Skip to main content

Full text of "A collection of Latin maxims and phrases literally translated : Intended for the use of students for all legal examinations"

See other formats








Cornell University Library 
KD 315.C84 1913 

A collection of Latin maxims and phrases 

3 1924 021 688 670 






Digitized by Microsoft® 

QJnrupll ICam Bcl^aal Blibratg 

Digitized by Microsoft® 

This book was digitized by Microsoft Corporation in 

cooperation witli Cornell University Libraries, 2007. 

You may use and print this copy in limited quantity 

for your personal purposes, but may not distribute or 

provide access to it (or modified or partial versions of it) 

for revenue-generating or other commercial purposes. 

Digitized by Microsoft® 




Digitized by Microsoft® 

The original of tiiis book is in 
tine Cornell University Library. 

There are no known copyright restrictions in 
the United States on the use of the text. 

' Digitized by Microsoft® 





Xiteralli? UranslateD. 





" Scire leges : non est verba earum tenere, sed vim ac mentem.*' 
*' Maxima ita dicto quia maxima est ejus dignitas, et certissima auctorttas, 
atque quod maximfe omnibus probetur." — Co. Litt., i Inst. xi. 





Digitized by Microsoft® 

1^0 i I 

Digitized by Microsoft® 


The Author, from the commencement of his study of 
the law, and more especially during his course of reading 
for the intermediate and final examinations, became con- 
vinced of the very great advantage to be reaped from a 
knowledge of the leading Latin Maxims, now so frequently 
quoted in all legal works ; those given hereafter will 
be found to comprise all that occur in the recognised 
examination text-books, having been collected from such 

It will be remembered that a maxim is a general 
principle and universally approved leading truth ; there- 
fore, even the most elementary student cannot do better 
than store away in his memory some of the more 
important of these rules as a foundation for future study. 
At every law examination questions are to be found 
that bear directly on some one or other of the principles 
contained in these maxims, and they are often quoted, 
the student being required to translate and explain 
their meaning and application — they are, in fact, equally 
important with Leading Cases, 

Digitized by Microsoft® 


Those maxims only have been selected which are 
constantly met with by the student, and which he would 
do well to commit to memory ; leading cases are also 
referred to. The explanations have been made as 
brief as possible, and for deeper research the student 
is referred to Broom's Legal Maxims. 

Walsall, i88i. 

Digitized by Microsoft® 


After a busy and practical experience of many years 
the writer can now in all earnestness — as during the 
days of studentship he did in all distrust and doubtful- 
ness — emulate the writer of old who said — 

" Cognitio legis est copulata et complicata." 

Our greatest writers of more recent years have also 
recognised the intricate and ever-changing study of the 
Law. The late Lord Tennyson, in that most beautiful 
poem, " Aylmer's Field," tells us — 

" So Leolin went ; and as we task ourselves 
To learn a language known but smatteringly 
In phrases here and there at random— toiled 
Mastering the lawless science of our law, 
That codeless myriad of precedent. 
That wilderness of single instances, 
Thro' which a few, by wit or fortune led. 
May beat a pathway out to wealth and fame." 

Those who wish to follow successfully the law as a 
profession must remain students to the last, and the 
leading truths and time-honoured legal principles, as 

Digitized by Microsoft® 


defined by the maxims hereafter contained, will ever 
serve alike as safe landmarks, and sheet anchors, in times 
of doubt and uncertainty. 

Since the publication of the First Edition, the number 
of maxims (very properly defined as the condensed good 
sense of nations) has been considerably enlarged, but 
the student will find the more important ones prefixed 
by an asterisk, and these may with advantage be 

Walsall, 1913. 

Digitized by Microsoft® 



* 1. A verbis legis non recedendum est. The words of 
tJie law must not be departed from. 

Acts of Parliament must be interpreted strictly accord- 
ing to the express letters of their respective clauses. 
Although in certain cases an equitable construction can 
be placed on the words, yet this principle is confined 
within certain limits ; and a judge cannot, in favour of a 
presumable intention, depart from such words when, for 
anything that appears, the wording may correspond with 
the design of the legislature. (See Steph. Comm.) 

