Top 25 Legal Maxims You Must Know

By | April 19, 2020
25 legal maxims you must know

Last Updated :

These 25 legal maxims below are not only essential for the students of law but are also beneficial for the common public. The word ‘Legal Maxims’ can be described ‘as an established principle or proposition of law, and a species of aphorism and general maxim.’

25 Legal Maxims You Must Know

What accounts to be their significant role? Why do we need them? Are they significant in today’s legal activities?

The world was barely a simple place to live before the activities of trade and commerce widen the horizons and the need for legal maxims came into existence.

During the 16th and 17th centuries, the requirement for some sound principles that could solve the tedious tasks of Judges to provide lengthy decisions was the utmost requirement. Legal Maxims helped them to formulate legal policies and ease their work of decision making.

In the 21st Century, where law plays a significant role in our lives, it more or less necessary for us to be acquainted of few important legal maxims.

These 25 legal maxims below are not only essential for the students of law but are also beneficial for the common public.

1. Persona Non Grata

The word can be described as an ‘unacceptable person’. In diplomacy, a persona non grata is a foreign person entering or remaining in a particular country is prohibited by that country’s government. The word is mainly used in international law and arbitration.

The legal maxim received its diplomatic meaning at the 1961 Vienna Convention for Diplomatic Relations. Under Article 9 of the treaty, a country can declare any member of a diplomatic staff persona non grata “at any time and without having to explain its decision.

2. Locus Standi

In law, locus standi can be described as ‘the right or capacity to bring an action or to appear in a court‘. Locus Standi is usually granted to those whose legal rights have been majorly infringed or the law or act can cause a huge loss to their work in interests. The term is mostly used in constitutional law.

3. Alibi

Alibi is a defence wherein the accused pleads before the court that he was present elsewhere at the time of the commission of a crime. The term is majorly used in Criminal Law. An example could be ‘ Harry is charged with wrongful confinement of Sally’ and in defence, ‘Harry explains that he was in Germany when Sally was wrongfully confined.

4. Obiter Dicta

Obiter Dicta is a Latin term meaning ‘by the way’. It is a remark in the judgment, i.e. the opinion of the judge, which is not essential to the judgment. The term has no binding effect. This concept is derived from English Common Law.

5. Audi Alteram Partem

It is again a Latin term which can be defined as ‘hearing the other side’. The term is generally used between the plaintiff and defendant where the court demands to listen to both sides.

This is a concept of Natural Justice where equal opportunity must be provided to the other party for representing his side of the case.

6. Amicus Curiae

The term can be described as someone who is ‘a friend of the court’. It majorly describes a person who is ‘not a party to a case’ and is present at the court for the sake of assistance and has not been solicited by a party. The term is mostly used in contract law.

7. Animus Possidendi

It is another Latin term which means an ‘intention to posses’. In common law countries, an intention to possess is considered as a pact.

8. Bonafide

The term literally means ‘in good faith’, which means that a person has no intention to be dishonest and does everything in good faith.

The concept of Bonafide is mainly used in law and business. The opposite of bona fide is called ‘mala fide’ which means with an intention to deceive another person.

9. Caveat

Caveat means ‘beware’, which basically means a warning. It is a request given to the court that no order be passed against the caveator unless the party instituting the caveat has been heard.

10. Caveat Emptor

A common term used in consumer’s law, which means that ‘ Let the buyer beware’. Caveat emptor is the contract law principle that controls the sale of real property after the date of closing, but may also apply to sales of other goods.

11. Caveat Venditor

It is again a contract law principle which means ‘Let the seller beware’. It is the opposite of Caveat Emptor which means that the sellers can also be defeated.

12. Corpus Deliciti

The term can be simply described as ‘the concrete evidence of a crime’. The term is from western Jurisprudence that basically means that it is important in the court to prove whether the crime has occurred or not, before convicting the criminal.

13. Damnum Sine Injuria

It is a Latin term which means ‘injury without damage’. The term means that the plaintiff’s right of seeking legal remedy is denied because there is a presence of ‘no legal injury’. The plaintiff cannot seek damages.

The case of Gloucester Grammar School is an example, where the rival school could not seek the damages and this concept comes under the law of torts.

14. Injuria Sine Damno

Injuria Sine Damno is a violation of a legal right with no actual damage caused. In this case, the person’s legal right is being infringed, and he has the right to bring the case against the defendant in the court.

The example could be the right to vote, which the person might have been denied without no appropriate or significant reason.

15. Doli Incapax

The term means ‘Incapable of crime’. This maxim is used in several legal systems referring to the persons who are incapable of committing a crime or a tort, with reference to their age.

In the Indian Penal Code, the children below the age of 7 years come under this maxim as they lack the criminal behaviour and are thus relieved from the crime.

16. Certiorari

It is one of the 5 writs of the Indian Constitution in which the court can order an inferior authority to transfer the matter to it or to some other authority for its proper of better consideration.

17. The Quo Warranto

Used mainly in British and American law, Quo warranto means by which the court can restrain a person from acting in a public office to which he/she is not entitled to. The person has to show whether he/she has the authority to exercise the particular power or not.

18. The Habeas Corpus

One of the writs of the Indian constitution which provides a remedy against wrongful detention of a person.

By it the court directs the detaining authority to produce the detained person in the court and justify the cause of his/her detention.

19. Mandamus

It is a judicial remedy in the form of an order in which the court can order an inferior authority to do any act that falls within its jurisdiction. It is one of the writs of the Indian Constitution, Article-32, Right to constitutional remedies.

20. Boni judicis est ampliare jurisdictionem

It is the part of a good judge to enlarge his jurisdiction, i.e. remedial authority. It means that it is the duty of the judge to enlarge his/her Jurisdiction. The maxim is mainly used in Common law countries.

21. Actus Reus Non Facit Reum Nisi Mens Sit Rea

The legal term mentions the two adjoining terms that is ‘Actus reus- crime’ and ‘mens rea-mental intent’.

The legal maxim means that in order to convict someone for being guilty of a crime, the proof of criminal act and mental intention is necessary.

22. Assentio mentium

It is a Latin term which simply means ‘meeting of the minds or with mutual assent’ of the parties to the contract. The term or legal maxim is mainly used in Contract Law.

23. Animus furandi

It is again another Latin term which means ‘with an intention to steal’. The term is mainly used in the crime of ‘Larency- a crime involving the unlawful taking or theft of the personal property of another person or business’ the thief must take the property Animo Furandi’

24. Actori incumbit onus probandi

The legal maxim can be described as ‘the burden of proof lies on the plaintiff’. The term is used in all sort of law where it is the responsibility of the plaintiff to prove that he is the victim.

25. Sine Die

The term means ‘Adjourned without fixing any date for the next meeting.’ The term is majorly used in parliament meetings.