Latin Law Terms

Many words in the English language derive from Latin and the Roman Empire. It was at this time when lawyers were first taught their profession. Many of the laws that were implemented at that time still remain (of course lots have been adapted to suit modern times), therefore Latin phrases are widely used in the current legal system to define a variety of legal circumstances, phrases and words.

Latin phrases A to Z:

Latin law terms beginning with ‘A’

A COELO USQUE AD CENTRUM
A Coelo Usque Ad Centrum is the latin term for ‘from heaven to the centre of the earth’ and is a term which may be used to describe the theoretical rights of the owner of property.

A FORTIORI
A Fortiori is the latin term for ‘much more; with stronger reason’.

A MENSA ET THORO
A Mensa Et Thoro is the Latin term for ‘from board to bed’

A VERBIS LEGIS NON EST RECEDENDUM
A verbis legis non est recedendum is a latin term used in law meaning ‘you must not vary the words of a stutute’.

A VINCULO MATRIMONII
A vibculo matrimonii is a latin term used in law and means ‘from the bond of matrimony’ (used in situations of divorce).

AB EXTRA
Ab Extra is the Latin term for ‘from outside’.

AB INITIO
Ab Initio is the Latin term for ‘from the beginning’

ACCESSORIOUS SEQUITUR
Accessorius Sequitur is the Latin term for ‘One who is an accessory to the crime cannot be guilty of a more serious crime than the principle offender’.

ACTUS REUS
Actus Reus is the latin term for ‘Guilty Act’ – the offence of which the defendant is accused.

AD DAMNUM
Ad Damnum is the latin term referring to the sections of a petition that speaks to the damages that were suffered and claimed by the claimant. The ad damnum part of a petition will usually suggest an amount in pounds that the claimant asks the court to award.

AD HOC
Ad Hoc is the Latin term for ‘For this purpose’.

AD HOMINEM
Ad Hominem is the latin term used to express personal criticism of a judge or his judgement and is usually made by a more senior judge.

AD IDEM
Ad Idem is a latin term for ‘In Agreement’.

AD INNFINITUM
Ad Infinitum is the Latin term for: ‘forever’, ‘without limit’ or ‘to infinity’.

AD LITEM
Ad Litem is the latin term for ‘for the suit’ – For example, a person appointed only for the purposes of prosecuting or defending an action on behalf of another such as a child or mentally challenged person may be referred to as guardian ad litem
 
AD VALOREM
Ad Valorem is a latin term which means in proportion to the value. 

ADDENDUM
Addendum is the latin term for the attachment to a written document, for example a affidavits may be addendums to a petition as a petition may be an addendum to a writ

ALIEXI JURIS
Aliexi Juris is a latin term meaning “words applied to a persons who are suject to the authority of others”, for example a child who is under the authority of a guardian; the child is said to be aliexi juris.

ALIUNDE
Aliunde is the Latin term for ‘From elsewhere’ or ‘From a different source’.

AMICUS CURIAE
Amicus Curiae is the Latin term for ‘A friend of the Court’.

AMITY
Amity means friendship / friendly relations and is derived from the French word Amitie and the Latin term Amicus which means friend.

ANTE
Ante is the Latin term for ‘Before’.

AUDI ALTERAM PARTEM
Audi alteram partem is a latin phrase and is a principle of natural justice which disallows a judicial decision which impacts on a persons rights without giving all parties involved a right to be heard.
Habeas corpus was an early expression of the audi alteram partem principle. More recently it has been extended to include the right to receive notice of a hearing and given an opportunity to be represented or heard.

AVIZANDUM
Avizandum is a latin term used in Scots law and means ‘to be considered’

AVUNCULUS
Avunculus is a latin term meaning ‘a mothers brother’, or the latin term avuncular refers to them as an uncle.

 

B Latin law terms beginning with ‘B’

BONA FIDE
Bona Fide is the Latin term for ‘Sincere’ or ‘In good faith’.

BONA VACANTIA
Bona Vacantia is the Latin term for ‘Goods without an owner’


C Latin law terms beginning with ‘C’

CAVEAT
Caveat is a latin term for ‘Warning’, and is a notice given to the registrar that effectively prevents action by another party without first notifying the party entering the caveat.