* 2. Accessorium non ducit sed sequitur suum prin- 
cipale. The accessory does not lead but follows its 

The grant of a reversion will also include a rent 
incident thereto — so heir- looms follow the inheritance. 

3. Accusare nemo se debet, nisi coram Deo. No one 

is in duty bound to accuse himself unless before 

In certain cases a witness is not compelled to answer, 
if by so doing he would incriminate himself. (See -Max. 
No. i/i.) 


Digitized by Microsoft® 


* 4. Acta exteriora indicant interiora secreta. Overt 
acts make known latent thoughts, or Acts indicate 
the intention. 

Where an authority given by law is abused, the person 
becomes a trespasser ab initio, but not so if authority be 
given by party, or in cases of mere non-feasance. {Six 
Carpenters' Case, i Smith, L.C. nth ed. p. 132.) 

* 5. Actio personalis moritur cum persona. A personal 
action dies with the person. 

In actions of tort this was formerly a general rule, 
but recently its application has been so generally 
narrowed that it probably affects only actions for libel 
and slander. By Lord Campbell's Act, 9 & 10 Vict, 
c. 93, compensation may, however, now be recovered by 
the relatives of a person negligently killed. Compensa- 
tion may also be recovered in some cases of trespass. 
(See Chitty, i6th ed. p. 347.) 

6. Actus curiae neminem gravabit. The act of the 
Court shall prejudice no man. 

(Cumber v. Wane, i Sm. L. C. i ith ed. p. 338.) 

* 7. Actus Dei nemini facit injuriam. The act of God 

causes injury to no one. 

Storms, tempests, and the like, are acts of God, being 
inevitable accidents not caused by man. 

Digitized by Microsoft® 


8. Actus me invito, non est meuS actus. An involuntary 
act is not one's own act, i.e., an act done against one's 
will is not such persons act. 

The law presumes coercion in certain cases — by a 
husband over his wife. Intentions denominate the 
action, and especially so in criminal cases. (See next 
Max. and Nos. 116 and 285.) 

* 9. Actus non facit reum, nisi mens sit rea. The act 
itself does not make a man guilty, unless his intention 
be so. 

There must be a vicious will or criminal intention as 
well as an unlawful act. (See Maxs. Nos. 8, 1 16 and 285.) 
Where one engaged in doing a lawful act, without any 
wrongful intention, unfortunately and inadvertently kills 
another person, the homicide is excusable. 

10. Ad questiones facti non respondent judices; ad 
questiones legis non respondent juratores. 

Judges do not decide questions of fact ; the jury do 
not decide qiiestions of law. 

This applies to trials by jury, and where the issue 
turns rather upon facts than legal construction, such 
method of trial is usually, but not necessarily, followed. 

* 11. Aequitas factum habet quod fieri oportuit. 

Equity looks upon that as done which ought to have 
been done. 

The doctrine of satisfaction well illustrates this prin- 
ciple of law. (See Max. No. 74.) Where a person is 

Digitized by Microsoft® 


under an obligation to perform an act, equity looks on 
it as done, and allows the same results to follow as if 
it were actually done. Thus, when one who has con- 
tracted to sell realty dies, the purchase money therefor 
forms part of his estate, and goes to his next of kin, if 
intestate, such realty being deemed in equity to be vested 
in the contractee. (See Fletcher v. Ashburner, i Wh. & 
Tu. 8th ed. p. 347.) 

12. Aequitas nunquam contravenit leges. Equity never 
opposes the law. 

To supplement, and not to contravene, is its object. 

