Legal Maxims - Important legal terms to crack law exams
Updated on Dec 13, 2018 - 12:34 p.m. IST by Apratim Chatterjee
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Legal Maxims are the legal terminologies that are essentially asked in a number of law entrance examinations. These legal maxims are a part of Legal Aptitude or Legal Awareness section of almost all major law admission tests including CLATAILET, MH CET Law, SLAT, PU BA LLB, DU LLB, BHU LLB and PU LLB. Careers360 with the help of different legal sources and law exam experts have consolidated a list of legal maxims or the legal terminologies, which will help law aspirants like you in preparing for the law exams, particularly the Legal Awareness (Legal Knowledge) section.

How legal maxims can help in cracking law exams? This is one of the most important and critically logical question, one may have if going through a list of hundreds of legal terminologies at one go. The answer to this question is, Yes! If you read and memorise at least five legal maxims every day, there are chances that you answer most of the questions that may come in the Legal Aptitude section of a law entrance test. Interestingly, the Legal Awareness/Legal Aptitude/Legal Knowledge section covers a major part of the law exam and thus solving a good number of questions from that section will eventually give the test takers an edge over others.

Careers360 brings you a list of over 300 Legal Maxims that will be quite useful to crack the law examinations. The Legal Maxims figuring here have their word-meanings with them which can help you in knowing the exact legal term and its literal definition and connotation.

Law aspirants may note that the list of Legal Maxims is just a selective one and will be updated accordingly.

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Important Legal Maxims for Law Entrance Exams

  1. A vinculo matrimoni– From the bond of matrimony.
  2. Ab extra– From outside.
  3. Ab initio– From the beginning.
  4. Absoluta sententia expositore non indiget– An absolute judgment needs no expositor.
  5. Abundans cautela non nocet– Abundant caution does no harm.
  6. Accessorium non ducit sed sequitur suum principale– An accessory does not draw, but follows its principal.
  7. Accessorius sequitur– One who is an accessory to the crime cannot be guilty of a more serious crime than the principal offender.
  8. Acta exteriora iudicant interiora secreta– Outward acts indicate the inward intent.
  9. Actio non accrevit infra sex annos– The action has not accrued within six years.
  10. Actio non datur non damnificato– An action is not given to one who is not injured.
  11. Actio personalis moritur cum persona– A personal action dies with the person.
  12. Actionable per se – The very act is punishable, no proof of damage in required.
  13. Actiones legis– Law suits.
  14. Actori incumbit onus probandi– The burden of proof lies on the plaintiff.
  15. Actus nemini facit injuriam– The act of the law does no one wrong.
  16. Actus non facit reum nisi mens sit rea– The act does not make one guilty unless there be a criminal intent.
  17. Actus reus– A guilty deed or act.
  18. Ad ea quae frequentius acciduunt jura adaptantur– The laws are adapted to those cases which occur more frequently.
  19. Ad hoc– For this purpose.
  20. Ad infinitum– Forever, without limit, to infinity.
  21. Ad perpetuam rei memoriam– For a perpetual memorial of the matter.
  22. Ad quaestionem facti non respondent judices; ad quaestionem legis non respondent juratores– The judges do not answer to a question of fact; the jury do not answer to a question of Law.
  23. 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.
