“Quidquid latine dictum, altum videtur” : Whatever is said in Latin seems astute.(Strauss, Emanuel 1994)

In this list, if an expression has two or more possible meanings, only the meanings in the legal context are given.

ab extra: From outside

ab initio: From the beginning

actus reus: A guilty deed or act

ad hoc: For this purpose

ad infinitum: To infinity, without limit, forever

alibi: Elsewhere, at another place

alimenta: Means of support (i.e., food, clothing, shelter)

aliunde: From elsewhere, from a different source

altercatio: Forensic argumentation; cross-examination

ambigendi locus: Room for doubt, ambiguity

amicus curiae: Friend of the court (i.e., impartial spokesperson)

ante: Before

Bancus Communium Placitorum: Court of Common Pleas

bona mobilia: Moveable property

bona peritura: Perishable goods

bona vacantia: Unclaimed property

bona fide: In good faith

bona fides: Documents proving identity (or ‘good faith’)

bona fiscalia: Publicly accepted financials/property

bona vacantia: Vacant goods, i.e., goods without an owner

cadit quaestio: Question falls, i.e., the matter admits of no further argument

capias ad audiendum: Writ ordering appearance in court

capias ad respondendum: Writ ordering the arrest of a person

capias ad satisfaciendum: Writ ordering satisfaction of an order

certiorari: A write from a High Court to Lower Court

ceteris paribus: Other things being equal

chartae libertatum: Charters of liberties

consensu: Unanimously, by general consent

consensus ad idem: Agreement as to the same things

contra:To the contrary

contra bonos mores: Contrary to good morals

coram non judice: Before one who is not a judge

corpus: Body

corpus delicti: The body of the offense

custos morum: A guardian of morals

custos: Guardian, custodian

de bonis asportatis: Of goods carried away

de die in diem: From day to day

de facto: In fact

de futuro: In the future

de integro: As regards the whole

de jure: Rightful, by right

de lege ferenda: What the law ought to be (as opposed to what the law is)

de lege lata: What the law is (as opposed to what the law ought to be)

de lunatico inquiriendo: A writ to inquire into the insanity of a person

de novo: Starting afresh

dies juridicus: A day on which the court is in session

dies non juridicus: A day on which the court is not in session

doli incapax: Incapable of crime

dominium: Ownership

dubitante: Doubting the correctness of the decision

ei incumbit probatio qui: The onus of proving the fact rests upon a person

et cetera: Other things of that type

ex cathedra: With official authority

ex concessis: In view of what has already been accepted

ex facie: On the fact of it

ex gratia: Out of kindness, voluntarily

ex parte: Proceeding brought by one person in the absense of another

ex post facto: By reason of a subsequent fact

faciendum: Something which is to be done

factum: An act, or a deed

felo de se: A suicide

fieri facias: writ authorizing execution of a judgment

fructus naturales: Vegetation which grows naturally without cultivation

Habemus Papam: We have a Pope (an anouncement upon the successful election of a new Pope).

idem: The same person or being

id est (i.e): That is

in camera: In private

in delicto: At fault

indicia: Indication, signs

in esse: In existence

in extenso: At full length

in limine: At the outset, on the threshold

in loco parentis: In place of a parent

in omnibus: In every respect

in pleno: In full

in situ: In its place

in solidum: In the whole (in solidarity).

In situations where several co-obligants are bound “in solidum”, each is liable in full payment or performance. The claimant may choose which of the obligants will be sued. Every person whose name appears on a bill, whether as acceptor or endorser, is liable in full payment of its contents. After payment, s/he may do diligence against the others for relief.

Term ‘in solidum’ is contrasted with term ‘pro rata’. To be bound ‘pro rata’ is in a joint obligation to not be bound for the whole but only for their share.

inter alia: Amongst other things

interium: Temporary; in the meanwhile

in terrorem: As a warning or a deterrent

ipsissima verba: The very words of a speaker

ipso facto: By that very fact, as a matter of fact

jus: A justified right recognised in law

jus naturale: Natural justice

lex talionis: The law of retaliation

locus in quo: Scene of the event

locum tenens: A deputy

magnum opus: The great work of literature

mala fides: Bad faith

mens rea: Guilty state of mind

mutatis mutandis: Things being changed which are to be changed.

