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Latin Maxims

1. Legis interpretation legis vim obtinet.

Judicial construction and interpretation of a statute acquires the force of law.
2. Contemporanea exposition est optima et fortissimo in lege.
Contemporary construction is strongest in law.
3. Optima est legum interpres consuetudo.
Custom is the best interpreter of a statute.
4. Regula pro lege, si deficit lex.
In default of the law, the maxim rules.
5. Optimus interpres rerum usus.
The best interpreter of the law is usage.
6. Communis error facit jus.
Common error sometimes passes as current law.
7. Quod ab initio non valet in tractu temporis non convalescit.
That which was originally void, does not by lapse of time become valid.
8. Ratihabitio mandato aequiparatur.
Legislative ratification is equivalent to a mandate.
9. Stare decisis et non quieta movere.
Follow past precedents and do not disturb what has been settled.
10.Interest republicae ut sit finis litium.
The interest of the state demands that there be an end to litigation.
11.Index animi sermo est.
Speech is the index of intention.
12.Animus hominis est anima scripti.
The intention of the party is the soul.
13.Verba legis non est recedendum.
From the words of the statute there should be no departure.
14.Maledicta et exposition quae corrumpit textum.
It is bad construction which corrupts the text.
15.Littera scripta manet.
The written word endures.
16.Clausula rebus sic stantibus.
Things thus standing.
17.Absoluta sentential expositore non indigent.
When the language of the law is clear, no explanation is required.
18.Dura lex sed lex.
The law may be harsh but it is the law.
19.Hoc quidem perquam durum est, sed ita lex scripta est.
It is exceedingly hard, but so the law is written.

20.Aequitas nunquam contravenit legis.

Equity never acts in contravention of the law.
21.Aequum et bonum est lex legume.
What is good and equal is the law of laws.
22.Jus ars boni et aequi.
Law is the art of equity.
23.Ratio legis est anima legis.
The reason of the law is the soul of the law.
24.Littera necat spiritus vivificate.
The letter kills but the spirit gives life.
25.Verba intentioni, non e contra, debent inservice.
Words ought to be more subservient to the intent, and not the intent to the
26.Benignus leges interpretandae sunt, quod voluntas eraum conservetur.
Laws are to be construed liberally, so that their spirit and reason be preserved.
27.Qui haret in littera haret in cortice.
He who considers merely the letter of an instrument goes but skin deep into its
28.Quando verba statute sunt speciali, ratio autem generalia, statum generaliter
est intelligendum.
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.
29.Cessante rationi legis, cessat et ipsa lex.
When the reason of the law ceases, the law itself ceases.
30.Interpretatio talis in ambiguis simper fienda est ut evitetur inconveniens et
Where there is ambiguity, the interpretation of such that will avoid
inconveniences and absurdity is to be adopted.
31.Legis construction non facit injuriam.
The construction of the law will not be such as to work injury or injustice.
32.Argumentum ab inconvenient plurimum valet in lege.
An argument drawn from inconvenience is forcible in law.
33.Verba nihil operari melius est quam absurde.
It is better that words should have no operation at all than that they should
operate absurdly.
34.Lex simper intendit quod convenit rationi.
The law always intends that which is in accordance with reason.
35.Ubi eadem ratio ibi idem jus.
Like reason doth make like law.
36.Argumentum a simili valet in lege.
An argument drawn from a similar case, or analogy, prevails in law.
37.De similibus idem est judicium.
Concerning similars, the judgment is the same.

38.Ubi eadem est ratio, ibi est eadem legis disposition.