* 13. Aequitas sequitur legem. Equity follows the law. 
Equity cannot alter the law of the land, but follows 

Both in the sense of obeying the law, and conforming 
to its general rules and policy, and also in applying to 
equitable estates and interests the rules by which at 
common law legal estates and interests of a similar kind 
are governed, 

14. Agentes et consentientes pari poena plectentur, 

Acting and consenting parties are liable to the same 

A person aiding and abetting the actual commission of 
a crime, either at the scene of its commission or else- 
where, is equally liable with the perpetrator, the former 
being a principal in the second degree, and the latter in 
the first degree. If A., with intent to murder, inflicts on 

Digitized by Microsoft® 


B. an injury dangerous to life, aided and abetted by C, 
who is aware of the intent, they are both equally guilty 
and punishable. 

* 15. Alienatio rei praefertur juri accrescendi. 

law favours alienation rather than accumulation. 

This maxim has always been the policy of our law, 
even from the time when the right of subinfeudation was 
first recognised. The statutes of De Bonis, 13 Edw. I. 
c. I, and Quia emptor es, 18 Edw. I. c. i, are examples in 
proof of this doctrine. Also the rules against perpetuities, 
which forbid any executory interests to take effect later 
than a life or lives in being or twenty-one years after- 
wards, allowance being made for gestation where the 
same actually exists. 

16. AUegans contraria non est audiendus. One who 
contradicts himself is not to be heard. 

A rule of evidence relative to the credibility of a 
witness. Cross-examination is frequently used to this 

17. AUegans suam turpitudinem non est audiendus. 

A person boasting of his own wrong-doing is not to 
be heard. 

When a person does an act which may be rightfully 
performed, he cannot say that such act was inten- 
tionally done wrongly. See In re Hallett, Knatchbiill v. 
Hallett, 13 Ch. Div. 696, where an obiter dictum found 
in the judgment of the Court is as follows : " When 
we come to apply that principle " {i.e., the one given 

Digitized by Microsoft® 


above) "to the case of a trustee who has blended 
trust moneys with his own, it seems perfectly plain that 
he cannot be heard to say that he took away the trust 
money, when he had a right to take away his own 

* 18. Ambiguitas contra stipulatorem est. An ambiguity 
is taken against the party using it. 

Thus, if in a lease, words of exception be used am- 
biguously, the same being words of the lessor, are 
construed most strongly as against him. (See Chitty on 
Contracts, i6th ed. p. 113 ; also Max. No. 272.) 

* 19. Ambiguitas verborum latens verificatione sup- 
pletur; nam quod ex facto oritur ambiguum 
verificatione facti tollitur. A hidden ambiguity 
of the words may be interpreted by evidence ; for an 
ambiguity which arises from an extrinsic fact may 
be removed by proof of such fact. 

(See Max. No. 20.) 

* 20. Ambiguitas verborum patens nulla verificatione 
excluditur. A patent ambiguity of the words can- 
not be removed by extrinsic evidence. 

The last two maxims are most important in the 
construction of contracts. Thus upon a devise, " to one 
of the sons of J. S.," who has several sons, parol 
evidence would not be admissible to ascertain which son 
in particular was referred to. (Max. No. 19.) But where 
there is a devise of " the Manor of A.," the testator 

Digitized by Microsoft® 


having two estates of that description, this being a latent 
ambiguity, parol evidence is admissible to explain which 
was meant. 

21. Amicus curie. A friend to the Court, i.e.. One who 
advises disinterestedly and spontaneously. 

22. Aqua cedit solo. Water passes with the soil. 

From a legal point of view, water is land covered by 
water, and an action cannot be brought to recover posses- 
sion of a pool, &c., by the name of water only, but as so 
much land covered by water. Water, being a movable 
thing, must continue common, and its ownership therefore 
goes with the land below. 

Where a river divides the property of two different 
persons, the bed of the river is equally divided between 
them ; and, according to Bracton, if an island rise in mid- 
stream, it belongs in common to those possessing land on 
each side thereof, but if it be nearer to one bank than the 
other, it belongs to the proprietor of the nearer shore. 
(See Steph. Comm. Vol. I. isth ed. Cap. i.) 

23. Aqua currit et debet currere. Water flows and 
should be allowed to flow. 

No one can have any right of property in a running 
stream, but only a right to use it ; and this must be so 
exercised as not to interfere with other persons possess- 
ing similar rights. 

