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Latin Maxims

No. Latin Maxim Translation Loc.


1 Legis interpretatio / legis vim btinet. Judicial construction and interpretation of a statute acquires the force of
law.
139b
2a
*b
[c]
Contemporanea expositio /est ptima et fortssima in lege.
ptima est legum interpres / consuetudo.
Rgula pro lege,/ si dficit lex.
Contemporary construction is strongest in law.
Custom is the best interpreter of a statute.
In default of law, the maxim rules.
190t
3a
*b
*c
ptimus interpres rerum / usus.
Communis error / facit jus.
Quod ab intio non valet / in tractu tmporis / non cnvalescit.
The best interpreter of the law is usage.
Common error sometimes passes as current law.
That which was originally void does not, by lapse of time, become valid.
194m
4 Ratihabtio / mandato aequiparatur. Legislative ratification is equivalent to a mandate. 200t
5a
b
Stare decisis / et non quieta movere.
Interest reipblicae / ut sit finis ltium.
Follow past precedents and do not disturb what has been settled.
The interest of the state demands that there be an end to litigation.
202b
203t
6a
[b]
c
d
[e]
[f ]
Index nimi / sermo est.
nimus hminis / est nima scripti.
Verba legis / non est recedendum.
Maledicta est / expostio quae corrumpit textum.
Littera scripta / manet.
Clusula rebus / sic stntibus.
Speech is the index of intention.
The intention of the man is the soul of what is written.
Do not depart from the words of the statute.
It is bad construction which corrupts the text.
The written word endures.
Things thus standing.
206m

206b
208b
7a
b
c
Absoluta sentntia / expositore / non ndiget.
Dura lex / sed lex.
Hoc quidem / perquam durum est, / sed ita lex scripta est.
When the language of the law is clear, no explanation is required.
The law may be harsh but it is the law.
It is exceedingly hard, but so the law is written.
209t
209m
209m
8a
[b]
[c ]
Aquitas / nunquam contravenit legis.
Aquum et bonum / est lex legum.
Jus / ars boni et aqui.
Equity never acts in contravention of the law.
What is good and equal is the law of laws.
Law is the art of good and equitable.
210m
9a
[b]
c

*d

*e

*f
Ratio legis / est nima legis.
Lttera necat / spritus vivficat.
Verba intentioni, / non e contra, / debent inservire.

Benignus / leges interpretandae sunt, / quod voluntas earum
/conservetur.
Qui haret in lttera / haret in crtice.

Quando verba statuti sunt speciali, / ratio autem generlia, /
statutum / generliter est intelligendum.
The reason of the law is the soul of the law.
The letter kills but the spirit gives life.
Words ought to be more subservient to the intent and not to the words.

Law is to be construed liberally so that its spirit and reason be preserved.

He who considers merely the letter of an instrument goes but skin deep
into its meaning.
When the words used in a statute are special, but the purpose of the law is
general, it should be read as the general expression.
214t

215m

10 Cessante rationi legis, / cessat et ipsa lex. When the reason of the law ceases, the law itself ceases. 230m
11a

*b

*c
*d

*e
*f
[g]
[h]
[i ]
Interpetatio talis / in ambguis / semper fienda est / ut evitetur
inconveniens / et absurdum.
Legis constructio / non facit injuriam.

Argumentum ab inconvenienti / plrimum valet in lege.
Verba / nihil operari melis est / quam absurde.

Lex / semper intendit / quod convenit rationi.
Ubi edem ratio / ibi idem jus.
Argumentum a smili / valet in lege.
De simlibus / idem est judicium.
Ubi edem est ratio, / ibi est edem legis dispostio.
When there is ambiguity, the interpretation of such that will avoid
inconvenience and absurdity is adopted.
The construction of the law will not be as such as to work injury or
injustice.
An argument drawn from inconvenience is forcible in law.
It is better that words should have no operation at all than that they
should operate absurdly.
The law always intends that which is in accordance with reason.
Where there is the same reason, there is the same law.
An argument drawn from a similar case, or analogy prevails in law.
Concerning similars, the judgement is the same.
Where the reason is the same, there is the same verdict of the law
236m
12a
[b]
Ea est accipienda interpretatio quae vitio caret.
Lex injusta non / est lex.
That interpretation is to be adopted which is free from injustice.
An unjust law is not a law.
243b
13a
[b]
[c]
Fiat justtia, / ruat coelum.
Nemo est / supra legis.
Nulla potentia / supra legis esse debet.
Let right be done, though the heavens fall.
Nobody is above the law.
No power must be above the law.
245t
14 Jurae naturae aequum est / nminem / cum altrius detrimento et
injuria / feri locupletirem.
It is certainly not agreeable to natural justice that a stranger should reap
the pecuniary produce of another mans work.
248m
15a
b
Surplusgium / non nocet.
tile / per inutile / non vitiatur.
Surplusage does not vitiate a statute.
The useful is not vitiated by the non-useful.
250m
250m
16a

*b

*c
Falsa demonstratio / non nocet, / cum de crpore constat.