Where there is the same reason, there is the same law
39.Ea est accipienda interpretation quae vitio caret.
That interpretation is to be adopted which is free from evil or injustice.
40.Lex injusta non est lex.
An unjust law is not a law.
41.Fiat justitia, ruat coelum .
Let right be done, though the heavens fall.
42.Nemo est supra legis.
Nobody is above the law.
43.Nulla potential supra legis esse debet.
No power must be above the law.
44.Jurae naturae aequum est neminem cum alterius detrimento et injuria fieri
It is certainly not agreeable to natural justice that a stranger should reap the
pecuniary produce of another mans work.
45.Surplusagium non nocet.
Surplusage does not vitiate a statute.
46.Utile per inutile non vitiatur.
The useful is not vitiated by the non-useful.
47.Falsa demostratio non nocet, cum de corpore constat.
False description does not preclude construction nor vitiate the meaning of
the statute.
48.Nil facit error nominis cum de corpora vel persona constat.
Error in name does not make an instrument inoperative when the description
is sufficiently clear.
49.Certum est quod certum reddi potest.
That is sufficiently certain which can be made certain.
50.Ibi quid generaliter conceditur, inest haec exception, si non aliquid sit contras
jus basque.
Where anything is granted generally, exemption from rigid application of law
is implied; that nothing shall be contrary to law and right.
51.Summum jus, summa injuria.
The rigor of the law would be the highest injustice.
52.Jus summum saepe, summa est militia.
Extreme law is often extreme wrong.
53.Nemo tenetur ad impossibilia.
The law obliges no one to perform an impossibility.
54.Impossibilum nulla obigatio est.
There is no obligation to do an impossible thing.
55.Lex non cogit ad impossibilia.
The law does not require an impossibility.

56.Lex non intendit aliquid impossible.

The law does not intend the impossible.
57.Ex necessitate legis.
By the necessary implication of law.
58.In eo quod plus sit, simper inest et minus.
The greater includes the lesser.
59.Cui jurisdiction data est, ea quoque concessa esse videntur sine quibus
jurisdiction explicari non potuit.
When jurisdiction is given, all powers and means essential to its exercise are
also given.
60.Ubi jus, ibi remedium.
Where there is a right, there is a remedy for violation thereof.
61.Ubi jus incertum, ibi jus nullum.
Where the law is uncertain, there is no right.
62.Ex dolo malo non oritur action.
An action does not arise from fraud.
63.Nullius commodum capere potest de injuria sua propria.
No one may derive advantage from his own unlawful act.
64.In pari delicto potior est condition defendentis.
Where the parties are equally at fault, the position of the defending party is
the better one.
65.Quando aliquid prohibetur ex directo, prohibetur et per obliquum.
What cannot, by law, be done directly cannot be done indirectly.
66.Generalia verba sunt generaliter intelligenda.
General words should be understood in their general sense.
67.Generis dictum generaliter est interpretandum.
A general statement is understood in its general sense.
68.Verba accipienda sunt secundum subjectam materiam.
A word is to be understood in the context in which it is used.
69.Verba mere aequivoca, si per communem usum loquendi in intellectu certo
sumuntur, talis intellectus preferendus est.
Equivocal words or those with double meaning are to be understood
according to their common and ordinary sense.
70.Verba artis ex arte.
Words of art should be explained from their usage in the art to which they
71.Verba generalia restringuntur ad habilitatem rei vel personam.
General words should be confined according to the subject-matter or
persons to which they relate.
72.Ubi lex non distinguit necnon distinguere debemus.
Where the law does not distinguish, the courts should not distinguish.
73.Dissimilum dissimilis est ratio.
Of things dissimilar, the rule is dissimilar.

74.Noscitur a sociis.
A thing is known by its associates.
75.Ejesdem generis.
Of the same kind or specie.
76.Expressio unius est exclusion alterius.
The express mention of one person, thing or consequence implies the
exclusion of all others.
77.Expressum facit cessare tacitum.
What is expressed puts an end to that which is implied.
78.Argumentum a contrario.
Negative-Opposite Doctrine: what is expressed puts an end to that which is
79.Cassus omissus pro omisso habendus est.
A person, object or thing omitted from an enumeration must be held to have
been omitted intentionally.
80.Ad proximum antecedens fiat relatio nisi impediatur sentential.
A qualifying word or phrase should be understood as referring to the nearest
81.Reddendo singular singulis.
Referring each to each, or referring each phrase or expression to its
appropriate object, or let each be put in its proper place.
82.Exceptio firmat regulam in casibus non exceptis.
A thing not being expected must be regarded as coming within the purview
of the general rule.
83.Optima statute interpretatrix est ipsum statutum.
The best interpreter of the statute is the statute itself.
84.Ex tota materia emergat resolution.
The exposition of a statute should be made from all its parts put together.
85.Injustum est, nisi tota lege inspecta, de una aliqua ejus particula proposita
indicare vel respondere.
It is unjust to decide or to respond as to any particular part of a law without
examining the whole of the law.
86.Nemo enim aliquam partem recte intelligere possit antequam totum interum
atque interim perlegit.
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.
87.Ex antecendentibus et consequentibus fit optima interpretation.
A passage will be best interpreted by reference to that which precedes and
follows it.
88.Verba posterima propter certitudinem addita ad priora quae certitudine
indigent sunt referenda.
Reference should be made to a subsequent section in order to explain a
previous clause of which the meaning is doubtful.
89.Interpretatio fienda est ut res magis valeat quam pereat.
A law should be interpreted with a view of upholding rather than destroying it.