24. Auotori incumbit onus proband!. The onus of proof 
lies on the plaintiff. 

(See Maxs. Nos. 69 and 252.) 

Digitized by Microsoft® 


25. Audi alteram partem. Hear the other side (i.e., Do 
not condemn a man unheard.) 

This is one of the fundamental principles of the British 

* 26. Benignae faciendae sunt interpretationes char- 
tarum, ut res magis valeat quam pereat. Con- 
structions of documents are to be made favourably, 
that the instrument may rather avail than perish. 

See hereon Roe v. Tranmarr, 2 Sm. L. C. 556, which 
is a most important case for reference with regard to the 
construction and interpretation of written instruments. 
The facts as quoted from Smith were as follows. " A., in 
consideration of natural love, and of ;^ioo, by deeds of 
lease and release granted, released, and confirmed certain 
premises after his own death, to his brother, B., in tail, 
remainder to C. (the son of another brother of A.) in fee ; 
and he covenanted and granted that the premises should 
after his death be held by B. and the heirs of his body, 
or by C. and his heirs, according to the true intent of the 
deed. Held, that the deed could not operate as a release, 
because it attempted to convey a freehold in futuro, but 
that it was good as a covenant to stand seised." Want 
of technical knowledge on the part of contracting parties 
must be allowed for. Words should be subservient to the 
intention, if this can be gathered from the instrument itself. 
(See Maxs. Nos. 211, 236, 250, 273, and 275.) 

27. Bis dat qui cito dat. He gives twice who gives 

Digitized by Microsoft® 


28. Caveat emptor (Qui ignorare non debuit quod 
jus alienum emit). Let the bjcyer beware (who 
ought not to be ignorant what he buys from 

The law implies no warranty of goodness or quality 
on sale of goods, and the maxim applies in such cases, 
it being remembered that "Simplex commendatio non 
obligat" (See Max. No. 255.) If goods be ordered for 
any particular purpose, or of a particular description, or if 
the purchaser has had no opportunity of judging for himself, 
the maxim would not apply, as in such cases warranty is 
implied. — Nor in cases where' there is " suppressio veri " 
or " suggestio falsi " on the part of the vendor. And see 
hereon Brown v. Eddington, 2 Scott, N. R. 504 ; and 
Chitty on Contracts, i6th ed. pp. 63 and 726. 

29. Cessante ratione legis, cessat ipsa lex. The 

reason of the law being at an end, the law itself 

Reason is always the acknowledged soul of the law. 

30. Chirographum apud debitorem repertum prae- 

siimitur solutum. A deed found with a debtor is 
presumed to be satisfied. 

If a person, who has effected a mortgage on his pro- 
perty, again gets the deeds into his possession, it is 
presumed that the loan has been repaid, even though no 
reconveyance has been taken. 


31. Clausulae inconsuetae semper inducunt suspi- 
cionem. Unusual clatises always excite suspicion. 

In Twynds Case (i Sm. L. C. nth ed. p. i), a deed 
containing a clause that the gift was made " honestly, truly. 

Digitized by Microsoft® 


and bona fide," was held fraudulent and void, even 
although made for valuable consideration. (See Maxs. 
Nos. 6i and 63.) The French maxim of" Quis'excuse 
s'accuse " may in like cases be noted with advantage. 

32. Cognovit actionem. He had admitted the action. 

33. Commodum ex injuria sua nemo habere debet. 

No one should have an advantage from his own 

34. Conditio sine qua non. A condition without which 
the matter cannot be. 

35. Consensus toUit errorem. Consent removes a mis- 
take ; or, as Broom says, "-the acquiescence of a 
party who might take advantage of an error, obviates 
its effect" 

The doctrine of waiver is referable to this maxim 
(See also Maxs. Nos. 216, 217 and 222.) 

36. Constructio legis, non fecit injuriam. Construction 

of the law causes no injury. 