Nil facit / error nminis / cum de crpore vel persona / constat.

Certum est / quod certum reddi potest.
False description does not preclude construction nor vitiate the meaning
of the statute.
Error in name does not make an instrument inoperative when the
description is sufficiently clear.
That is sufficiently certain which can be made certain.
252t
17 Ibi / quid generliter concditur, / inest haec exceptio, / si non
liquid sit contras / jus basque.
Where anything is granted generally, exemption from rigid application of
law is implied: that nothing shall be contrary to law.
252m
18a
[b]
Summum jus, / summa injria.
Jus summum saepe, / summa est malitia.
The rigor of the law would be the highest injustice.
Extreme law is often extreme wrong.
252b
19a
b
*c
*d
Nemo / tenetur ad impossiblia.
Impossiblium nulla / obligtio est.
Lex / non cogit ad impossiblia.
Lex / non intendit liquid impossbile.
The law obliges no one to perform an impossibility.
There is no obligation to do an impossible thing.
The law does not require an impossibility.
The law does not intend the impossible.
253t
253t
20a
b
*c
Ex necessitate legis.
In eo / quod plus sit, / semper inest et minus.
Ci / jurisdctio data est, / ea quoque / concessa esse videntur / sine
quibus jurisdictio / explicari non ptuit.
By the necessary implication of law.
The greater includes the lesser.
When jurisdiction is given, all powers and means essential to its exercise
are also given.
255m
255m
21a
[b]
Ubi jus, / ibi remdium.
Ubi jus incertum, / ibi jus nullum.
Where there is a right, there is a remedy for the violation thereof.
Where the law is uncertain, there is no right.
257m
22a
b
c
Ex dolo malo / non ritur actio.
Nullus / cmmodum cpere potest / de injuria sua propria.
In pari delicto / ptior est condtio defendentis.
An action does not arise from fraud.
No one may derive advantage from his own unlawful act.
Where the parties are equally at fault, the position of the defending party
is the better one.
265b
265b
266t
23 Quando liquid / prohibetur ex directo, / prohibetur et per
oblquum.
What cannot by law be done directly cannot be done indirectly. 267t
24a
b
Generlia verba / sunt generliter intelligenda.
Generale dictum / generliter est interpretandum.
General words should not be understood in their general sense.
A general statement is understood in its general sense.

276m
276m
Latin Maxims


25a
*b

*c

*d
Verba / accipienda sunt / secundum subjectam matriam.
Verba mere aequivoca, / si per communem usum loquendi / in
intellectu certo sumuntur, / talis intellectus / preferendus est.
Verba artis / ex arte.

Verba generlia / restringuntur / ad habilitatem rei vel personam.
A word is to be understood in the context in which it is used.
Equivocal words or those with double meaning are to be understood
according to their common and ordinary sense.
Words of art should be explained from their usage in the art to which they
belong.
General words should be confined according to the subject matter or
persons to which they relate.
288b
26 Ubi lex non distnguit / necnon / distnguere debemus. Where the law does not distinguish, the courts should not distinguish. 289b
27 Dissmilum / dissmilis est ratio. Of things dissimilar, the rule is dissimilar. 297b
28 Nonscitur / a sociis. A thing is known by its associates. 302t
29 Ejusdem generis. Of the same kind or specie. 309m
30a

b
Expressio unus / est exlusio altrius.

Expressum / facit cessare / tcitum.
The express mention of one person, thing or consequence implies the
exclusion of all others.
What is expressed puts an end to that which is implied.
318b

319t
31 Argumentum a contrrio. Negative-Opposite: What is expressed puts an end to which is implied. 323b
32 Casus omissus / pro omisso / habendus est. A person, object or thing being omitted from an enumeration must be held
to have been omitted intentionally.
336b
33 Ad prximum antecedens / fiat relatio / nisi impediatur sentntia. A qualifying word or phrase should be understood as referring to the
nearest antecedent.
337m
34 Reddendo / sngular sngulis. Referring to each or referring each phrase or expression to its appropriate
object, or let each be put in its proper place.
339b
35 Exceptio / firmat rgulam / in csibus non exceptis. A thing not being expected must be regarded as coming within the
purview of the general rule.
346b
36a
*b
*c

*d

*e

*f
ptima statuti interpretatrix est / ipsum statutum.
Ex tota matria / emergat resoltio.
Injustum est, / nisi tota lege inspecta, / de una liqua ejus partcula
propsita / indicare vel respndere
Nemo enim aliquam partem / recte intellgere possit / ntequam
totum / terum atque terum perlegit.
Ex antecedntibus et consequntibus fit / ptima interpretatio.

