Here comes an updated list of Latin legal maxims and phrases that can be useful for lawyers or legal students once preparing their essays.


  1. A fortiori-  “With even stronger reason”, which applies to a situation in which if one thing is true then it can be deduced that a second thing is even more certainly true. 
  2. A posteriori-  Relating to or originating by reasoning from the observation of facts.
  3. A priori - From what was before 
  4. Ab extra - From outside 
  5. Ab incunablis - From infancy
  6. Ab initio - From the beginning
  7. Ab intra - From within
  8. Absoluta sentential expositore non indiget - An absolute judgment needs no expositor
  9. Actio personalis moritur cum persona -  A personal action dies with the person
  10. Actiones legis – Law suits
  11. Actori incumbit onus probandi – The burden of proof lies on the plaintiff
  12. Actus nemini facit injuriam – The act of the law does no one wrong
  13. Actus reus – A guilty deed or act
  14. Ad absurdum – To the point of preposterousness
  15. Ad eundem – To the same level
  16. Ad eundem gradum – To the same degree
  17. Ad hoc – For this purpose
  18. Ad hominem – Represents an argument made personally against an opponent, rather than a logical argument against an issue
  19. Ad idem – Of the same mind
  20. Ad infinitum – Forever, without limit
  21. Ad locum – At the place
  22. Ad nauseam – To a repulsive extent
  23. Ad quaestionem facti non respondent judices – The judges do not answer to a question of fact
  24. Ad referendum – Subject to reference
  25. Ad valorem – By the value e.g. ad valorem tax
  26. Addenda – Things to be attached
  27. Addendum – A thing to be attached
  28. Aedificare in tuo proprio solo non licet quod alteri noceat – It is not lawful to build on one’s own land what may be  injurious to another
  29. Aequitas legem sequitur – Equity follows the law
  30. Aequitas nunquam contravenit legem – Equity never contradicts the law
  31. Affidavit – A sworn written statement usable as evidence in court
  32. Agenda – Things to be done
  33. Alibi – At another place, elsewhere
  34. Allegatio contra factum non est admittenda – An allegation contrary to a deed is not to be heard
  35. Alter ego – Other “I” or “Other self”
  36. Ambiguitas contra stipulatorem est – An ambiguity is most strongly construed against the party using it
  37. Amicus curiae – A friend of the Court
  38. Amicus omnibus, amicus nemini – A friend to everyone is a friend to none
  39. Annus horribilis – A horrible year
  40. Annus mirabilis – A fantastic year
  41. Ante – Before
  42. Ante meridiem – Before noon
  43. Arbitrium est judicium – An award is a judgment
  44. Assentio mentium – The meeting of minds, i.e. mutual assent
  45. Assignatus utitur jure auctoris – An assignee is clothed with rights of his assignor
  46. Audi alteram partem – Hear the other side


  1. Bona fide:  Sincere, in good faith
  2. Bona fides: Honest purpose
  3. Bona vacantia: Goods without an owner
  4. Boni judici est ampliare jurisdictionem: It is the part of a good judge to enlarge his jurisdiction.
  5. Boni judicis est judicium sine dilation mandare executioni: It is the duty of a good judge to cause execution to issue on a judgment without delay
  6. Bonus judex secundum aequum et bonum judicat et aequitatem stricto juri praefert: A good judge decides according to justice and right and prefers equity to strict law


  1. Cadit quaestio: The matter admits of no further argument
  2. Causa proxima, non remota spectatur: – The immediate and not the remote cause is to be considered
  3. Caveat emptor: Let the purchaser beware
  4. Caveat venditor: Let the seller beware
  5. Ceteris paribus:  Other things being equal
  6. Circa:  Around
  7. Cogito, ergo sum: I think, therefore I am
  8. Compos mentis:  Stable, lucid, sane
  9. Consensu:  Unanimously or, by general consent
  10. Consensus ad idem: Agreement as to the same things
  11. Contra: – To the contrary
  12. Contra bonos mores:  Against good morals
  13. Contra non valentem agere nulla currit praescriptio: No prescription runs against a person not able to act
  14. Conventio et modus vincunt legem: A contract and agreement overcome the law
  15. Coram non judice: – Before one who is not a judge
  16. Corpus: Body
  17. Corrigenda:  A list of things to be rectified
  18. Corpus delicti: The body, i.e. the gist of crime
  19. Crimen omnia ex se nata vitiat:  Crime vitiates everything, which springs from it.