* 37. Consuetude ex certa causa rationabili usitata 
privat communem legem. A custom based on a 
certain reasonable foundation obrogates the common 

For example may be cited the custom of gavelkind, 
under which the land of a deceased person descended to 
all his sons equally, and the custom of Borough English, 
under which it descended alone to the youngest son. 
Both these customs supersede the common law of 
descent. (See Steph. Comm., Vol. I., and Maxs. Nos. 38, 
153 and 197.) 

Digitized by Microsoft® 


38. Consuetudo pro lege servatur. Custom is protected 
by the law. 

(See also Max. No. 37.) 

39. Contemporanea exposlto est optima et fortissima 
in lege. A contemporaneous interpretation is the 
best and strongest in law. 

In interpreting an old document or statute, considera- 
tion must be had for the intention and intended effect at 
the time of its execution, on the ground that the same 
were then best known and appreciated. (See Chitty on 
Contracts, i6th ed. p. 95, and Max. No. 275.) 

* 40. Contra non valentem agere nulla currit prae- 
scriptio. No prescription runs against one unable 
to act. 

Generally, prescription runs only from the time when 
the plaintiff might have brought his action, unless then 
under disability. In actions brought to recover land, rent, 
or legacies, a certain additional time is allowed after the 
disability ceases. In actions having reference only to 
things strictly personal, the same time is allowed after 
the disability ceases, as would have been allowed at the 
time the cause of action accrued had no such disability 
then existed. 

* 41. Contractus ex turpi causa, vel contra bonos 
mores, nuUus. A contract arising from a base con- 
sideration, or against morality, is void. 

A contract made in consideration of past seduction is 
not binding. {Beaumont v. Reeve, 8 Q. B. 483.) Also a 
betting or wagering contract. 

Digitized by Microsoft® 


42. Cuicunque aliquid oonceditur, conceditur et id 
sine quo res ipsa esse non potuit. To whomso- 
ever anything is conceded, that also is given, without 
which the thing itself cannot be. 

(See Max. No. 210.) 

43. Cuilibet in sua arte perito est credendum. Each 
one skilled in his own art is to be believed. 

Medical men and other .skilled witnesses, may give 
their opinion in evidence, as to the state or condition of 
a patient or thing at any particular time. Expert evidence 
is always admissible, but being expensive and not con- 
clusive, is weighed cautiously and little relied upon. 

(See Max. No. 226.) 

44. Cujus est dare, ejus est disponere. Whose it is to 
give, his it is to dispose ; or, as Broom says, " The 
bestower of a gift has a right to regulate its 

This rule is a general one, but considerably curtailed 
and qualified at the present time, especially so by the 
Acts which restrict and regulate the tying up of Real 
Estate, and accumulation of personal property beyond 
specified periods. 

45. Cujus est divisio, alterius est electio. When one 
divides, the other has the right of first choice. 

In the case of an estate being held in coparcenary, 
partition thereof was formerly sometimes made volun- 
tarily, by the eldest parcener dividing, in which case she 
chose last. But by Statute 8 & 9 Vic. c. 106, s. 3, all 
partitions must now be by deed in order to be binding. 
(See Steph. Comm. Vol. I.) 

Digitized by Microsoft® 


46. Cujus est polum, ejus est usque ad coelum et ad 
inferos. Whose is the soil, his it is even to the skies 
and to the depths beloiv. 

Upon a conveyance of land, simpliciter, buildings, and 
timber being thereon will also pass, as also the mines 
thereunder, — " donee probeter in contrarium " («>., until 
the contrary is proved). Property, however, must be so 
used and enjoyed as not to injure or prejudice the rights 
of adjoining owners, as by overhanging buildings. (See 
Max. No. 254.) This maxim affords an illustration of the 
rule that the word land is nomen generalissimwn — a most 
general term. (See Maxs. Nos. 188 and 224.) 

47. Culpa lata dole aequiparatur. Gross negligence is 
equivalent to intentional wrong. 

(See Max. No. 223.) 