CAVEAT EMPTOR
Caveat Emptor is a latin term for ‘buyer beware’, and is used to warn people buying goods that they may not be able to get compensation if the goods are faulty.

CERTIORARI
Certiorari is a latin term meaning ‘to be informed of’, and is an order by the High Court that a case should be reviewed. If the high court considers that a case heard in a lower court is flawed it may order that it be reviewed by the High Court

CESSATE
Deriving from Latin, ‘cessate’ is a grant of representation of limited duration which has ceased and expired

CONTRA
Contra is the Latin term for ‘To the contrary’.

CONTRA BONOS MORES
Contra bonos mores is the Latin term for ‘Contrary to good morals’

CORAM NON JUDICE
Coram Non Judice is the Latin term for ‘Before one who is not a judge’

CORPUS
Corpus is the Latin term for ‘Body’

CORPUS DELICTI
Corpus Delicti is the Latin term for ‘The body of the offence’ and is used to describe the body of a person who has been killed unlawfully.

CORPUS JURIS CIVILIS
Corpus Juris Civilis is the Latin term for ‘Body of Civil Law’.

CULPA
Culpa is the latin term for blameworthiness or a fault.

CUM
Cum is a latin term meaning ‘with’

CUM DIVIDEND
Cum dividend means with dividend (derived from the latin term ‘cum’) If a share is sold cum dividend, the buyer will receive the dividend that was declared just before the share was bought.

CUSTOS MORUM
Custos Morum is the Latin term for ‘A guardian of morals’.

 

D Latin law terms beginning with ‘D’

DECREE NISI
Derived from latin (nisi meaning ‘unless’) a decree nisi is an order for divorce unless cause to contrary is shown within a set period.

DE BONIS ASPORTATIS
De Bonis Asportatis is the Latin term for ‘Of goods carried away’.

DE DIE IN DIEM
De die in diem is the Latin term for ‘From day to day’.

DE FACTO
De facto is the Latin term for ‘In fact’ or ‘Matter of fact’. 

DE FUTURO
De futuro is the Latin term for ‘In the future’.

DE INTEGRO
De Integro is the Latin term for ‘As regards the whole’. 

DE JURE
De jure is the Latin term for ‘Rightful, by right’.

DE MINIMIS NON CURAT LEX
De minimis non curat lex is a latin term for ‘the law will not take account of trifiling matters’.

DE NOVO
De novo is the Latin term for ‘Starting afresh’

DOLI INCAPAX
Doli incapax is the Latin term for ‘Incapable of crime’.

DOMINIUM
Dominium is the Latin term for ‘Ownership’.

DUBITANTE
Dubitante is the Latin term for ‘Doubting the correctness of the decision’

 

 Latin law terms beginning with ‘E’

EI INCUMBIT PROBATIO QUI
Ei incumbit probatio qui is the Latin term for ‘The onus of proving a fact rests upon the man’.

ET CETERA
Et Cetera (commonly written as etc) is a Latin term for ‘Other things of that type’.

ET SEQ (ET SEQUEUS)
Et Seq is the latin term for ‘and in the following pages’.

EX CATHEDRA
Ex Cathedra is the Latin term for ‘With official authority’.

EX CONCESSIS
Ex Concessis is the Latin term for ‘In view of what has already been accepted’. 

EX FACIE
Ex facie is the Latin term for ‘On the fact of it’.

EX GRATIA
Ex gratia is the Latin term for ‘Out of kindness – voluntary’
 
EX PARTE
Ex parte is a Latin legal term meaning “from (by or for) one party”. Ex Parte means a legal proceeding brought by one person in the absence of and without representation or notification of other parties invloved in these proceedings.

EX POST FACTO
Ex post facto is the Latin term for ‘By reason of a subsequent act’.

 

Latin law terms beginning with ‘F’

FACIENDUM
Faciendum is the Latin term for ‘Something which is to be done’.

FACTUM
Factum is the Latin term for ‘An act or deed’.

