There are uncountable numbers of legal maxims. Ain-qanoon.com shall mention important maxims of law in its site for academic, judicial and research purposes.When the law was incomplete, inadequate and defective, the maxim of equity was applicable. There were twelve famous maxims of equity:
- Equity will not suffer a wrong to be without a remedy;
- Equity follows the law;
- He who seeks equity must do equity;
- He who comes to equity must come with clean hands;
- Delay defeats equity;
- Equality is equity;
- Equity looks to the intent rather than to the form;
- Equity looks on that as done which ought to be done;
- Equity imputes an intention to fulfill an obligation;
- Equity acts in personam;
- Where the equities are equal, the first in time shall prevail;
- Where there is equal equity, the law shall prevail.
Maxims of Law
(A compilation of important maxims in law and equity by Ahamuduz zaman, Founder: ain-qanoon.com)
A coelo usque and centrum. [From heaven to the centre of the earth.] In principle, the extent of the right of the owner of property.
a tempore cujus contrarii memoria non existet. [From a time of which there is no memory to the contrary.]
a verbis legis non est recedendum. [ You must not vary the words of a statute.]
absoluta sentential expositore non indiget. [When you have plain words capable of only one interpretation, no explanation of them is required.]
accusare nemo se debet; accusare nemo se debet nisi coram deo. [No one is bound to accuse himself except to God.] A witness is not bound to answer any question which in the opinion of the court would incriminate him.
acta exteriora indicant interiora secreta. [External actions show internal secrets.] Intention may be inferred from a person’s acts.
action personalis moritur cum persona. [A personal action dies with the person.] No executor or administrator could sue or be sued for any tort committed against, or by, the deceased in his lifetime (except injuries to property); the right of action in tort was destroyed by the death of the injured or injuring party, because an action in tort was regarded originally as purely punitive and only later as compensatory. The rule was largely abolished by the Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1934, which provided that on the death of a person all causes of action subsisting against or vested in him should survive against, or for the benefit of, his estate with the exception of: defamation, seduction, enticement of a spouse, and claims for damages for adultery.
actus curiae neminem gravabit. [An act of the court shall prejudice no one.]
actus Dei nemini facit injuriam. [The act of God prejudices no one.] See ACT OF GOD.
actus legis nemini facit injuriam. [The act of the law injures no one.]
actus non facit reum, nisi mens sit rea. [The act itself does not constitute guilt unless done with a gulty intent.] See MENS REA.
ad quaestionem facti non respondent judices; ad quaestionem juris non respondent juratores. [The judge does not dicide questions of fact and the jury do not decide questions of law.]
adversus extraneos vitiosa possession prodesse solet. [Prior possession is a good title of ownership against all who cannot show a better.]
Advocate, Lord. The chief law officer of the Crown in Scotland.
aedificatum solo, solo cedit. [What is built on the land is to be regarded as having become part of the land.] See QUICQUID PLANTATUR SOLO, SOLO CEDIT.
aequitas sequitur legem. [Equity follows the law.]
aliquis non debet esse judex in propria causa quia non potest esse judex et pars. [ No man ought to be a judge in his own cause, because he cannot act as a judge and at the same time be a party.]
ambulatoria est voluntas deuncti usque ad vitae supremum exitum. [The will of a deceased person is ambulatory until the latest moment of life.]
argumentum ab inconvenienti plurimum valet in lege. [An argument based on inconvenience is of great weight in the law.]
audi alteram partem. [Hear the other side.] That no one shall be condemned unheard, is one of the principles of natural justice (q.v.).
Benignae faciendae sunt interpretations et verba intentioni debent inservire.( Liberal interpretation should be the rule, and the words should be made to carry out the intention).