48. Cum confitente sponte, mitius est agendum. He 

who willingly confesses, should be dealt with more 

Confession to a crime, when committed, always 
operates in mitigation of punishment. Penitence for 
wrong-doing should not be allowed to go unrecognised. 

* 49. Cum duo inter se pugnantia reperiuntur in 
testamento ultimum ratum est. Where two 
repugnant clauses (or statements) occur in a will, 
the latter shall prevail 

It will be remembered, however, that the intention 
must in all cases be looked to and if possible carried 
out, and the above maxim is a rule only inasmuch as 

Digitized by Microsoft® 


its application generally will do this. Moreover, it has 
no reference to deeds, where, if there be two such re- 
pugnant clauses, the first is received and the latter 
rejected. (See Maxs. Nos. y8 and 275.) 

50. Curia advisare vult. T/ie court desires to consider. 
In difficult cases judgment is frequently reserved. 

51. De fide et oflacio juridicis non recipitur quaestio, 
sed de scientia sive sit error juris sive facti. 

The decision of a judge may be impugned only for 
error either in law or of fact, but his honesty of 
purpose or office cannot be questioned. 

* 52. De minimis non curat lex. The law cares not 
about mere trifles. 

Where the ocean gradually recedes, or washes up 
sand and earth, and thus in time forms terra firma, the 
land so resulting belongs to the owner of that imme- 
diately behind and adjoining ; if, however, the dereliction 
or alluvion be sudden, the land thus formed belongs to 
the Crown. (See Westbury-on-Severn Rural Sanitary 
Authority v. Meredith, 30 Ch. Div. 387.) 

53. Debita sequuntur personam detaitoris. Debts 
follow the debtor's person. 

* 54. Debitor non praesumitur donare. A debtor is 
not presumed to give. 

This maxim has reference to the law of satisfaction. 
Where a debtor bequeaths to his creditor a sum of money 
equal to, or exceeding the amount of his debt, it is 

Digitized by Microsoft® 


presumed, in the absence of any contrary intention, that 
such legacy was meant arid given by the testator as a 
satisfaction of the debt. (See Talbot v. Shrewsbury, 
2 Wh. & Tu. 8th ed. p. 378.) This presumption of satis- 
faction, however, does not arise where the debt was not 
contracted until after the will was made, or where it was 
secured by a Bill of Exchange or other negotiable 
instrument, or where the legacy was contingent, not 
payable immediately on testator's death, or of a specific 
chattel. (See Snell's Equity, i6th ed. p. 184 ; also Max. 
No. 56.) 

* 55. Delegatus non potest delegare. An agent 
cannot delegate his authority. 

A principal (except by his own assent) is not bound 
by the acts or contracts of subagents unless they be of 
necessity, or in accordance with the usual custom of 
trade. Delegata potestas non potest delegari. (See Chitty 
on Contracts, i6th ed. p. 278 ; and Maxs. Nos. 194, 208, 
and 280.) 

56. Delicatus debitor est odiosus in lege. An extrava- 

gant debtor is contemned in the eye of the law. 

By the Bankruptcy Act, 1883, the Court may either 
refuse a bankrupt his discharge, or suspend its opera- 
tion, on proof that he has brought on his bankruptcy 
by an unjustifiable extravagance in living. (See Max. 
No. 54.) __^ 

57. Dentur omnes decimae primariae ecclesiae ad 

quam parochia pertinet. All tithes must be paid 
to the Mother Church to which the parish belongs. 

This was a law of King Edgar, prior to which every 

Digitized by Microsoft® 


man paid his tithe to whatever church or parish he 
thought fit. (See Steph. Comm. 15th ed. Vol. I. p. 71.) 

58. Descendit jus quasi ponderosum quid, cadens 
deorsum recta linea; et nunquam reascendit 
ea via qua descendit. The right of inheritance 
descends like a heavy body, falling in a straight line ,- 
and it never ascends by the same line that it came 

This was one of the old laws of descent, under which 
the lineal ancestor himself was always excluded, although 
his issue, being the collateral heirs of the deceased, might 
inherit the latter's land. Now, however, by the Inheritance 
Act, 1833, 3 & 4 Will. IV. c. 106, on failure of the issue 
of the purchaser, the inheritance descends to the nearest 
lineal ancestor in the preferable line, provided that no 
issue of a nearer deceased ancestor in that line exists. 
(See Steph. Comm. Vol. I. p. 257 et seq., and Max. 
No. J02.) 

