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P.V.Poornima (Lawyer)     04 March 2008

Legal Maxims

ab initio


from the beginning.

locus standi


signifies a right to be heard.

ad hoc


for particular purpose, pertaining to or for the purpose of, this case only.

mens rea


a guilty mind.

ad interim 


in the meantime

mesne profits


intermediate profits, the profits which a person in wrongful possession of the property actually received or might with ordinary diligence have received therefrom together with interest on such profits excluding the profits due to improvement made by the person in wrongful possession.

amicus curiae


friend of the court; one who voluntarily or on invitation of the court, and not on the instructions of any party, helps the court in any judicial proceedings. 

modus operandi



mode of operating; the way in which a thing, cause etc. operates.

audi alteram


hear the other side. Both sides should be heard before a decision is arrived at.

mutatis mutandis


with the necessary changes in points of detail, with such change as may be necessary.

caveat emptor


let the purchaser beware. A maxim implying that the buyer must be cautious, as the risk is his and not that of the seller.



bond, link or connection.

cestui que trust

a beneficiary under a trust, the person for whose benefit a trust is created.

non obstante


"notwithstanding clause." A legislative device which is usually employed to give overriding effect to certain provisions over some contrary provision that may be found either in the same enactment, or some other enactment, that is to say, to avoid the operation and defect of all contrary provisions.

de facto


in fact : an expression indicating the actual state of circumstances independently of any question of right or title.




de jure


in law : independent of what obtains in fact.

obiter dictum


an opinion of law not necessary to the decision. An expression of opinion (formed) by a judge on a question immaterial to the ratio decidendi, and unnecessary for the decision of the particular case. It is no way binding on any court, but may receive attention as being an opinion of high authority.



outside of : unconnected with, unrelated to; 

pendente lite


during litigation.

de novo



per incuriam


through carelessness, through inadvertence. A decision of the court is not binding precedent if given per incuriam, that is, without the court's attention having been drawn to the relevant authorities, or statutes.

ejusdem generis

of the same kind or nature. Where a list of specific items is followed by general concluding clause, this is deemed to be limited to things of the same kind as those specified.

pro tanto


to that extent, for so much, for as much as may be.

ex gratia


as a matter of grace or favour.

quid pro quo


the giving of one thing of value for another thing of value; one for the other; thing given as compensation.

ex officio

by virtue of an office.

ratio decidendi


reasons for deciding, the grounds of decision.

ex parte


expression used to signify something done or said by one person not in the presence of his opponent.

res integra


an untouched matter; a point without a precedent; a case of novel impression.

fait accompli


an accomplished act.

res judicata


a case or suit already decided.

in limine


at the outset.

rule nisi


a rule to show cause why a party should not do a certain act, or why the object of the rule should not be enforced.

in pari materia


upon the same matter or subject

rule absolute


when, having heard counsels, court directs the performance of that act forthwith.

in personam


against the person; an act or proceeding done or directed against or with reference to a specific person.

sine die


without day.

in rem


an act/proceeding done or directed with reference to no specific person or with reference to all whom it might concern.

sine qua non


an indispensable requisite.

inter alia


amongst other things.

stare decisis

to stand by things decided; to abide by precedents where the same points come again in litigation.

inter vivos


between living persons

status quo


existing condition.



a person is deemed to die intestate in respect of property of which he or she has not made a testamentary disposition ("will") capable of taking effect. 

sub judice


before a judge or court, pending decision of a competent count.

intra vires


within the powers; within the authority given by law.

ultra vires


beyond one's powers.

ipse dixit


he himself said it; there is no other authority for it.




ipso facto

by the mere fact, automatically




ipso jure


by the law itself; by the mere operation of law.




lis pendens


a pending suit.







 34 Replies

SANJAY DIXIT (Advocate)     04 March 2008

Nice. Its useful.
1 Like

Guest (n/a)     08 April 2008


Guest (n/a)     08 April 2008

Kalpana.S (-)     10 April 2008

It is a nice collection


A Legal Maxim is an established principle or proposition. The Latin term, apparently a variant on maxima, is not to be found in Roman law with any meaning exactly analogous to that of a legal maxim in the Medieval or modern sense of the word, but the treatises of many of the Roman jurists on Regular definitiones, and Sententiae juris are, in some measure, collections of maxims. Most of the Latin maxims developed in the Medieval era in European countries that used Latin as their language for law and courts. The attitude of early English commentators towards the maxims of the law was one of unmingled adulation. A similar note was sounded in Scotland; and it has been well observed that a glance at the pages of Morrisons Dictionary or at other early reports will show how frequently in the older Scots law questions respecting the rights, remedies and liabilities of individuals were determined by an immediate reference to legal maxims. In later times, less value has been attached to the maxims of the law, as the development of civilization and the increasing complexity of business relations have shown the necessity of qualifying the propositions which they enunciate. But both historically and practically, they must always possess interest and value.

s.sivakumar (advocate)     29 April 2008

it's very nice to see the collection of the maxims with meanings.Good Work.

Ninad (student)     19 May 2008

thanku sir its very useful to me.......

Shree. ( Advocate.)     19 May 2008

Thanks for posting important maxims.

Thank you for the legal maxims. They are ever useful.

Guest (n/a)     13 June 2008

Well, the legal maxims were much useful. A heartily thanks for that.

If you can provide with litlle more legal phrase or legal tips, it will be much more than useful and grateful.

Anyways for the legal maxims, thanks

Guest (n/a)     13 June 2008

1. Well, the legal maxims were much useful. A heartily thanks for that.

If you can provide with litlle more legal phrase or legal tips, it will be much more than useful and grateful.

Anyways for the legal maxims, thanks


very useful information


Vasant Kumar (Lawyer)     06 August 2008

thanks they are really very useful.

smith sharma (lecturer)     06 August 2008

Thanx 4  imp maxims,It's realy useful 4 us.

with regards

miss smith sharma{lawyer}

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