  24. Aequitas legem sequitur – Equity follows the law.
  25. Aequitas nunquam contravenit legem – Equity never contradicts the law.
  26. Alibi– At another place, elsewhere.
  27. Alienatio rei praefertur juri accrescendi – Alienation is preferred by law rather than accumulation.
  28. Aliunde– From elsewhere, or, from a different source
  29. Allegans contraria non est audiendus – One making contradictory statements is not to be heard.
  30. Allegans suam turpitudinem non est audiendus – One alleging his own infamy is not to be heard.
  31. Allegatio contra factum non est admittenda – An allegation contrary to a deed is not to be heard.
  32. Alter ego – A second identity living within a person.
  33. Ambiguitas contra stipulatorem est – An ambiguity is most strongly construed against the party using it.
  34. Ambiguitas verborum patens nulla verificatione excluditur – A patent ambiguity is never helped by averment.
  35. Amicus curiae – A friend of the Court.
  36. Angliae jura in omni casu libertati dant favorem – The laws of England are favorable in every case to liberty.
  37. Animo furandi – With an intention of stealing.
  38. Animo testandi – With an intention of making a will.
  39. Annus luctus – The year of mourning.
  40. Ante – Before.
  41. Aqua currit et debet currere, ut currere solebat – Water runs and ought to run.
  42. Arbitrium est judicium– An award is a judgment.
  43. Arbor dum crescit; lignum cum crescere nescit – A tree while it grows, wood when it cannot grow.
  44. Argumentum ab auctoritate fortissimum est in lege – An argument drawn from authority is the strongest in law.
  45. Argumentum ab impossibilii plurimum valet in lege – An argument from impossibility is very strong in law.
  46. Argumentum ad hominem – An argument directed to a person.
  47. Argumentum ad ignoratiam – An argument based upon ignorance (i.e. of one's adversary).
  48. Arma in armatos sumere jura sinunt – The laws permit the taking up of arms against the armed.
  49. Assentio mentium – The meeting of minds, i.e. mutual assent.
  50. Assignatus utitur jure auctoris – An assignee is clothed with rights of his assignor.
  51. Audi alteram partem– Hear the other side.
  52. Aula regis – The King's Court.
  53. Bona fide – Sincere/In good faith.
  54. Bona vacantia – Goods without an answer.
  55. Boni judicis lites dirimere est – It’s the duty of a good judge to prevent litigation.
  56. Cadit quaestio – The matter admits of no further argument.
  57. Caveat emptor - Let the purchaser beware.
  58. Caveat venditor - Let the seller beware.
  59. Ceteris paribus - Other things being equal.
  60. Consensu – Unanimously/By general consent.
  61. Contra – To the contrary.
  62. Contra bonos mores – Against good morals.
  63. Coram Domino Rege – In the presence of our Lord the King.
  64. Coram non judice - Before one who is not a judge.
  65. Corpus - Body
  66. Corpus deliciti – Body as a proof of crime/The gist of crime.
  67. Custos morum – A guardian of morals.
  68. Damnum sine injuria – Damage without legal injury.
  69. De bonis asportatis – Of goods carried away.
  70. De bonis non administratis – Of goods not administered.
  71. De die in diem – From day to day.
  72. De facto – Existing in fact, however not officially accepted.
  73. De jure – In accordance with the law.
  74. De novo – Starting afresh.
  75. Debile fundamentum fallit opus – Where there is a weak foundation, the work fails.
  76. Debita sequuntur personam debitoria – Debts follow the person of the debtor.
  77. Debitor non praesumitur donare – A debtor is not presumed to make a gift.
  78. Dies Dominicus non est juridicus - Sunday is not a day in law.
  79. Discretio est discernere per legem quid sit justum - Discretion is to discern through law what is just.
  80. Doli incapax - Incapable of crime.
  81. Dominium - Ownership.
  82. Dubitante - Doubting the correctness of the decision.
  83. Duo non possunt in solido unam rem possidere - Two cannot possess one thing each in entirety.
  84. Ei incumbit probatio qui - The onus of proving a fact rests upon the man.
  85. Ei incumbit probatio qui dicit, non qui negat - The burden of the proof lies upon him who affirms, not he who denies.