59. Deus solus haeredem facere potest, non homo. 

God alone is able to make an heir and not man. 

(See Max. No. 165.) 

60. Dies Dominicus non est juridicus. Sunday is 
not a day for judicial proceedings. 

61. Dolosus versatur in generalibus. A deceiver deals 
in generalities — i.e., uses ambiguous terms. 

One of the reasons for the decision in Twines Case, 
I Sm. L. C. nth ed. p. i, was "That the gift had the 

Digitized by Microsoft® 


signs and marks of fraud, because it was general, without 
exception even of his apparel or anything of necessity, 
for it is commonly said ' quod dolosus versatttr in 
generalibus.' " (See Maxs. Nos. 31 and 63.) 

* 62. Domus sua cuique est tutissimum refugium. To 
every man his own house is the safest refuge — i.e., 
Every man's house is his castle — " Nemo de domo 
sua extrahi potest." 

It has been decided, however, that the sheriff may 
lawfully break into the house of a defendant in the 
following cases : — where the house is recovered by any 
real action, or by ejectment in pursuance of the writ 
" ]tabere facias possessionem" also where the king is a 
party. The house of one man is a privilege or castle 
for himself only, and not for one who flies to him for 
protection. {Semayn^s Case, i Sm. L. C. 121. See 
Max. 162.) 

63. Dona clandestina sunt semper suspiciosa. 

Clandestine gifts are always suspicious. 

The gift in Twyne's Case, i Sm. L. C. ilth ed. p. i, 
was made in secret. .(See Maxs. Nos. 31 and 61.) 

64. Donatio non praesumitur. A gift is not presumed. 

The law with reference to gifts is most stringent, and 
strict proof is usually required. 

* 65. Donationes sint strict! juris, ne quis plus 
donasse praesumatur quam in donatione 
expressit. Gifts are to be construed strictly 
according to law, lest any one be presumed to have 


Digitized by Microsoft® 


given more than he may actually have set forth in 
the gift or grant. 

See Stat. De Bonis Conditionalibus, 13 Ed. I. c. i, 
which by its enactments laid the foundation of our 
present Estates Tail. 

The word " heirs " was formerly necessary in order 
to create by deed an estate in fee simple, or in tail ; if 
land were given to a man for ever, or to him and his 
assigns for ever, he would take only an estate for life. 
By the Conveyancing Act the use of the word " heirs " 
is no longer necessary, the words " in fee simple," or " in 
fee tail," being sufficient, as the case my be. 

66. Duces tecum. You must bring with you. 

A form of subpoena when production of documents 
is required. 

67. Duo non possunt in solido unam rem possidere. 

Two cannot possess the whole of one thing in its 

68. Ea quae raro laccidunt, non temere in agendis 

negotiis computantur. Such things as seldom 
occur, are not rashly to be taken into account in 
business transactions. 

* 69. Ei incumbit probatio qui affirmat, non qui 
negat ; cum per rerum naturam factum 
negantis probatio nulla sit. He must prove a 
thing who says it, not he who denies it, since by the 
nature of things he who denies a fact cannot 
produce any proof ; i.e., the proof lies upon him 
who affirms, and not upon him who denies. 

It is a general rule that in the trial of all actions the 
plaintiff should begin. (See Maxs. Nos. 24 and 252.) 

Digitized by Microsoft® 


* 70. Equality is Equity, 

Persons making purchases for a joint undertaking are 
held tenants in common in equity, although at law they 
are joint tenants. (See Lake v. Gibson and Lake v. Craddock^ 
2 Wh. and Tud. L. C. Eq. 8th ed. 973.) Equity, where 
possible, always favours a tenancy in common as opposed 
to a joint tenancy. 

