to sue in order to enforce a third-party contract, i.e. the opposite of privity of contract.
ius retentionisright of retaining Lien (possessory)
laesio enormis unusual injuryLesion beyond moiety, i.e. excessive loss or injury used as grounds for setting aside a contract; sold for less than half its value or purchased for more than double
lex commissoriacancelling lawForfeiture 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 causaliberating causeAs in ‘prescription liberandi causa’, i.e. liberative prescription (aka extinctive prescription), which is the civilian equivalent of a statutory limitation period.
locatio conductioleasing (and) hiringHire 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 cessansceasing profitProspective damages or loss of profits that would, because of the contractual breach, have been made in the future
mandatummandateBilateral agreement for direct representation between a principal and agent. Compare procuratio. Parties:
  • mandatarius ‘agent’
  • mandator ‘principal’
monstrummonsterChild born with severe deformities. Plural monstra.
mora accipiendidelay of the one receivingDelay in payment or performance in the part of the creditor or obligor. Also known as mora creditoris.
mora solvendidelay of the one payingDelay 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 negotiibusiness naturalsExpress 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 permissionPeacefully, openly, and with the intention to acquire ownership; applies to acquisitive prescription
negotiorum gestio management of affairsQuasi-contractual obligation arising from good works affecting other people, obliging the benefited party (dominus negotii) to reimburse the gestor for the cost that was used in doing good works.
non bis in idem not twice in the sameProhibition against double jeopardy. A legal action cannot be brought twice for the same act or offense.[nɔnbisinidɛm]
novum iudiciumnew judgmentAppeal 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 praeceptumnaked preceptIf 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 contrahendoagreement to contractPrior 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 cedendoagreement to not yieldAnti-assignment clause
pactum de non petendo (in anticipando)agreement to not sueAgreement in which one party agrees not to sue the other.
pactum de retrovendendoagreement to sell backContract of sale with right of repurchase
pactum successoriuminheritance agreementBilateral 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 dominiiownership partThe 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 familyThe 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 extraneusoutside penitentIncidental beneficiary or any outside party to a third-party contract (see stipulatio alteri). Plural penitus extranei.
per aversionemby 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 relationemby relation Hearsay; used for secondhand, indirect evidence, e.g. testimony per relationem ‘hearsay testimony’ (vs. ex propriis sensibus). Also called de auditu.
pignuspledgePledge, i.e. a possessory security interest
pleno iureby full rightSelf-executing, without need of a court order or judicial proceedings; with full right or authority. Ex: null pleno iure.
plus quam tolerabilemore than tolerableExcessive, beyond tolerable; in reference to a nuisance or some other violation of neighbor law.
praediumestateLanded 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)
praeemptioprevious purchase Right of first refusal
praesumptiopresumptionLegal presumption. Types:
  • praesumptio iuris tantum - rebuttable presumption
  • praesumptio iuris et de iure - irrebuttable or conclusive presumption
praesumptio innocentiae Presumption of innocence
praesumptio veritatis et solemnitatispresumption of truth and solemnity Presumption of regularity, which attaches to public instruments admissible to prove the truth of their contents.
pretium pro doloribusprice 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)
procuratiomanagement Power of attorney, i.e. a unilateral grant of indirect representation by a principal to an attorney-in-fact. Compare mandatum.
procuratorAgent, 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 liberalesLiberal 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. [3]
revisio prioris instantiaereview of the court belowAppeal 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 substantiathe thing's substance intactLimitation on how a fiduciary can use the fideicommissary assets; ultimately they must maintain their essential quality until transferred to the fideicommissary. [4] Plural salva rerum substantia. See fideicommissum.
servitusservitude, subjugation Servitude, i.e. an easement. Plural servitutes.
si sine liberis decesseritif (he) should depart without childrenCertain 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. [4] See fideicommissum.
solutio indebitiperformance of something not dueUndue 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.
stante matrimonioDuring the marriage
stipulatio alterianother’s (contractual) provisionThird-party contract. Also known as pactum in favorem tertii (Scots law). The parties are:
superficies surfaceSurface right, surface estate. Parties:
  • dominus soli ‘subsurface owner, mineral owner’
  • superficiarius ‘surface owner’
tantum et talethus and such(Scots law) "as is", to disclaim implied warranties, as in to purchase or convey something tantum et tale.
transactiotransactionOut-of-court settlement
tutelaguardianshipTutorship, i.e. legal guardianship under which the ward is only partially or temporarily incapable. Compare cura. Parties are
  • pupillus - ward
  • tutor - guardian
uno contextusingle joining togetherContemporaneously; 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 useAcquisitive prescription, i.e. the civilian version of adverse possession. Also called ‘prescription acquirendi causa’.
usufructus use-fruitCivilian equivalent of a life estate. Parties:
  • nudus dominus ‘bare owner’ (= remainderman, reversioner)
  • usufructuarius ‘usufructuary’ (= life tenant)
via executoriaexecutorial wayNon-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 iureway of lawUsing the courts and the justice system (opposite of self-help)
vinculum iuristhe chain of the lawA legal bond, especially the bond tying obligor and obligee in a legal obligation
vis maiorsuperior 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 contrahendovice in contracting Vitiating factor in the formation of a contract, e.g. mistake, misrepresentation, and duress.
voluntatis declaratioDeclaration of will

Ecclesiastical law

Term or phraseDefinition and use
advocatus diaboliOfficial who argues against an individual's beatification
ebdomadariusPerson in a cathedral who supervises regular performance of religious services and assigns duties of choir members
eleemosynaePossessions of the church
embryo formatusHuman embryo "organized into human shape and endowed with a soul" [5]
embryo informatusHuman embryo before endowment with a soul [6]
episcoporum ecidicuschurch 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 [5]
excommunicato capiendo Writ originally issued from chancery that required a sheriff to arrest and imprison an excommunicant defendant
excommunicato recapiendoWrit ordering excommunicant imprisoned for "obstinancy" be re-imprisoned if freed before agreeing to obey authority of church
ExtravagantesPapal constitutions and decretal epistles of Pope John XXII
formataCanonical letters
gardianus ecclesiaeChurchwarden
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


  1. 1 2 Yogis, John (1995). Canadian Law Dictionary (4th ed.). Barron's Education Series.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Benson, Marjorie L; Bowden, Marie-Ann; Newman, Dwight (2008). Understanding Property: A Guide (2nd ed.). Thomson Carswell.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Willes, John A; Willes, John H (2012). Contemporary Canadian Business Law: Principles and Cases (9th ed.). McGraw-Hill Ryerson.
  4. 1 2 3 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.
  5. 1 2 Black's Law Dictionary, 9th edition
  6. 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.

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