  1. Damnum sine injuria – Damage without injury.
  2. De facto – In fact.
  3. De jure – By law.
  4. De minimis – About minimal things.
  5. De Minimis Non Curat Lex – The law does not govern trifles (unimportant things) or law ignores insignificant details. Or, A common law principle whereby judges will not sit in judgment of extremely minor transgressions (offence, wrongdoings) of the law.
  6. De novo – To make something anew.
  7. Dictum – Statement of law made by judge in the course of the decision but not necessary to the decision itself.
  8. Doli incapax – Incapable of crime.
  9. Detinue – Tort of wrongfully holding goods which belong to someone else.
  10. Donatio mortis causa – Gift because of death. Or a future gift given in expectation of the donor’s imminent death and only delivered upon the donor’s death.


  1. Estoppel – Prevented from denying.
  2. Ex gratia – As favour.
  3. Ex officio – Because of an office held.
  4. Ex parte – Proceedings in the absence of the other party.
  5. Ex post facto – Out of the aftermath, or After the fact.


  1. Fatum – Beyond human foresight.
  2. Factum probans – Relevant fact.
  3. Fraus est celare fraudem – It is a fraud to conceal a fraud.
  4. Functus officio – No longer having power or jurisdiction.
  5. Furiosi nulla voluntas est – Mentally impaired or mentally incapable persons cannot validly sign a will, contract or form the frame of mind necessary to commit a crime. or a person with mental illness has no free will.


  1. Habeas corpus – A writ to have the body of a person to be brought in before the judge.


  1. Ignorantia juris non excusat – Ignorance of the law excuses not or Ignorance of the law excuses no one.  In other words, A person who is unaware of a law may not escape liability for violating that law merely because one was unaware of its content.
  2. Injuria sine damno – Injury without damage.
  3. Ipso facto – By the mere fact.
  4. In promptu – In readiness.
  5. In lieu of – Instead of.
  6. In personam – A proceeding in which relief I sought against a specific person.
  7. Innuendo – Spoken words which are defamatory because they have a double meaning.
  8. In status quo – In the present state.
  9. Inter alia – Among other things.
  10. Inter vivos – Between living people. (especially of a gift as opposed to a legacy)
  11. Interest Reipublicae Ut Sit Finis Litium – It means it is in the interest of the state that there should be an end to litigation.


  1. Jus cogens or ius cogens – Compelling law.
  2. Jus in personam – Right against a specific person.
  3. Jus in rem – Right against the world at large.
  4. Jus naturale – Natural law. Or in other words, A system of law based on fundamental ideas of right and wrong that is Natural Law.
  5. Jus Necessitatis – It means a person’s right to do what is required for which no threat of legal punishment is a dissuasion. Dissuasion means: the action or process of trying to persuade someone not to take a particular course of action. Question asked by one of you: I have a doubt about the maxim jus necessitatis. Does it come under section 81 or 87 of IPC?Answer: This is called the doctrine of necessity. It means a person doing a thing under compulsion of situation. It is not considered a wrongful act. It comes under the ambit of section 81 of IPC.
  6. Jus non scriptum – Customary law.
  7. Jus scriptum – Written law.
  8. Jus – Law or right.
  9. Justitia nemini neganda est – Justice is to be denied to nobody.
  10. Jus soli – Right of soil.
  11. Jus sanguins – Right of blood or descent.


  1. Lex non a rege est violanda – The law must not be violated even by the king.
  2. Locus standi – Right of a party to an action to appear and be heard by the court.


  1. Mala fide – In bad faith.
  2. Malum in se or Mala in se (plural) – Wrong or evil in itself. Or, Mala in se is ‘A term that signifies crime that is considered wrong in and of itself.’ For Example, Most human beings believe that murder, rape, and theft are wrong, regardless of whether a law governs such conduct or where the conduct occurs and is thus recognizably malum in se.
  3. Malum prohibitum – In a way opposite of Malum in se. It means ‘Crimes are criminal not because they are inherently bad, but because the act is prohibited by the law of the state.’For example, Jurisdiction in India requires drivers to drive on the left side of the road. This is not because driving on the right side of a road is considered immoral, but because the law says to drive on the left side and not on the right side.
  4. Mandamus – ‘We command’. A writ of command issued by a Higher Court to Government/Public Authority, to compel the performance of a public duty.
  5. Mens rea – Guilty mind.
  6. Misnomer – A wrong or inaccurate name or term.
  7. Modus operandi – Way of working.
  8. Modus Vivendi – Way of living.
  9. Mutatis Mutandis – With the necessary changes having been made, or with the respective differences having been considered.