  86. Error, qui non resistitur approbatur - An error not resisted is approved.
  87. Et cetera - Other things of that type.
  88. Ex cathedra - With official authority.
  89. Ex concessis - In view of what has already been accepted/
  90. Ex dolo malo actio non oritur - A right of action cannot arise out of fraud.
  91. Ex facie - On the fact of it.
  92. Ex gratia - Out of kindness, voluntary.
  93. Ex nihilo nil fit - From nothing nothing comes.
  94. Ex nudo pacto actio non oritur - No action arises on a contract without a consideration.
  95. Ex parte - Proceeding brought by one person in the absence of another.
  96. Ex post facto - By reason of a subsequent act.
  97. Ex turpi causa non oritur actio - No action arises on an immoral contract.
  98. Exceptio probat regulam - An exception proves the rule.
  99. Executio est finis et fructus legis - An execution is the end and the fruit of the law.
  100. Executio legis non habet injuriam - Execution of the law does no injury.
  101. Faciendum - Something which is to be done.
  102. Factum - An act or deed.
  103. Facultas probationum non est angustanda - The right of offering proof is not to be narrowed.
  104. Falsa demonstratio non nocet - A false description does not vitiate.
  105. Fatetur facinus qui judicium fugit - He who flees judgment confesses his guilt.
  106. Felix qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas - Happy is he who has been able to understand the causes of things.
  107. Felonia implicatur in qualibet proditione - Felony is implied in every treason.
  108. Festinatio justitiae est noverca infortunii - The hurrying of justice is the stepmother of misfortune.
  109. Fraus est celare fraudem - It is a fraud to conceal a fraud.
  110. Fraus et jus nunquam cohabitant - Fraud and justice never dwell together.
  111. Fructus naturales - Vegetation which grows naturally without cultivation.
  112. Generale nihil certum implicat - A general expression implies nothing certain.
  113. Generalia praecedunt, specialia sequuntur - Things general precede, things special follow.
  114. Generalia specialibus non derogant - Things general do not derogate from things special.
  115. Generalis regula generaliter est intelligenda - A general rule is to be generally understood.
  116. Id est (i.e) - That is.
  117. Id quod commune est, nostrum esse dicitur - That which is common is said to be ours.
  118. Idem - The same person or thing.
  119. Imperium in imperio - A sovereignty within a sovereignty.
  120. Impotentia excusat legem - Impossibility is an excuse in the law.
  121. Impunitas semper ad deteriora invitat - Impunity always leads to greater crimes.
  122. In aequali jure melior est conditio possidentis - When the parties have equal rights, the condition of the possessor is better.
  123. In camera - In private.
  124. In criminalibus probationes debent esse luce clariores - In criminal cases the proofs ought to be cleared than the light.
  125. In curia domini regis, ipse in propria persona jura discernit - In the King s Court, the King himself in his own person dispenses justice.
  126. In delicto - At fault.
  127. In esse - In existence.
  128. In extenso - At full length.
  129. In fictione legis aequitas existit - A legal fiction is consistent with equity.
  130. In foro conscientiae - In the forum of conscience.
  131. In futoro - In the future.
  132. In limine – On the threshold.
  133. In mortua manu - In a dead hand.
  134. In novo casu novum remedium apponendum est - In a new case a new remedy is to be applied.
  135. In omnibus - In every respect.
  136. In pari delicto potior est conditio possidentis - When the parties are equally in the wrong the condition of the possessor is better.
  137. In personam - Against the person.
  138. In pleno - In full.
  139. In quo quis delinquit in eo de jure est puniendus - In whatever thing one offends in that he is to be punished according to law.
  140. In situ - In its place.
  141. In terrorem - As a warning or deterrent.
  142. Inter vivos – Between living persons.
  143. Indicia - Marks, signs.
  144. Injuria non excusat injuriam - A wrong does not excuse a wrong.
  145. Inter alia - Amongst other things.
  146. Interest reipublicae res judicatas non rescindi - It is in the interest of the State that things adjudged be not rescinded.
  147. Interest reipublicae ut quilibet re sua bene utatur - It is in the interest of the State that every one use properly his own property.
  148. Interest reipublicase ut sit finis litium - It is in the interest of the State that there be an end to litigation.
  149. Interim - Temporary, in the meanwhile.
  150. Interpretare et concordare leges legibus est optimus interpretandi modus - To interpret and harmonize laws is the best method of interpretation.