Boni judicis est apliare jurisdictionem. (It is the duty of a good judge to extend his jurisdiction) (Not to be taken too literally).
causa causans. The immediate cause: the last link in the chain of causation. It is to be distinguished from causa sine qua non, which means some preceding link but for which the causa causans could not have become operative. The reason behind the act;
causa proxima non remota spectator. [The immediate, not the remote, cause is to be considered.] In marine insurance the loss must be a direct consequence of the peril insured against, so that if the proximate cause of the loss is not a peril insured against, there is no liability. Similarly, in contracts of carriage by sea, the shipowner is not liable for damage in case of “excepted perils” and the test is whether the excepted peril was in fact the direct or dominant cause of the loss or damage, though not necessarily the last cause in point of time. See, e.g., Hamilton v. Pandorf (1887) 12 App. Cas. 518.
causa sine qua non. see CAUSA CAUSANS ,the result of the act;
consensus non concubitus facit matrimonium. [Consent and not cohabitation constitutes a valid marriage.]
consuetude est altera lex. [A custom has the force of law.]
cujus est dare ejus est disponere. [He who gives anything can also direct how the gift is to be used.]
cujus est solum ejus est usque and coelum. [Whose is the soil, his is also that which is above it.]
damnum absque injuria. [Loss without wrong.] Loss or damage for which there is no legal remedy.
damnum sine injuria esse potest. There may be damage or loss inflicted without any act being done which the law deems an injury. For instance, harm may be caused by a person exersing his won rights of property (Mayor of Bradford v. Picles  A.C. 587) or by trade competition (Mogul Steamship Co. v. McGregor Gow & Co.  A.C. 25).
domus sua cuique est tutissimum refugium. [To every one his house is his surest refuge.] Every man’s house is his castle. See Semayne’s Case (1604) 5 Clke 91.
dona clandestina sunt semper suspiciosa. [Clandestine gifts are always to be regarded with suspicion.]
donatio mortis causa. A gift of personal property in anticipation of death. To be a valid gift it must be made in contemplation of the donor’s death, be intended to take effect on his death from his existing illness (unless the donor indicates otherwise), and be completed by the delivery at the time to the donee.
ei incumbit probatio qui dicit, non qui negat. [The burden of proof is on him who alleges, and not on him who denies.]
ei qui affirmat, non ei qui negat, incumbit probatio. [The burden of proof lies on him who affirms a fact, not on him who denies it.]
equity, maxims of .
- Equity acts in personam.
- Equity acts on the conscience.
- Equity will not suffer a wrong to be without a remedy.
- Equity follows the law.
- Equity looks to the intent rather than the form
- Equity looks on that as done which ought to be done.
- Equity imputes an intent to fulfil an obligation.
- Equitable remedies are discretionary.
- Delay defeats equities.
- He who comes into equity must come with clean hands.
- He who seeks equity must do equity.
- Equity regards the balance of convenience.
- Where there are equal equities the law prevails.
- Where there are equal equities the first in time prevails.
- Equity, like nature, does nothing in vain.
- Equity never wants (i.e., lacks) a trustee.
- Equity aids the vigilant.
- Equity is equity.
- Equity will not assist a volunteer.
- Equity will not permit a statute to be a cloak for fraud.
ex diuturnitate temporis omnia praesumuntur esse rite et solennitur acta. [From lapse of time, all things are presumedto have been done rightly and regularly.]
ex dolo malo non oritur action. [No right of action can have its origin in fraud.]
ex maleficio non oritur contractus. [ A contract cannot arise out of an illegal act.]
ex nudo pacto non oritur actio. [No action arises from a nude contract.] A contract entered into without consideration cannot be enforced.
ex turpi causa non oritur action. [An action does not arise from a base cause.] e.g., an illegal contract is void. See ILLEGAL.
falsa demonstratio non nocet. [A false description does not vitiate a document.] Thus if part of a description is true and part false, if the true part describes the subject with sufficient certainty, the untrue part will be rejected or ignored.
Generale tantum valet in generalibus quantum singulare in singulis. (when words are general they are to be taken in a general sinse, just as words relating to a particular thing are to be taken as referring only to that thing).
Generalia specialibus non derogant. (general things do not derogate from special things).
Generalibus specialia derogant. (special things derogate from general things).
Haeres legitimus est quem nuptiae demonstrant. (The lawful heir is he whom wedlock shows so to be).
id certum est quod certum redid potest. [That is certain which can be made certain.]
Ignorantia eorum quae quis scire tenetur non excusat. [Ignorance of those things which everyone is bound to know does not constitute an excuse.]