FEUDAL SYSTEM
The word feudal stems from the latin term ‘fief’ which means estate. The feudal system was like a government introduced when William the Conqueror became King of England in 1066.
At the top was the King; under him the barons, then the knigts served the barons, and the peasants served the knights.
The king owned all the land and gave some to the barons who in return had to pay the king taxes on the land or fief (estate). The dispersion of the land then ranked down like the ruling, so the barons would ‘let’ land to the knights and so on.

 

FIERI FACIAS
Fieri Facias is latin for “that you cause to be made” and is a High Court version of warrant of execution in County Court. A directive by a High Court to a sheriff to seize sufficient goods of a debtor to satisfy judgment debt.

 

FRUCTUS NATURALES
Fructus naturales is the Latin term for ‘Vegetation which grows naturally without cultivation’.

G  Latin law terms beginning with ‘G’ 

We currently have no latin law terms beginning with ‘G’

Latin law terms beginning with ‘H’ 

We currently have no latin law terms beginning with ‘H’

I  Latin law terms beginning with ‘I’

ID EST
Id Est (commonly written as i.e, is the Latin term for ‘That is’.

IDEM
Idem is the Latin term for ‘The same person or thing’.

IN CAMERA
In the chamber. The hearing of a case in private without the facts being reported to the public. In Camera is the Latin term for ‘In private’.

IN DELICTO
In delicto is the Latin term for ‘At Fault’.

IN ESSE
In esse is the Latin term for ‘In existence’.

IN EXTENSO
In Extenso is the Latin term for ‘At full length’.

IN FUTORO
In Futoro is the Latin term for ‘In the future’.

IN LIMINE
In limine is the Latin term for ‘At the outset, on the threshold’.

IN LOCO PARENTIS
In loco parentis is the Latin term for ‘In place of the parent’.

IN OMNIBUS
In omnibus is the Latin term for ‘In every respect’.

IN PLENO
In pleno is the Latin term for ‘In Full’. 

IN SITU
In situ is the Latin term for ‘In its place’.

IN TERROREM
In terrorem is the Latin term for ‘As a warning or deterrent’.

INDICIA
Indicia is the Latin term for ‘Marks – signs’.

INTER ALIA
Inter alia is the Latin term for ‘Amongst other things’.

INTER PARTES
The term inter partes is the Latin for “between the parties”. It is used in court proceedings, where third parties have the right to request and fully participate in these proceedings. 

INTER VIVOS TRUST
Inter Vivos is latin for “between the living”. An Inter Vivos Trust is a trust detailing a ‘gift’ made during a person’s lifetime, as opposed to being transferred by will after death, a testamentary trust.

INTERIUM
Interium is the Latin term for ‘Temporary, in the mean time’.

IPSISSIMA VERBA
Ipsissima Verba is the Latin term for ‘The very words of a speaker’.

IPSO FACTO
Ipso Facto is the Latin term for ‘By that very fact’.

J  Latin law terms beginning with ‘J’

JUS
Jus is the Latin term for ‘A right that is recognised in law’.

JUS NATURALE
Jus Naturale is the Latin term for ‘Natural Justice’

K  Latin law terms beginning with ‘K’

We currently have no latin law terms beginning with ‘K’

Latin law terms beginning with ‘L’

LOCUS IN QUO
Locus in quo is the Latin term for ‘Scene of the event’

M  Latin law terms beginning with ‘M’

MAGNUM OPUS
Magnum opus is the Latin term for ‘A great work of literature’.

MALA FIDES
Mala Fides is the Latin term for ‘Bad Faith’
 
MENS REA
Mens Rea is the Latin term for ‘Guilty mind’. The intention to commit an offence whilst knowing it to be wrong.

Latin law terms beginning with ‘N’

NEMO DAT QUOD NON HABET
Nemo dat quod non habet is the Latin term for ‘On one can give a better title than he has’

NEXUS
Nexus is the Latin term for ‘Connection’

NISI
Nisi is the Latin term for ‘Unless’
 
NON COMPUS MENTIS
Non compus mentis is the Latin term for ‘Not of sound mind and understanding’

NON CONSTAT
Non constat is the Latin term for ‘It is not certain’

NON EST FACTUM
Non est factum is the Latin term for ‘It is not his deed’

NON SEQUITUR
Non Sequitur is the Latin term for ‘An inconsistent statement

Latin law terms beginning with ‘O’

ONUS PROBANDI
Onus Probandi is the Latin term for ‘Burden of proof’.