  151. Invito beneficium non datur - A benefit is not conferred upon one against his consent.
  152. Ipsissima verba - The very words of a speaker.
  153. Ipso facto - By that very fact.
  154. Ira furor brevis est - Anger is brief insanity.
  155. Iter arma leges silent - In war the laws are silent.
  156. Judex est lex loquens - A judge is the law speaking.
  157. Judex non potest esse testis in propira causa - A judge cannot be witness in his own cause.
  158. Judex non potest injuriam sibi datam punire - A judge cannon punish a wrong done to himself.
  159. Judiciis posterioribus fides est adhibenda - Faith must be given to later decisions.
  160. Judicis est judicare secundum allegata et probata - It is the duty of a judge to decide according to the allegations and the proofs.
  161. Judicium non debet esse illusorium, suum effectum habere debet - A judgment ought not to be illusory; it ought to have its proper effect.
  162. Juduces non tenentur exprimere causam sententiae suae - Judges are not bound to explain the reason of their judgment.
  163. Jura naturae sunt immutabilia - The laws of nature are immutable.
  164. Jus - A right that is recognised in law.
  165. Jus cogens – Fundamental principles of International Law.
  166. Jus naturale – Natural law.
  167. Justitia est duplec; severe puniens et vere praeveniens - Justice is two-fold; severely punishing and in reality prohibiting (offences).
  168. Leges posteriores priores contrarias abrogant - Subsequent laws repeal prior conflicting ones.
  169. Legibus sumptis desinentibus legibus naturae utendum est - When laws imposed by the State fail, we must use the laws of nature.
  170. Lex aliquando sequitur aequitatem - The law sometimes follows equity.
  171. Lex citius tolerare vult privatum damnum quam publicum malum - The law would rather tolerate a private injury than a public evil.
  172. Lex dabit remedium - The law will give a remedy.
  173. Lex dilationes abhorret - The law abhors delays.
  174. Lex est judicum tutissimus ductor - The law is the safest guide for judges.
  175. Lex necessitatis est lex temporis i.e. instantis - The law of necessity is the law of time, that is time present.
  176. Lex nil frustra facit - The law does nothing in vain.
  177. Lex non a rege est violanda - The law must not be violated even by the King.
  178. Lex non deficere potest in justitia exhibenda - The law cannot fail in dispensing justice.
  179. Lex non novit patrem, nec matrem; solam veritatem - The law does not know neither father nor mother, only the truth.
  180. Lex non oritur ex injuria - The law does not arise from a mere injury.
  181. Lex non requirit verificari quod apparet curiae - The law does not require that to be proved which is apparent to the Court.
  182. Lex non favet delicatorum votis - The law does not favor the wishes of the dainty.
  183. Lex prospicit not respicit - The law looks forwared, not backward.
  184. Lex punit mendaciam - The law punishes falsehood.
  185. Lex rejicit superflua, pugnatia, incongrua - The law rejects superfluous, contradictory and incongruous things.
  186. Lex spectat naturae ordinem - The law regards the order of nature.
  187. Lex succurrit ignoranti - The law succors the ignorant.
  188. Lex tutissima cassis, sub clypeo legis nemo decipitur - Law is the safest helmet; under the shield of the law no one is deceived.
  189. Lex uno ore omnes alloquitur - The law speaks to all through one mouth.
  190. Longa possessio est pacis jus - Long possession is the law of peace.
  191. Locus Standi – The right or capacity to bring an action or to appear in a court.
  192. Major continet in se minus - The greater contains the less.
  193. Mala fide - In bad faith.
  194. Mala grammatica non vitiat chartam - Bad grammar does not vitiate a deed.
  195. Mala in se - Bad in themselves.
  196. Mala prohibita - Crimes prohibited.
  197. Malitia supplet aesatem - Malice supplies age.
  198. Malo animo - With evil intent.
  199. Mandamus - We command.
  200. Maximus magister erroris populus est - The people are the greatest master of error.
  201. Mens rea - Guilty state of mind.
  202. Mentiri est contra mentem ire - To lie is to act against the mind.
  203. Minatur innocentibus qui parcit nocentibus - He threatens the innocent who spares the guilty.
  204. Mors dicitur ultimum supplicium - Death is called the extreme penalty.
  205. Muilta exercitatione facilius quam regulis percipies - You will perceive many things more easily by experience than by rules.