Ignorantia facti excusat; ignorantia juris non excusat. (ignorance of the fact excuses; ignorance of the law does not excuse).
Ignorantia juris quod quisque scire tenetur non excusat. [Ignorance of the law which everybody is supposed to know does not afford excuse.]
impossiblilium nulla obligato est. [Impossibility is an excuse for the non-performance of an obligation.] See IMPOSSIBLITY.
impotentia excusat legem. [Impotency excuses law.] To an obligation imposed by law, impossibility of performance is a good excuse.
in aequali jure melior est conditio possidentis. [Where the rights of the parties are equal, the claim of the actual possessor is the stronger.]
in ambiguis orationibus maxime sentential spectanda est ejus qui eas protulisset. [In dealing with ambiguous words the intention of him who used them should especially be regarded.]
in casu extremae necessiatis omina sunt communia. [In cases of extreme necessity, everything is in common.]
in contractis tacite insunt quae sunt moris et consuetudinis. [The clauses which are in accordance with custom and usage are an implied part of every contract.]
in conventionibus contrahentium voluntas potius quam verba spectari placuit. [ In construing agreements the intention of the parties, rather than the words actually used, should be considered.]
in jure non remota causa, sed proxima spectatur. [In law the proximate, and not the remote, cause is to be regarded.]
in pari causa petior est conditio possidentis. [Everyone may keep what he has got, unless and until someone else can prove a better title.]
in pari delicto, potior est conditio possidentis. [Where both parties are equally in fault, the condition of the possessor is the best.]
inclusio unius est exclusio alterius. [The inclusion of one is the exclusion of another.]
injuria non excusat injuriam. [One wrong does not justify another.]
inter arma leges silent. [Between armies the law is silent.] As between the State and its external enemies the laws are silent, and as regards subjects of the State, laws may be silenced by necessity in time of war or disturbance.
interest reipublicae ne maleficia impunita. [It is a matter of public concern that wrongdoings are not left unpunished.]
interest reipublicae ne sua re quis male utatur. [It concerns the State that no one should make a wrongful use of his property].
interest reipublicae ut sit finis litium. [It concerns the State that lawsuits be not protracted.]
judici officium suum excedenti non paretur. [Effect is not given to the decision of a judge delivered in excess of his jurisdiction.]
jura eodem modo destituuntur quo constituuntur. [Laws are abrogated by the same means by which they were made.]
jura publica anteferenda privatis. [Public rights are to be preferred to private.]
juratores sunt judices facti. [Juries are the judges of act.]
juris praecepta sunt haec:honeste vivere,alterum non laedere, suum cuique tribuere. (These are the precepts of the law: to live honestly, to hurt no one, and to give to every man his own).Justinian.
jus ex injuria non oritur. [A right does not arise out of a wrong.]
jus publicum privatorum pactis mutari non potest. [Public law is not to be superseded by private agreements.]
lata culpa dolo aequiparatur. [Roman Law.] Gross negligence is equivalent to fraud.
lex spectal naturae ordinem. [The law has regard to the order of nature.]
lis alibi pendens. [A suit pending elsewhere.] Actions may be stayed on this ground.
Mala grammatical non vitiate chartam.(bad grammar does not vitiate a deed).
Maledicta exposition quae corrumpit textum. (it is a bad exposition which corrupts the text.)
Malicious injuries to property. Certain willful injuries to property are crimes as well as torts; e.g.. arson, and trespassing destructively (see the malicious Damage Act, 1861).
Malicious injury to the person. A felony, the punishment for which is imprisonment for life (offences against the Person Act, 1861, s.18);
Mandatarius terminus sibi positos transgredi non potest. (A mandatory cannot exceed the limit imposed upon him).
Melior est condition possidentis st rei quam actoris. (The position of the possessor is the better; and that of the defendant is better than that of the plaintiff.)
Modus et conventio vincunt legem. (Custom and agreement overrule law). Within limits, the parties to a contract can make their own rules.