ORSE
Orse is the Latin term for ‘otherwise’.

Latin law terms beginning with ‘P’

PAR DELICTUM
Par Delictum is the Latin term for ‘Equal fault’.

PARI PASSU
Pari Passu is the Latin term for ‘On an equal footing’.

PER
Per is the latin term for through, or by.

PER CURIAM
Per Curiam is the Latin term for ‘In the opinion of the court’.

PER MINAS
Per Minas is the Latin term for ‘By means of menaces or threats’ 

PER PRO
Per Pro is the latin term for ‘on behalf of’.

PER QUOD
Per Quod is the Latin term for ‘By reason of which’.

PER SE
Per Se is the latin term for ‘in itself’, or ‘by itself’.

PER STIRPES
Per Stirpes is the latin term for ‘by branch’. The term may be referred to where an estate of a decendent is shared per stirpes, ie goes to the children in equal shares.

PLENIPOTENTIARY
Plenipotentiary is a term derived from latin and means “full power”. A Plenipotentiary is a person invested with full power, for example a diplomat.

POST MORTEM
Post Mortem is the Latin term for ‘After death’, and is the examination of a deceased person to establish the cause of death.

PRIMA FACIE
Prima Facie is the Latin term for ‘On the face of it’.

PRIMA IMPRESSIONNIS
Prima Impressionis is the Latin term for ‘On first impression’.

PRO BONO
Pro Bono (sometimes known as Pro Bono Publico) is a latin law term describing work undertaken on a voluntary basis or at a reduced cost for the public good. 

PRO HAC VICE
Pro Hac Vice is the Latin term for ‘For this occasion’.

PRO RATA
Pro Rata is the Latin term for ‘In proportion’.

PRO TANTO
Pro Tanto is the Latin term for ‘So far’, or ‘To that extent’.

PRO TEMPORE
Pro Tempore is the Latin term for ‘For the time being’
 
PUBLICI JURIS
Publici Juris is the Latin term for ‘Of public right’

Q  Latin law terms beginning with ‘Q’

QUAEITUR
Quaeitur is the Latin term for ‘The question is raised’.

QUAERE
Quaere is the Latin term for ‘Consider whether it is correct’.

QUANTUM
Quantum is the Latin term for ‘How much’, or ‘An amount’.

QUID PRO QUO
Quid Pro Quo is the Latin term for ‘Consideration’, or ‘Something for Something’

R  Latin law terms beginning with ‘R’

RE
Re is the Latin term for ‘In the matter of’. 

RES
Res is a Latin term for ‘Matter’, or ‘Affair’, or ‘Circumstance’

RES GESTAE
Res Gestae is the Latin term for ‘The thing done’

RES IPSA LOQUITUR
Res Ipsa Loquitur is a latin term meaning ‘the thing speaks for itself’, and is used where proof of an offence is not needed because the facts speak for themself.

RES NULIS
Res Nulis is the Latin term for ‘Nobody’s property’

Latin law terms beginning with ‘S’

SCIENS
Sciens is the Latin term for ‘Knowingly’.

SE DEFENENDO
Se Defendendo is the Latin term for ‘In self defence’.

SECUS
Secus is the Latin term for ‘The legal position is different or otherwise’.

SINE DIE
Sine Die is the latin term for ‘without day’

STATUS QUO 
Status Quo is the Latin term for ‘The state in which’.

STET 
Stet is the Latin term for ‘Do not delete, let it stand’.

SUB MODO 
Sub Modo is the Latin term for ‘Within Limits’.

SUB NOMINE
Sub Nomine is the Latin term for ‘Under the name of’.

SUB SILENTIO
Sub Solentio is the Latin term for ‘In silence’.

SUGGESTIO FALSI
Suggestio Falsi is the Latin term for ‘The suggestion of something which is untrue’.

