Legal Latin Phrases


Latin is of the utmost importance to people who study law. In ancient times, most of Europe was ruled by the Romans. They introduced their language (Latin) and their laws. After the fall of the Roman Empire, barbaric tribes conquered the lands dominated by the Romans. These barbarians could not read or write, so they had to adopt Latin, as that was language in which the laws of the conquered people were written.  Many of the principles and statues, still in practice today, have evolved from ancient Roman law. So it is of no surprise that many terms you hear in detective and law movies and TV shows are in Latin.

  1. Actio libera in causa - Action free in its cause (Legal term - compare with Actio illicita in causa)
  2. Actio semel extincta non reviviscit - Extinguished action does not revive (Legal term)
  3. Actore non probante, reus absolvitur - When the plaintiff does not prove his case, the defendant is absolved (Legal term)
  4. Actori incumbis onus probandi - The plaintiff must prove the case (Legal term)
  5. Actus me invito pactus, non es meus actus - What I did against my will is not my fault (Legal term)
  6. Actus non facit reum nisi mens sit rea - The act does not make a person guilty unless the mind is also guilty (Legal term)
  7. Ad acta - To the archives (Legal term - abbreviated as AA)
  8. Ad auxilium vocatus - The one called to help (Legal term - ad-vocatus = lawyer)
  9. Ad bona - For the good (Legal term - Used in the frase "curator ad bona" in reference to the guardian of estate of minor)
  10. Ad cautelam - As a precaution (Legal term - Refers to a docuement that is not necessary, but it is filed just in case)
  11. Ad effectum vivendi - To the effect of being seen (Legal term)
  12. Ad hoc - For the immediate purpose (Legal term - It is used to described something that was meant for one purpose, but it is used for another. For example, a knife could be used "ad hoc" as a screwdriver. It could also mean the opposite. For example, a law was passed "ad hoc" to help the victims of a disaster)
  13. Ad hominem - To the man (Diplomatic and Legal term - Attack against the man instead of the facts. An “argument ad hominem” tries to discredit the man, instead of his arguments)
  14. Ad hominen tu quoque - Directed to the man, you too (Legal term - You too fallacy - Two wrongs make a right - A fallacy that consist of defending oneself by accusing the accuser of the same crime)
  15. Ad idem - Of the same (Legal term - Meeting of the minds - Both parties of the contract understand and accept the terms)
  16. Ad illic - In that place (Legal term)
  17. Ad impossibilia nemo tenetur - No one is obligated to perform the impossible (Legal term)
  18. Ad inquirendum - To the inquiry (Legal term - Court mandate inquiry of anything related to the case)
  19. Ad iuditium - From judgement (Legal term)
  20. Ad libitum - At will (Legal Term abbreviated as ad lib.)
  21. Ad litem - For the suit (Legal term - "guardian ad litem" refers to a party appointed by a court to represent the interests of another)
  22. Ad maiori ad minus - From major to minor (Legal term - Applied to civil law where if one party has rights to the larger item, it also has it to he smaller one)
  23. Ad quem - To which (Legal term - e.g. Terminus ad quen Limit to which - compare with post quem - after which)
  24. Ad referendum - To reference (Legal term and also Diplomatic term- Indicates that although the main points has been agreed to, there are still details to be worked out later)
  25. Ad solemnitatem - To solemnity (Legal term - Seriousness required to validate the act)
  26. Ad usum - To usage (Legal term - According to custom)
  27. Addictio bonorum libertatum servandorum causa - Property exchanged to gain freedom (Legal term - When a master died, the slaves could obtain the property with the condition that they pay all the creditors)
  28. Adhuc sub iudice lis est - The dispute is still before the judge (Horace - Legal term - Ars poetica)
  29. Aditio a die - Adition to date (Legal term - Condition in which the buyer accepts termination of the sale, if the seller finds a better offer within the deadline stated in the contract)
  30. Aditio haereditatis - Addition of inheritance (Legal term)
  31. Aditio in diem - Adition to date (Legal term - Condition in which the buyer accepts termination of the sale, if the seller finds a better offer within the deadline stated in the contract)
  32. Adoptio naturam imitatur - Adoption imitates nature (Legal-term)
  33. Advocati non ultra quam litium poscit utilitas in licentiam conviciandit et malidicendi temeritati prorrumpant - Lawyers should not employ reckless insults and curses, not having to do with the utility of the Process (Legal term)
