Important Legal terms and maxims for Law Students, Law entrance exams and Judicial exams – Basic

Legal Maxims are established principles or propositions of law. They are usually stated in Latin and most of them originated in Medieval Europe. These principles help and guide the courts all over the world to apply the existing laws in a just manner. One must note that though these principles are universally accepted, they lack the force of law. However, courts often use these maxims to decide on issues and base their judgements on.

These maxims are often used by lawyers in their drafts or form a basis of their arguments. They are often asked in Law entrance exams like CLAT and are also often seen on Judiciary exams. Therefore, it is essential that any aspiring Law student or those applying for Judicial services exams be well versed with these.

Below, we take a look at most frequently used Legal terms and Maxims and their basic meaning. For more in depth understanding of these maxims, please click here for our more detailed explanation of these maxims. Both these pages are to be updated regularly.

  1. Ab initio – from the  beginning.
  2. Audi Alteram Partem – Listen to the other side/Let the other side be heard as well/No man shall be condemned unheard.
  3. Actus Dei Nemini Injuriam – The law holds no man responsible for the Act of God.
  4. Actio personalis moritur cum persona – A personal right of action dies with the person.
  5. Actori Incubit Onus Probandi – The burden of proof always lies on the Plaintiff.
  6. Alibi – Elsewhere
  7. Actus Reus Non Facit Reum Nisi Mens Sit Rea – An Act does not make anyone guilty unless accompanied by a criminal intent or a guilty mind.
  8. Amicus Curae – A friend of the Court or a member of the Bar who is appointed to assist the court in some legal matter.
  9. Assentio Mentium – Meetings of the minds or mutual assent expressed or implied by both parties to the contract.
  10. Ad Hoc – Created or done for particular purpose as necessary.
  11. Actiones Legis – Law Suits or lawful action.
  12. Actionable per se – Actions that do not require the allegations or proof of additional facts to constitute a cause of action.
  13. Actus Reus – A guilty deed or act.
  14. Ad valorem – According to value.
  15. Animus Possidendi – Intention to possess; Effective possession.
  16. Adjournment Sine Die – To adjourn without setting a day for further meeting or hearing.
  17. Arma in Armatus Sumera Jura Sinut – The laws permit the taking of arms against the armed.
  18. Bona Fide – Genuine, In good faith.
  19. Bona Vacantia – Goods without an apparent owner, vacant goods
  20. Boni Judicis Est Ampliare jurisdictionem – It is the duty of the judge to enlarge/extend its jurisdiction.
  21. Caveat – A warning to consider something before taking any further action.
  22. Caveat Actor – Let the doer be on guard.
  23. Caveat Emptor – Let the buyer beware.
  24. Caveat Venditor – Let the seller beware.
  25. Cassetur Billa – That the bill be quashed.
  26. Ceritoriari – A writ or order by which a Superior court calls for records from a lower court.
  27. Consensus ad idem – Meeting of the minds, Agreement between parties in the same sense and same thing.
  28. Contemporanea expositio est optima etfortissinia in lege – Contemporaneous exposition is the best and strongest in law.
  29. Corpus – Body.
  30. Corpus Delicti – Body of the crime, refers to idea that requisite elements of a crime must be proven before an individual can be tried for a crime.
  31. Conditio Sine Qua Non – An indespendable condition, A condition without which it could not be.
  32. Crimen Omnia Ex Se Nata Vitiat – Crime vitiates everything which springs from it.
  33. Damnum Sine Injuria – Damage incurred without legal injury.
  34. De Die in Diem – From day to day.
  35. De facto – In fact
  36. De Jure – In law, according to rightful entitlement or claim.
  37. De Futuro – In the future.
  38. De minimis – Pertaining to minimal things.
  39. De Minimis Non Curat Lex – The law does not concern itself with trifles.
  40. De Novo – From the beginning, a new.
  41. Donatio Mortis Causa – A gift made by the person because of impending death.
  42. Delegatus Non Potest Delegare – A delegated authority cannot be delegated further.
  43. Debita Sequuntur Personam Debitoris – Debts follow the person of the debtor.
  44. Doli Incapax – Incapable of doing harm or committing crime.
  45. Dominium – Ownership, Control of property.
  46. Detinue – Crime for wrongful detention of goods or personal possessions.
  47. Ei Incumbit Probatio qui dicit, nonqui negat – The burden of proof lies upon the person who affirms, but not he who denies. (Presumption of Innocence).
  48. Ejusdem Generis – Of the same kind.
  49. Estoppel – Prevented from denying.
  50. Ex Gratia – As favour.
  51. Ex Officio – by virtue of office held.
  52. Ex Parte – Proceedings in absence of the other party.
  53. Ex Post Facto – By reason of a subsequent act.
  54. Ex Turpi Causa non Oritur action – No action can arise on illegal act or immoral contract.

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