  1. Nemo bis punitur pro eodem delicto – Nobody can be twice punished for the same offence.
  2. Nemo debet bis vexari pro una et eadem causa – It means no man shall be punished twice for the same offence.
  3. Nemo debet esse judex in propria causa or Nemo judex in causa sua or Nemo judex in sua causa – Nobody can be judge in his own case.
  4. Nemo moriturus praesumitur mentire – A man will not meet his maker (God) with a lie in his mouth or in other words ‘No man at the point of death is presumed to lie.’ (This maxim is related to dying declaration)
  5. Nemo Potest esse tenens et dominus – Nobody can be both a landlord and a tenant of the same property.
  6. Nolle prosequi – A formal notice of abandonment by a plaintiff or prosecutor of all or part of a suit.
  7. Novation – Transaction in which a new contact is agreed by all parties to replace an existing contract.
  8. Nunc pro tunc – Now for then. A ruling nunc pro tunc applies retroactively to correct an earlier ruling.
  9. Non Sequitur – A statement (such as a response) that does not follow logically from or is not clearly related to anything previously said.


  1. Obiter dictum – Things said by the way. It is generally used in law to refer to an opinion or non-necessary remark made by a judge. It does not act as a precedent. In other words, Obiter dictum means “that which is said in passing,” an incidental statement. Specifically, in law, it refers to a passage in a judicial opinion which is not necessary for the decision of the case before the court. Such statements lack the force of precedent but may nevertheless be significant. Source: Britannica
  2. Onus probandi – Burden of proof.


  1. Pacta Sunt Servanda – Agreements must be kept. or Agreements are legally binding. In International Agreements it means ‘every treaty in force is binding upon the parties to it and must be performed by them in good faith.’
  2. Pari passu – With an equal step. Read more about it on Wikipedia.
  3. Particeps criminis – A participator in the actual crime/partner in crime.
  4. Per curiam (decision or opinion) – By the court. In other words, The decision is made by the court (or at least, a majority of the court) acting collectively.
  5. Per se – By itself.
  6. Persona non grata – A person who is unacceptable or unwelcome. Opposite of persona non grata is persona grata.Also, In diplomacy, a persona non grata is a foreign person whose entering or remaining in a particular country is prohibited by that country’s government.
  7. Prima facie – At first sight.
  8. Palimony – Money which a man pays to a woman with whom he has been living and from whom he is separated. Palimony has slightly different meanings in different jurisdictions.
  9. Per curiam – By a court.
  10. Per incuriam – Because of lack of care.
  11. Prima facie – On the face of it.


  1. Quantum meruit – What one has earned. or The amount he deserves. In other words, A reasonable sum of money to be paid for services rendered or work done when the amount due is not stipulated (specified, written down) in a legally enforceable contract. Source: Oxford
  2. Qui facit per alium, facit per se – He who acts through another acts himself. In simple words, It is a fundamental legal maxim of the law of agency. It is a maxim often stated in discussing the liability of the employer for the act of employee in terms of vicarious (indirect, secondhand) liability.
  3. Quid pro quo – Something for something.
  4. Qui sentit commodum, sentire debet et onus – It means he who receives advantage must also bear the burden.
  5. Quo warranto – By what authority. A writ calling upon one to show under what authority he holds or claims a public office.


  1. Ratio decidendi – Principle or reason underlying a court judgement. or The rule of law on which a judicial decision is based.
  2. Respondeat superior – Let the master answer. For example, There are circumstances when an employer is liable for acts of employees performed within the course of their employment. This rule is also called the master-servant rule.
  3. Res ipsa loquitor – The thing speaks for itself.
  4. Res Judicata – A matter already judged.
  5. Res Judicata Pro Veritate Accipitur – It means that a judicial decision must be accepted as correct.
  6. Rex non protest peccare – The king can do no wrong.


  1. Salus populi est suprema lex – The welfare of the is the supreme law.
  2. Status quo – State of things as they are now.
  3. Sine die – With no day (indefinitely).
  4. Sine qua non – “without which nothing”. An essential condition. A thing that is absolutely necessary. Basically a component of an argument that, if debunked, causes the entire argument to crumble.
  5. Suo Motu – On its own motion.


  1. Uberrima fides (sometimes uberrimae fidei) – Utmost good faith.
  2. Ubi jus ibi remedium – Where there is a right, there is a remedy.



  1. Veto – Ban or order not to allow something to become law, even if it has been passed by a parliament.
  2. Vice versa – Reverse position.
  3. Vis major – Act of God.
  4. Volenti non fit injuria – Damage suffered by consent gives no cause of action.
  5. In other words, If someone willingly places himself in a position where he knows that harm might result, then he is not able (allowed) to bring a claim against the other party in tort or delict (a violation of the law).
  6. Vox populi – Voice of the people. or The opinion of the majority of the people.


  1. Waiver – Voluntarily giving up or removing the conditions.


Source: Soteris Pittas & Co LLC

Show more
Show less


© Lawyers in Cyprus. All Rights Reserved. Terms & Privacy Policy |