If a proprietor of an estate fues his lands, and the feu contracts all contain the same general clauses, the same obligations on the feuars and confer the same rights. In such a case two of the feu charters are said to be the same mutatis mutandis, that is, they are the same, if (or when) the name of the disponee, the particular description of the lands feued, and other such-like particulars which are peculiar to each, are changed.

nemo dat quod non habet: No one can give a better title than he has

nexus: Connection

nisi: Unless

non compus mentis: Not of sound mind and understanding

non constat: It is not certain

non est factum: It is not of his deed

non sequitur: It does not follow, i.e., an inconsistent statement

onus probandi: Burden of proof

orse: Otherwise

par delictum: Equal fault

pari passu: On an equal footing

per curiam: In the opinion of the court

per minas: By means of menaces or threats

per quod: By reason of which

post mortem: After death

prima facie: On the face of it

prima impressionis: On first impression

pro hac vice: For this occasion

pro rata: Proportional; per rate.

In a situation where several debtors are each liable for a share or proportion only, they are said to be bound “pro rata”. Term ‘pro rata’ is contrasted with ‘in solidum’ – where several debtors are each liable for the whole debt.

An example of both phrases may be found in the liabilty of partners; each is liable “in solidum” for the debts of the partnership in relation to creditors, but each is liable only “pro rata” in relation to between themselves.

pro tanto: So far; to that extent

pro tempore: For the time being

publici juris: Of public right

quaere: Consider whether it is correct

quaeitur: The question is raised

quantum: How much; an amount

quid pro quo: Consideration; something for something

quo vadis: where to, what’s up

re: In the matter of…

res: Matter, affair, thing, circumstance

res gestae: The thing done

res nulis: Nobody’s property

sciens: Knowingly

secus: The legal position is different, it is otherwise

stet: Do not delete, let it stand

sub modo: Within limits

sub nomine: Under the name of

sub silentio: In silence

suggestio falsi: The suggestion of something which is untrue

sui generis: Unique

suppressio veri: The suppression of the truth

talis qualis: Such as it is

uberrima fides: Good faith

uno flatu: In an instant, at one go

verbatim: Word by word, exactly

vice versa: The other way around, in reverse

vide: See

volens: Willing


Latin Proverbs:

  • Abbati, medico, patrono que intima pande.

“Conceal not the truth from thy physcian and lawyer”

  • Aliis si licet, tibi non licet

“If others are allowed to, that does not mean you are”

  • Auctoritas non veritas facit legem

“Authority, not truth, makes law”

  • carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero

“Seize the day, believing as little as possible in the next”

  • Corruptissima re publica plurimae leges

“The greater the degeneration of the republic, the more of its laws”

  • Corticis et ligni medium ne fixerius ungeum

“Mind your own business”

  • Disputatio ergo sum

“I dispute, then I am”

  • Ductus Exemplo

“Lead by Example”

  • Et ipsa scientia potestas est.

“And knowledge itself, is power”

  • Ex malis moribus bonae leges natae sunt.

“Good laws have sprung from bad customs”

  • Festina lente

“Haste slowly”

  • Gloriosum est iniurias oblivisci.

“Glorious it is, to forget injustice”

  • Ignorantia legis non excusat

“Ignorance of the law is no excuse”

  • In dubio pro reo

“In doubt, favor the accused”

  • Ira furor brevis est.

“Anger is brief insanity”

  • Mala hostibus eveniant.

“Shame takes whom shame he thinks”

  • Malum consilium quod mutari non potest.

“Bad plan that which cannot be changed”

  • Ne quid nimis

“Never too much”

  • Nemo iudex in causa sua.

“No one can judge his own case”

  • Nulla poena sine lege

“No punishment without a law”

  • Nulla regula sine exceptione

“No regulation without exception”

  • Pacta sunt servanda

“Pacts/Agreements must be honoured”

  • Philosophum non facit barba

“Beards do not make philosophers”

  • Praemonitus, praemunitus

“Forewarned (is) forearmed”

  • Qui rogat, non errat.

“He who enquires, doesn’t err”

  • Qui scribit, bis legit.

“He who writes, reads twice”

  • Qui tacet consentire videtur, ubi loqui debuit ac potuit.

“He who is silent when ought to speak, is seen to agree”

Accumulated by: Mohamed Raffa, LLM, FCIArb