  206. Nam nemo haeres viventis - For no one is an heir of a living person.
  207. Naturae vis maxima est - The force of nature is the greatest.
  208. Necessitas non habet legem - Necessity has no law.
  209. Necessitas publica est major quam privata - Public necessity is greater than private necessity.
  210. Nemo admittendus est inhabilitare se ipsum - No one is allowed to incapacitate himself.
  211. Nemo bis punitur pro eodem delicto - No one can be twice punished for the same offence.
  212. Nemo contra factum suum venire potest - No man can contradict his own deed.
  213. Nemo debet esse judex in propria causa - No one can be judge in his own case.
  214. Nemo potest esse tenens et dominus - No one can at the same time be a tenant and a landlord (of the same tenement).
  215. Nemo potest facere per alium, quod per se non potest - No one can do through another what he cannot do himself.
  216. Nemo potest mutare consilium suum in alterius injuriam - No one can change his purpose to the injury of another.
  217. Nexus - Connection
  218. Nihil quod est inconveniens est licitum - Nothing inconvenient is lawful.
  219. Nisi - Unless
  220. Non compus mentis - Not of sound mind and understanding
  221. Non constat - It is not certain
  222. Non decipitur qui scit se decipi - He is not deceived who knows that he is deceived.
  223. Non definitur in jure quid sit conatus - What an attempt is, is not defined in law.
  224. Non est factum - It is not his deed
  225. Non est informatus - He is not informed.
  226. Non facias malum ut inde veniat bonum - You shall not do evil that good may come of it.
  227. Non sequitur – An inconsistent statement.
  228. Obiter Dicta – Reason for being a part of the judgement.
  229. Omne sacramentum debet esse de certa scientia - Every oath ought to be of certain knowledge.
  230. Omnia delicta in aperto leviora sunt - All crimes (committed) in the open are (considered) lighter.
  231. Omnia praesumuntur contra spoliatorem - All things are presumed against a wrongdoer.
  232. Optima legum interpres est consuetudo - The best interpreter of laws is custom.
  233. Optimus interpres rerum est usus - The best interpreter of things is usage.
  234. Overrule – Reject or disallow by exercising one's superior authority.
  235. Pacta sund servanada – Treaties are legally binding.
  236. Par delictum - Equal fault.
  237. Pari passu - On an equal footing.
  238. Partus sequitur ventrem - The offspring follows the mother.
  239. Pater est quem nuptiae demonstrant - The father is he whom the marriage points out.
  240. Peccata contra naturam sunt gravissima - Wrongs against nature are the most serious.
  241. Pendente lite nihil innovetur - During litigation nothing should be changed.
  242. Per curiam - In the opinion of the court.
  243. Per minas - By means of menaces or threats.
  244. Per quod - By reason of which.
  245. Persona non-grata – Person not allowed in a country/Person not wanted in a country/Person prohibited in a country.
  246. Post mortem - After death.
  247. Prima facie - On the face of it.
  248. Prima impressionis - On first impression.
  249. Pro hac vice - For this occasion.
  250. Pro rata - In proportion.
  251. Pro tanto - So far, to that extent.
  252. Pro tempore - For the time being.
  253. Publici juris - Of public right.
  254. Quaeitur - The question is raised.
  255. Quantum - How much, an amount.
  256. Qui facit per alium, facit per se - He who acts through another acts himself.
  257. Qui non habet, ille non dat - He who has not, does not give.
  258. Qui non improbat, approbat - He who does not disapprove, approves.
  259. Qui prior est tempore potior est jure - He who is prior in time is stronger in right.
  260. Qui sentit commodum, debet et sentire onus - He who derives a benefit ought also to bear a burden.
  261. Qui tacet consentire videtur - He who is silent appears to consent.
  262. Quid pro quo - Consideration. something for something.
  263. Quidcquid plantatur solo, solo cedit - Whatever is planted in or affixed to the soil, belongs to the soil.
  264. Quod necessarie intelligitur, id non deest - What is necessarily understood is not wanting.
  265. Quod necessitas cogit, defendit - What necessity forces it justifies.
  266. Quod non apparet, non est - What does not appear, is not.
  267. Quod non habet principium non habet finem - What has no beginning has no end.
  268. Quod per me non possum, nec per alium - What I cannot do through myself, I cannot do through another.
  269. Quantum Merit – As much as deserved.
  270. Qui facit per alium facit per se – He who acts through another acts by himself/Liability of an employer for the act of employee.