Modus legem dat donationi (Agreement gives law to the gift). E.g. the agreement for the transfer of land settles the conditions upon which the land is to be held.
nec tempus nec locus occurrit regi. [Neither time nor place affects the King.]
nec vi, nec clam, nec precario. [Not by violence, stealth, or entreaty.] User as of right, in order to found a title by prescription to an easement, must be loggus usus nec per vim, nec clam, nec precario [long use not by violence, stealth or entreaty].
necessitas inducit privilegium guoad jura privata. [Necessity gives a privilege as to private rights] See NECESSITY
necessitas non habet legem. [Necessity knows no law.}
necessitas publica major est quam privata. [Public necessity is greater than private.]A maxim favoured by the Executive (q.v.).
neminem oportet legibus esse sapientiorem. [It is not permitted to be wiser than the laws.]
nemo admittendus est inhabilitare seipsum. [Nobody is to be permitted to incapacitate himself.]
nemo agit in seipsum. [No one can take proceedings against himself.]
nemo contra factum suum properium venire potest. [No one can go against his own deed.]
nemo debet his puniri pro uno delicto. [No one should be punished twice for one fault.]
nemo debet esse judex in propria causa. [No one can be judge in his own cause.] A judge may not have any pecuniary or personal interest in a case which he tries. If he has some interest he must declare it, e.g., shares in a company which is party to an action.
nemo est haeres viventis. [No one is the heir of anyone who is alive.]
nemo ex properio dolo consequitur actionem. [No one obtains a cause of action by his own fraud.]
nemo ex suo delicto meliorem suam conditionem facere potest. [No one can improve his position by his own wrongdoing.]
nemo plus juris ad alium transferre potest, quam ipse haberet. [The title of an assignee can be no better than that of his assignor.]
nemo potest esse simul actor et judex. [No one can be at once suitor and judge.]
nemo potest facere per alium, quod per se non potest. [No one can do through another what he cannot do himself.]
nemo potest plus juris ad alium transferre quam ipse habet. [No one can transfer a greater right to another than he himself has.]
nemo prohibetur pluribus defensionibus uti. [No one is forbidden to use several defences.]
nemo tenetur ad impossibile. [No one is required to do what is impossible.]
nemo tenetur se ipsum accusare. [No one is bound to incriminate himself.]
nihil facit error nominis cum de corpore constat. [A mistake as to the name has no effect when there is no mistake as to who is the person meant.]
non omne quod licet honestum est. [All things that arelawful are not honourable.]
non possessori incumbit necessitas probandi possessiones ad se pertinere. [A person in possession is not bound to prove that what he possesses belongs to him.]
non potest rex gratiam facere cum injuria et damno aliorum. [ The king cannot confer a favour on one man to the injury and damage of others.]
non refert an quis assensum suum praefert verbis, an rebus ipsis et factis. [It matters not whether a man gives his assent by his words, or by his acts and deeds.]
non refert quid notum sit judici, si notum non sit in forma judicii. [It matters not what is known to the judge, if it be not known judicially.]
omne quod inaedificatur solo cedit. [Everything which is built into the soil is merged therein.]
omne testamentum morte consummatum est. [Every will is completed by death] A will is ambulatory until death.
omnes licentiam habent his, quae pro se indulta sunt, renunciare. [Everyone has liberty to renounce those things which are granted for his benefit.]
omnia praesumuntur contra spoliatorem. [All things are presumed against a wrongdoer.] As in Armory v. Delamirie (1722) I Strange 504, where jewels were presumed, as against a wrongful possessor, to be of the finest quality.
omnia preaesummuntur legitime facta donec probetur in contrarium. [All things are presumed to have been legitimately done, until the contrary is proved.]
omnia praesumuntur rite et solenniter esse acta. [All acts are presumed to have been done rightly and regularly.]
pacta dant legem contractui. [Agreements constitute the law of the contract.]
pacta quae contra leges constitutionesque vel contra bonos mores fiunt, nullam vim habere, indubitati juris est. [It is undoubted law that agreements which are contrary to the laws and constitutions, or contrary to good morals, have no force.]
privilegium non valet contra rempublicam. [A privilege avails not against the State.]
qui facit per alium facit per se. [He who acts through another is deemed to act in person.] A principal is liable for the acts of his agents.
