De Facto/ Ipso Facto Meaning, Origin, Explanation, Application and Important case laws

By | September 7, 2021
De Facto/ Ipso Facto

Last Updated on by Admin LB

This article on ‘De Facto/ Ipso Facto’ is written by Sahajpreet Bhusari and explains the meaning of the terms De Facto/ Ipso Facto as well its origin, application and important case laws related to it.

I. Meaning and Origin

De facto is a legal term of Latin origin. It literally means “by the very fact or in actual use or existence”. De facto can be considered as the opposite of De jure which literally means “in law or recognized by law”[1].

II. Explanation

De facto refers to a state of affairs that is in fact true but not officially recognized. On the contrary, de jure is a state of affairs that conforms to the law (that is, officially recognized).

III. Application

More commonly, these phrases are used to explain the cause of business permits or the authority of government leaders, but they apply to a wide variety of situations. Let’s take a look at this example which will help us understand the usage of the maxim.

Example- Steve is the de jure head while Stefen is the de facto head. This means that as per the law and on paper Steve is the head whereas the actually functioning is being managed by Stefen.

III. Important case laws

In Gokaraju Rangaraju v. State of Andhra Pradesh[2] the Supreme Court, in this case, threw light upon the de facto doctrine. The Supreme Court held that the maxim is well established and that the acts of the officers de facto will be considered binding as if they were acts of the officers de jure. The same was held by the Supreme Court in the case of Central Bank of India v. Bernard[3].


[1] Merriam Webster, De Facto, Available Here, Accessed on 16th August 2021.

[2] (1981) 3 SCC 132.

[3] (1991) 1 SCC 319.

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