  271. Quo Warranto – By whose authority?
  272. Ration Decidendi – The rule of law on which a judicial decision is based.
  273. Re - In the matter of.
  274. Recognition is the greatest motivator - Agnitio est maioribus motivator
  275. Reprobata pecunia leberat solventem - Money refused releases the debtor.
  276. Res - Matter, affair, thing, circumstance.
  277. Res gestae - Things done.
  278. Res integra - A matter untouched by decision.
  279. Res Judicata – A case which has already been decided.
  280. Res nulis - Nobody s property.
  281. Respondeat superior - Let the principal answer.
  282. Rex non potest peccare - The King can do no wrong.
  283. Rex nunquma moritur - The King never dies.
  284. Rex quod injustum est facere non potest - The King cannot do what is unjust.
  285. Salus populi est suprema lex - The safety of the people is the supreme law.
  286. Sine die – With no appointed date for resumption.
  287. Sciens - Knowingly.
  288. Scienter - Knowingly.
  289. Scire facias - That you cause to know.
  290. Scribere est agere - To write is to act.
  291. Se defendendo - In self-defence.
  292. Secus - The legal position is different, it is otherwise.
  293. Servitia personalia sequuntur personam - Personal services follow the person.
  294. Sic utere tuo ut alienum non laedas - So use your own as not to injure another s property.
  295. Simplex commendatio non obligat - A simple recommendation does not bind
  296. Stare decisis - To stand by decisions.
  297. Stet - Do not delete, let it stand.
  298. Sub modo - Within limits.
  299. Sub nomine - Under the name of.
  300. Sub silentio - In silence.
  301. Sublata causa, tollitur effectus - The cause being removed, the effect ceases.
  302. Sublato fundamento, cadit opus - The foundation being removed, the structure falls.
  303. Suggestio falsi - The suggestion of something which is untrue.
  304. Sui generis - Unique.
  305. Suppressio veri - The suppression of the truth.
  306. Suppressio veri expressio falsi - A suppression of truth is equivalent to an expression of falsehood.
  307. Talis qualis - Such as it is.
  308. Terra firma - Solid ground.
  309. Testamenta latissimam interpretationem habere debent - Testaments ought to have the broadest interpretation.
  310. Traditio loqui chartam facit - Delivery makes a deed speak.
  311. Transit terra cum onere - The land passes with its burden.
  312. Ubberime fide – In utmost good faith.
  313. Ubi jus ibi remedium – Wherever there is a right, there is a remedy/For every wrong there is a remedy.
  314. Ubi non est principalis, non potest esse accessorius - Where there is no principal, there can be no accessory.
  315. Ubi nullum matrimonium, ibi nulla dos es - Where there is no marriage, there is no dower.
  316. Utile per inutile non vitiatur - What is useful is not vitiated by the useless.
  317. Verba chartarum fortius accipiuntur contra preferentem - The words of deeds are accepted more strongly against the person offering them.
  318. Verba debent intelligi cum effectu - Words ought to be understood with effect.
  319. Verba intentioni, non e contra, debent inservire - Words ought to serve the intention, not the reverse.
  320. Verbatim - Word by word, exactly.
  321. Vi et armis - With the force and arms.
  322. Via antiqua via est tuta - The old way is the safe way.
  323. Vice versa - The other way around.
  324. Vide - See.
  325. Vigilantibus non dormientibus jura subveniunt - The laws serve the vigilant, not those who sleep.
  326. Volens - Willing.
  327. Volenti non fit injuria - An injury is not done to one consenting to it.
  328. Voluntas in delictis non exitus spectatur - In offences the intent and not the result is looked at.
  329. Voluntas reputatur pro facto - The will is taken for the deed.
  330. Vox populi – Voice of the people.

*Source – Books of Latin Legal Terminologies

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