qui haeret in litera haeret in cortice. [He who sticks in the letter sticks in the bark.] i.e., he does not get at the substance or the meaning.
qui jure suo utitur neminem laedit. [He who exercises his legal right inflicts upon no one any injury.]
qui jussu judicis aliquod fecerit non videtur dolo malo fecisse quia parere necesse est. [He who does anything by command of a judge will not be supposed to have acted from an improper motive; because here is an obligation to obey.]
qui omne dicit nihil excludit. [He who says everything excludes noting.]
qui per alium facit, per seipsum facere videtur. [He who does anything by another is deemed to have done it himself.]
qui prior est tempore potior est jure. [He who is first in time has the strongest claim in law.]
qui sentit commodum sentire debet et onus; et e contra. [He who enjoys the benefit ought also to bear the burden; and vice versa.]
qui tacet consentire videtur. [He who is silent is deemed to consent.] A party’s silence will render statements made in his presence evidence against him of their truth, when he is reasonably called on to reply; e.g., A said to B: “You know you always promised to marry me, and now you don’t keep your word.” B kept silent. Held, this was admissible in evidence to prove the promise of marriage (Bessela v. Stern (1887) 2 C.P.D. 265). In criminal law, the refusal by a person charged with an offence to make a statement or disclose his defence is not to be deemed a confession. See R. v. Leckey  K. B. 80.
qui tam pro domino rege quam pro si ipso in hac parte sequitur. [Who sues on behalf of our Lord the King as well as for himself.] An action brought by an informer. See PENAL ACTION.
quivult decipi decipiatur. [If a man wants to be deceived, then let him be deceived.]
quiequid plantatur solo, solo cedit. [Whatever is affixed to the soil belong to the soil.]
quicquid solvitur, solvitur secundum modum solventis; quicquid recipitur, recipitur secundum modum recipientis. [Whatever is paid, is paid according to the intention or manner of the party paying; whatever is received, is received according to the intention or manner of the party receiving]
quibet potest renunciare juri prose introducto. [Every man is entitled to renounce a right introduced in his favour.]
quod ab initio non valet, in tractu temporis non convalescit. [That which is bad from the beginning does not improve by length of time
quod aedificatur in area legata cedit legato. [That which is built on ground that is devised passes to the devisee.]
quod contra legam fit, pro infecto habetur. [What is done contrary to law is deemed not to have been done at all.]
quod fieri non debet, factum valet. [A thing which ought not to have been done may nevertheless be perfectly valid when it is done.]
quod non apparet non est. [That which does not appear does not exist.]
quod nullius est, est domini regis. [That which is the property of nobody, belongs to our Lord the King.]
quod per me non possum, nec per alium. [What I cannot do in person, I cannot do by proxy.]
quod prius est verius; et quod prius est tempore potius est jure. [What is first is truer; and what is first in time is better in law.]
quod semel meum est amplius meum esse non potest. [What is once mine cannot be more fully mine.
quod semel placuit in electione, amplius displicere non potest. [Where election is once made it cannot be revoked.)
quoties in verbis nulla est ambiguitas ibi nulla expositio contra verba expressa fienda est. [When in the words there is no ambiguity then no interpretation contrary to the actual words is to be adopted.]
res accessoria sequitur rem principalem. [Accessory things follow principal things.]
res ipsa loquitur. [The thing speaks for itself.] The maxim applies whenever it is so improbable that such an accident would have happened without the negligence of the defendant, that reasonable jury could find without further evidence that it was so caused (see Scott v. London and St. Katherine’s Docks Co. (1865) 3 H. * C. 596). For example, in Byrne v. Boadle (1863) 2 H. & C. 722, a barrel of flour rolled out of an open doorway on the upper floor of the defendant’s war house and fell upon the plaintiff, a passer-by in the street below. It was held that this of itself was sufficient evidence of negligence to go to a jury.