Verba postrima / propter certitdinem ddita ad prioria / quae
certitdine indiget / sunt referenda.
The best interpreter of the statue is the statute itself.
The exposition of a statute should be made from all its parts combined
It is unjust to decide or to respond as to any particular apart of a law
without examining the whole of the law.
The sense and meaning of the law is collected by viewing all the parts
together as one whole and not of one part only by itself.
A passage will be best interpreted by reference to that which precedes and
follows it.
Reference should be made to a subsequent section in order to explain a
previous clause of which the meaning is doubtful.
356m
37 Interpretatio fienda est / ut res magis vleat quam preat. A law should be interpreted with a view of upholding rather than
destroying it.
360t
38a
b
Pari matria
Interpretare et concordare / leges lgibus / est ptimus
interpretandi modus.
Of the same matter.
Every statute must be so construed and harmonized with other statutes as
to have a uniform system of law.
376m
376b

39a
[b]
[c]
Distngue tmpora / et concordabis jura.
Tmpora mutantur / et leges mutantur in illis
Mutatis / mutandis.
Distinguish times and you will harmonize law.
Times have changed and laws have changed with them.
With the necessary changes.
379t
40a
b
*c
Salus ppuli / est suprema lex.
Statuta / pro pblico cmmodo / late intepretantur.
Privatum incmmodum / pblico bono / pensatur.
The welfare of the people is the supreme law.
Statutes enacted for the public good are to be construed liberally.
The private interests of the individual must give way to the
accommodation of the public.
396t
396t
41a
b
Actus / non facit reum / nisi mens sit ren.
Actus / me invito factus / non est meus actus.
The act does not make a person guilty unless the mind is also guilty.
An act done by me against my will is not my act.
408m
408m
42a

[b]
Privilgia / recipiunt largam intepretationem / voluntate
consonam concendentis.
Renunciatio / non praesmitur.
Privileges are to be interpreted in accordance with the will of him who
grants them.
Renunciation cannot be presumed.
414t
43 Strictssimi juris. Follow the law strictly. 417b
44 Nullum tempus occurit / regi. There can be no legal right as against the authority that makes the law on
which the right depends.
430m
45a
b
Vigilntibus et non dormintibus / jura subveniunt.
Ptior est in tmpore,/ ptior est in jure.
The law aids the vigilant, not those who slumber on their rights.
He who is first in time is preferred in right.
474b
474b
46a
b
c

*d

*e
Lex prspicit, / non rspicit.
Lex de futuro, / judex de praetrito.
Nova constitution / futuris formam impnere debet non
praeteritis.
Leges quae, retrospiciunt,/ et magna cum cautione sunt adhibendae
/ neque enim Janus locatur in legibus.
Leges et constitutiones / futuris / certum est dare formam /
negtiis, non ad facta praeterita revocari, / nisi nominatim / et de
praeterito tmpore et adhuc pendntibus negtiis / cautum sit.
The law looks forward, not backward.
The law provides for the future, the judge for the past.
A new statute should affect the future, not the past.

Laws which are retrospective are rarely and cautiously received for Janus
has really no place in the laws.
Laws should be construed as prospective, not retrospective, unless they
are expressly made applicable to past transactions and to such as are still
pending.
489b
489b
490t
47 Nullum crimen sine poena, / nulla poena sine lege. There is no crime without a penalty. There is no penalty without a law. 494t
48 Favorabilia sunt amplianda, / odiosa rstringenda. Penal laws which are favorable to the accused are given retroactive effect. 497t
49 Leges posteriores / priores contrrias brogant. Later statutes repeal prior ones which are repugnant thereto. 563t
50 Generalia / specilibus /non drogant. A general law does not nullify a specific or a special law. 564m


*A Ignorntia legis / nminem excusat Ignorance of the law excuses no one.
*B 1

[2]
In obscuris / nspici slere quod verisimlius est,/ aut quod plerumque
feri solet.
Ambigitas verborum patens / nulla verificatione excluditur
When matters are obscure, it is customary to take what appears to be more likely
or what usually often happens.
A patent ambiguity can be cleared up by extrinsic evidence (unless perfectly vague)
*C 1
*2

*3
[4]
Ad ea / quae frequntibus accident / jura adaptatur
Jus consttui oportet in his / quae ut plrimum accident / non quae ex
inrdinato.
Quod / semel aut bis / existit / praetreunt legislatores.
De mnimis / non curat lex.
Laws are understood to be adapted to those cases which most frequently occur.
Laws ought to be made with a view to those cases which happen most frequently
and not those which are of rare or accidental occurrence.
Legislators pass over what happens only once or twice.
The law does not concern itself with trifling matters.
*D Nigrum / numquam excedre debet /rubrum. The black (body of the act printed in black) should never go beyond the red (title or
rubric of the statute printed in red).