Legal Maxims

A Legal Maxim is an established principle or proposition. They are described as of the same strength and effect in the law as statutes.

Not only, will the use of maxims be in deciding doubt and helping soundness of judgment, but, further, in gracing argument, in correcting unprofitable subtlety, and reducing the same to a more sound and substantial sense of law, in reclaiming vulgar errors, and, generally, in the amendment in some measure of the very nature and complexion of the whole law.

The principal collections of legal maxims are:

English Law,
  • Bacon, Collection of Some Principal Rules and Maxims of the Common Law (1630);
  • Noy, Treatise of the principal Grounds and Maxims of the Law of England (1641, 8th ed., 1824);
  • Wingate, Maxims of Reason (1728);
  • Francis, Grounds and Rudiments of Law and Equity (2nd ed. 1751);
  • Lofft (annexed to his Reports, 1776);
  • Broom, Legal Maxims (yth ed. London, 1900).
Scots Law
  • Lord Trayner, Latin Maxims and Phrases (2nd ed., 1876);
  • Stair, Institutions of the Law of Scotland, with Index by More (Edinburgh, 1832).
American Treatises
  • A. I. Morgan, English Version of Legal Maxims (Cincinnati, 1878);
  • S. S. Peloubet, Legal Maxims in Law and Equity (New York, 1880).
  • John Bouvier, A Law Dictionary: Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States of America and of the Several States of the American Union, Revised Sixth Edition, 1856. A long list of maxims is contained in the section for the letter “M“.
  • Anonymous, Latin for Lawyers, Chapter II, “A Collection of over one thousand Latin maxims, with English translations, explanatory notes, and cross-references”, Sweet and Maxwell, 1915.

List of Famous Legal Maxims

  • Inter Alia
  • Acta Exteriora Indicant Interiora Secreta
  • Actio Personalis Moritur Cum Persona
  • Actus Dei Nemini Facit Injuriam
  • Actus Non Facit Reum, Nisi Mens Sit Rea
  • Audi Alteram Partem
  • Caveat Emptor
  • Cessante Ratione Cessat Lex
  • De Minimis
  • De Minimis Non Curat Lex
  • Domus Sua Cuique Est Tutissimum Refugium
  • Expressio Unius Est Exclusio Alterius
  • Ignorantia Facti Excusat, Ignorantia Juris Non Excusat
  • In Jure Non Remota Causa Sed Proxima Spectatur
  • Leges Posteriores Contrarias Abrogant
  • Nemo Dat Quod Non Habet
  • Nemo Debet Bis Vexari Pro Una Et Eadem Causa
  • Nemo Debet Esse Judex In Propria Sua Causa
  • Nemo Est Haeres Viventis
  • Nemo Tenetur Seipsum Accusare
  • Nova Consitutio Futuris Formam Imponere Debet, Non Praeteritis
  • Noscitur A Sociis
  • Nullus Commodum Capere Potest De Injuria Propria
  • Quod Ab Initio Valet In Tractu Temporis Non Convalescit
  • Respondeat Superior
  • Res Ipsa Loquitor
  • Rex Non Potest Peccare
  • Salus Populi Est Suprema Lex
  • Ubi Jus, Ibi Remedium
  • Vigilantibus, Non Dormientibus Jura Subveniunt
  • Volenti Non Fit Injuria

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