SUI GENERIS
Sui generis is the Latin term for ‘Unique’, and describes something that belongs in a particular catergory or is the only one of its class.

SUI JURIS
Sui juris is the latin term for ‘of his or her own right’ and may be used to describe someone who can enter into a contract without any restrictions.

SUPPRESSIO VERI
Suppressio Veri is the Latin term for ‘The suppression of the truth’

SUPRA
Supra is a latin term for ‘above’ and may be used in the context “see above in the document”

Latin law terms beginning with ‘T’

TALIS QUALIS
Talis Qualis is the Latin Term for ‘Such as it is’

U  Latin law terms beginning with ‘U’

UBERRIMA FIDES (UBERRIMAE FIDEI)
Uberrima Fides (sometimes seen in its genitive form uberrimae fidei) is the Latin term for ‘In good faith’. In some contracts such as insurance policies one party must disclose any material facts to the other party. If they are not disclosed the contract may not be valid and can be cancelled. 

ULTRA VIRES
Ultra vires is the latin term for ‘beyond one’s powers’. An example of its use is if a company or organisation does something ultra vires, what it has done is invalid.

UNO FLATU
Uno Flatu is the Latin term for ‘At the same moment’, or ‘With one breath’.

USUFRUCT 
The term usufruct derives from ancient Roman law. It means having the right to enjoy the use and possible subsequent advantages of another’s property, provoding the property is not damaged in any way. A usufruct may be granted for life, or maybe for just a specified time.
An example of usufruct is where a husband leaves his home to his children in his will, whilst stipulating that his wife may enjoy usufruct until the day she dies. By doing this he ensures that his wife has the use and enjoyment of the property.

Latin law terms beginning with ‘V’

VENIRE DE NOVO 
Venire De Novo derives from latin and is a judicial order for a new trial after the first trial is declared a mis-trial due to a fundamental or gross irregularity. In criminal courts the jury may be discharged before verdict and a new jury summoned. If the findings are still flawed there may be no verdict at all.
 
VERBA FORTIUS ACCIPIUNTUR CONTRA PROFERENTEM 
Verba Fortius Accipiuntur Contra Proferentem derives from latin translating to “a contract is interpreted against the person who wrote it”.
If terms within a contract are confusing or unclear, or may even have two possible meanings, they should be interpreted against the person behind the writing of the words in the contract and not against the other party.

VERBATIM
Verbatim is the Latin term for ‘Word by word’, or ‘Exactly’.

VERITAS
Veritas is the latin word for ‘truth’. In cases of defamation in Scottish law, the word ‘veritas’ is used where ‘justification’ would be used in English law . 

VICE VERSA
Vice Versa is the Latin term for ‘The other way round’.

VIDE
Vide is the Latin term for ‘See’.

VIDELICET 
Videlicet (abbreviated to viz) is a latin adverb for “to wit”, “namely”, “that is to say” and “as follows”. The term (usually viz) may be found in legal documents advising that there is more detail to follow for a specific piece of information.

VIR
Vir is latin for man or husband. In law, “vir” is an old legal principle implying that man and wife are considered one person. 
 
VOIR DIRE 
Voir Dire derives from the latin phrase “virum dicere” and means to say what is true. In UK Common law voir dire is where both the prosecution (or plaintiff, in a civil case) and defense can object to a juror.
Voir dire can include both general questions asked of an entire pool of prospective jurors, answered by means such as a show of hands, and questions asked of individual prospective jurors and calling for a verbal answer. In some jurisdictions, the attorneys for the parties may question the potential jurors. In other jurisdictions, the trial judge conducts the voir dire.
 
VOLENS
Volens is the Latin term for ‘Willing’

Latin law terms beginning with ‘W’

We currently have no latin law terms beginning with ‘W’

Latin law terms beginning with ‘X’

We currently have no latin law terms beginning with ‘X’

 

Y  Latin law terms beginning with ‘Y’

We currently have no latin law terms beginning with ‘Y’

 

Latin law terms beginning with ‘Z’

We currently have no latin law terms beginning with ‘Z’