90.Pari materia.
Of the same matter.
91.Interpretare et concordare leges legibus est optimus interpretandi modus.
Every statute myst be so construed and harmonized with other statutes as to
form a uniform system of law.
92.Distingue tempora et concordabis jura.
Distinguish times and you will harmonize law.
93.Tempora mutantur et leges mutantur in illis.
Times have changed and laws have changed with them.
94.Mutatis mutandis.
With the necessary changes.
95.Salus populi est suprema lex.
The voice of the people is the supreme law.
96.Statuta pro publico commodo late interpretantur.
Statutes enacted for the publc good are to be construed liberally.
97.Privatum incommodum publico bono pensatur.
The private interests of the individual must give way to the accommodation of
the public.
98.Actus non facit reum nisi mens sit rea.
The act does not make a person guilty unless the mind is also guilty.
99.Actus me invito facturs non est meus actus.
An act done by me against my will is not my act.
Privilegia recipiunt largam interpretationem voluntate consonem concedentis.
Privileges are to be interpreted in accordance with the will of him who grants
Renunciatio non praesumitur.
Renunciation cannot be presumed.

Strictissimi juris.
Follow the law strictly.
Nullum tempus occurit regi.
There can be no legal right as against the authority that makes the law on
which the right depends.
Vigilantibus et non dormientibus jura subveniunt.
The law aids the vigilant, not those who slumber on their rights.
Potior est in tempore, potior est in jure.
He who is first in time is preferred in right.
Lex prospicit, non respicit.
The law looks forward, not backward.
Lex de futuro, judex de praeterito.
The law provides for the future, the judge for the past.

Nova constitutio futuris formam imponere debet non praeteritis.
A new statute should affect the future, not the past.
Leges quae retrospciunt, et magna cum cautione sunt adhibendae neque
enim janus locatur in legibus.
Laws which are retrospective are rarely and cautiously received, for Janus has
really no place in the laws.
Leges et constitutiones futuris certum est dare formam negotiis, non ad facta
praeterita revocari, nisi nominatim et de praeterito tempore et adhuc
pendentibus negotiis cautum sit.
Laws should be construed as prospective, not retrospective, unless they are
expressly made applicable to past transactions and to such as are still
Nullum crimen sine poena, nulla poena sine lege.
There is no crime without a penalty, there is no penalty without a law.
Favorabilia sunt amplianda, odiosa restringenda.
Penal laws which are favorable to the accused are given retroactive effect.
Leges posteriores priores contrarias abrogant.
Later statutes repeal prior ones which are repugnant thereto.
Generalia specialibus non derogant.
A general law does not nullify a specific or special law.
Ignorantia legis neminem excusat.
Ignorance of the law excuses no one.
In obscuris inspici solere quod versimilius est, aut quod plerumque
fieri solet.
When matters are obscure, it is customary to take what appears to be more
likely or what usually often happens.
Ambiguitas verborum patens nulla verificatione excluditur.
A patent ambiguity cannot be cleared up by extrinsic evidence.
Ad ea quae frequentibus accidunt jura adaptatur.
Laws are understood to be adapted to those cases which most frequently
Jus constitui oportet in his quae ut plurimum accidunt non quae ex inordinato.
Laws ought to be made with a view to those cases which happen most
frequently, and not to those which are of rare or accidental occurrence.
Quod semel aut bis existit praetereunt legislatores.
Legislators pass over what happens only once or twice.
De minimis non curat lex.
The law does not concern itself with trifling matters.
Nigrum Nunquam Excedere 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).