  34. Advocatorum error litigatoribus non noceat - An error by the defenders can not harm litigants (Legal term - Codex Iustiniani 2.9.3)
  35. Aequo animo - With a calm mind (Legal term)
  36. Affectio societatis - Intention to form a society (Legal term)
  37. Affidavit - Gave faith (Legal term - A sworn written statement)
  38. Alibi - In another place (Legal term - In legal parlance is used to designate the excuse, namely that a person has not been at the crime scene)
  39. Alieni iuris - Alian right (Legal Term - A person (e.g. a minor) who is legally dependent on another. Compare with sui iuris)
  40. Aliud est punire, aliud vindicare - One thing is to punish, to vindicate is another (Legal Term Leonard Lessius 1554-1623)
  41. Alter parens - Other Parent (Legal term - Person whom something is owe )
  42. Amicus curiae - A friend of the court (Legal term - Advisor in matter of law)
  43. Animus confidenti - Intention to confess (Legal term)
  44. Animus defendendi - Intention to defend (Legal term)
  45. Animus domini - Intent to be owner (Legal term)
  46. Animus donandi - Intention to make a gift (Legal term)
  47. Animus iniuriandi - Intent to injure (Legal term normally written as cum animo iniuriandi)
  48. Animus iocandi - Intent to joke (Legal term)
  49. Animus laedendi - Intent to injure (Legal term)
  50. Animus necandi - Intent to kill (Legal term)
  51. Animus rem sibi habendi - Intent to keep the thing (Legal term)
  52. Animus revertendi - Intent to return (Legal term - Roman law applied to lost animals. They no longer belonged to their owner, if they left the property without the intent to return)
  53. Animus solvendi - Intention to pay (Legal term)
  54. Argumentum a maiori ad minus - Argument from major to minor (Legal term)
  55. Argumentum a minori ad maius - Argument from minor to minor (Legal term)
  56. Argumentum ad antiquitatem - Argument to antiquity (Legal term - Consist of saying that if something is done by tradition then it is not iligal)
  57. Argumentum ad baculum - Argument by the cane (Legal and Philosophical term - Argument by force or threat)
  58. Argumentum ad consequentiam - Argument to the consequences (Legal and Philosophical term)
  59. Argumentum ad cruneman - Argument to the purse (Legal and Philosophical term - A fallacy that says that something must be true because he who makes it is rich - Compare with argumentum ad lazarum)
  60. Argumentum ad iuditium - Argument to the justice (Legal term)
  61. Argumentum ad lazarum - Argument to poverty (Legal and Philosophical term - A fallacy that says that something must be true because he who makes it is poor - Compare with argumentum ad cruneman)
  62. Argumentum ad verecundiam - Argument to respect (Legal term - he said, she said)
  63. Audi et alteram partem - Let us hear the other side (Legal term)
  64. Aut dedere aut iudicare - Either extradite or prosecute (Legal Term - International law)
  65. Beati possidentes - Blessed are those who have (Legal Term - "Possession is nine points of the law")
  66. Bis de eadem re ne sit actio - The action cannot be brought over again (Legal term - Any attempt to obtain a judicial re-hearing of the same question)
  67. Bona fide - In good faith (Legal term - Documents that establish one's credential)
  68. Bona fides semper præsumitur nissi mala adesse probetur - Good faith is always presumed, if bad faith is not proven (Legal term)
  69. Bonae fidei possessor suos facit fructus consumptos - The possessor in good faith makes his the fruits consumed (Legal term - Possession is ninth tens of the law)
  70. Bonum commune praeminet bono singulari unius personae - The common good is more important than the particular good (Legal and Ethical term - Saint Thomas Aquinas - It is, or should be, one of the most important social principles for the state, and foundation of Administrative Law)
  71. Bonum ex íntegra causa, malum ex quocunque defectu - An action is good only if each element in it is good; It is bad if any one of those elements is bad (Legal and Ethical term - Saint Thomas Aquinas)
  72. Brevi manu - With short hand (Legal term - Without legal warrant - Ownership by possession - Compare with longa manu)
  73. Calumniare est falsa crimina intendere - Slander is a false crime charge (Legal term)
  74. Capitis deminutio - Lowering of status (Legal term - Civil death: Lose of liberty, citizenship or family ties)
  75. Casus fortuitus a mora excusat - Fortuitous events should excuse a party (Legal term)

Total: 381
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