res judicata pro veritate accipitur. [A thing adjudicated is received as the truth.] A judicial decision is conclusive until reversed, and its verity cannot be contradicted. Res judicata presupposes that there are two opposing parties, that there is a definite issue between them, that there is a tribunal competent to decide the issue, and that within its competence, the tribunal has done so, Once a matter or issue between parties has been litigated and decided, it cannot be raised again between the same parties, but other parties are not so bound
res sua nemini servit. [no one can have an easement over his own property]
rex non potest peccare. [The King can do no wrong.]
rex nunquam moritur. [The King never dies.]
rex quod injustum est facere non potest. [The King cannot do what is unjust.]
semper praesumitur pro legitimatione puerorum. [It is always to be presumed that children are legitimate.]
semper praesumitur pro negante. [The presumption is always in favour of the negative.]
sic utere tuo ut alienum non leades. [So use your own property as not to injure your neighbour’s] See NUISANCE.
ubi aliquied conceditur, conceditur et id sine quo res ipsa esse non potest. [Where anything is granted, that is also granted without which the thing itself is not able to exist.]
ubi eadem ratio ibi idem jus. [Like reasons make like law.]
ubi jus ibi remedium. [Where there is a right, there is a remedy.] See, e.g., Ashby v. White (1703) 2 Ld. Raym. 955.
ubi remedium ibi jus. [Where there is a remedy there is a right.] The maxim of early law before development.
utlima volunteas testatoris est perimplenda secundum veram intentionem suam. [Effect is to be given to the last will of a testator according to his true intention.]
ut res magis valeat quam perest. [It is better for a thing to have effect than to be made void.] See Roe vl. Tranmarr (1757) Willes 682.
verba accipienda sunt secundum subjectam materiem. [Words are to be interpreted in accordance with the subject-matter.]
verba chartarum fortius accipiuntur contra proferentem. [The words of deeds are to be interpreted most strongly against him who uses them.]
verba cum effectu accipienda sunt. [Words are to be interpreted in such a way as to give them some effect.]
verba ffortius accipiuntur contra proferentem. [Words must be construed agaisnt those who use them.]
verba generalia restringuntur ad habilitatem rei vel aptitudinem personae. [General words are restricted to the nature of the subject-matter or the aptitude of the person.]
verba intentioni, non e contra, debent inservire. [Words ought to be mde subservient to the intent, and not the other way about.]
verba ita sunt intelligenda ut res magis valeat quam pereat. [ Words are to be understood that the object may be carried out and not fail.]
verba posteriora, propter certitudinem addita, ad priora, quae certitudine indigent, sunt referenda. [Subsequent words, added for the purpose of certainty, are tobe refereed to preceding words which need certainty.]
verba relata hoc maxime operantur per referentiam ut in eis inesse videntur. [Words to which reference is made in an instrument have the same operation as if they were inserted in the instrument referring to them.]
Volenti non fit injuria. [That to which a man consents cannot be considered an injury.] No act is actionable as a tort at the suit of any person who has expressly or impliedly assented to it; no one can enforce a right which he has voluntarily waived or abandoned.
The maximum applies to: (1) intentional acts which would otherwise be tortuous; e.g., taking part in a boxing match; (2) running the risk of accidental harm which would otherwise be actionable as negligence; e.g., watching motor racing (Hall v. Brooklands Auto-racing Club  1 K.B. 205). Consent, express or implied, may negative the existence of mens rea in crime: thus a person can effectively consent to certain acts being done; e.g., a surgical operation, or seduction, which would otherwise be criminal acts. But if an act is itself unlawful and criminal it cannot be rendered lawful because the person to whose detriment it is done consents to it. No person can license another to commit a crime (R.v. Donovan  2 K.B. at p. 507).
Consent must be real, and given without force, force, fear or fraud, because fraud vitiates consent. There is no consent where a man acts under the compulsion of legal or moral duty (Haynes v. Harwood  1 K. B. 146). Mere knowledge of a risk does not amount to consent; the maximis volenti-not scienti-non fit injuriea, but it cannot apply in the absence of negligence.
Visitors are also suggested to visit following links: Volenti non fit injuria & Sic utere tuo ut alienum non laedas and Common Legal Error and Research and Law Books for more details...
(Compiled by: Ahamuduz zaman, Founder: ain-qanoon.com.)