* 71. Equity acts in personam : i.e., against the person. 

Judgments of Courts of Law were always enforced 
in rem, by writ oi fieri facias, &c., but the decrees of the 
Court of Chancery could always be enforced in personam, 
by attachment. (See Penn v. Lord Baltimore, i Wh. and 
Tud. L. C. 8th ed. p. 800.) 

* 72. Equity imputes an intention to fulfil an 
obligation. {If the thing actually done might have 
been done with an intention to fulfil an obligation^ 

The equitable doctrines of satisfaction (see Talbot v. 
Duke of Shrewsbury and Chancey's Case, 2 Wh. & Tud. L. 
C. Eq. 8th ed. pp. 378-9) and performance (see Wilcocks 
V. Wilcocks, and Blandy v. Widmore, 2 Wh. and Tud. L. C. 
Eq. 8th ed. pp. 413-14 respectively), have recourse to this 
maxim, and the principle upon which they are founded 
is the one therein contained. 

73. Equity never wants a trustee. 

Where a valid trust exists, equity will impose on the 
person in whom the legal estate is vested the duty and 
obligation of carrying out such trust. 

Digitized by Microsoft® 


* 74. Equity regards the spirit and not the letter. 

Equity looks at the intention of the parties, and not at 
the actual words employed in any transaction. Equity 
always regarded a mortgage as an instrument to secure 
the repayment of money, and allowed the mortgagor to 
redeem at any time, but at Common Law, unless the 
mortgagor paid back the money by the day named in the 
mortgage deed, his right of redemption was gone. (See 
Maxs. Nos. II and 196.) 

75. Erant omnia communia et indivisa omnibus, 
veluti unum cunctis patrimonium esset. All 

things were common and undivided to all people, as 
if there were one property for all. 

See Justin I. 43, c. i. While there were yet few inha- 
bitants on the face of the globe, it seems probable and 
reasonable that all things were in common among them, 
and that each took from the public stock what he might 
require for immediate purposes, and that the right of pos- 
session was coexistent only with actual possession. (See 
Steph. Comm. Vol. I. Book II.) 

76. Esse optime constitutam rempublican, quae ex 
tribus generibus illis, regali {monarchy), optimo 
(aristocracy), et populari (democracy), sit modice 
confusa. That State is the best constituted which is 
made up in moderation of the three classes, royalty, 
nobility, and commons. 

The truth of this is generally admitted — our own 
country, which comprises the three above essentials, 
being universally acknowledged the best governed king- 
dom in the world. 

Digitized by Microsoft® 


77. Est boni judicis ampliare jurisdictionem (et 
justitiam). It is the duty of a good judge to enlarge 
his jurisdiction and also justice itself ; i.e., to extend 
the remedies of the law, and without usurping jtiris- 
diction, to apply its rules to the ddvancement of 

Where a case comes before a court of law, in which it 
has hitherto been the practice to refuse relief to the 
plaintiff or defendant, as the case may be, and conse- 
quently to drive such party to seek redress in the Court 
of Chancery, it is expedient for all parties and the public 
at large, that such court of law, and its judge, should act 
in a liberal and uncramped manner, and if possible apply 
the necessary remedy. (See Collins v. Blantern, i Smith, 
L. C. nth ed. p. 369.) By the Judicature Acts, " law" 
and " equity " are to be concurrently administered in all 
Courts, but the true spirit of this maxim must ever stand 

* 78. Ex antecedentibus et consequentibus fit optima 
interpretatio. From what goes before and what 
follows, the best interpretation is arrived at. 

The context must be most thoroughly looked into 
before a correct interpretation can be obtained. This 
maxim is one of the most important rules for the construc- 
tion of contracts, which in all cases are to be favourably 
construed according to their object, and the whole of their 
terms. (See Chitty on Contracts, i6th ed. p. 100, and 
Maxs. Nos. 26, 177, 214 and 272.) 

79. Ex diuturnitate temporis omnia praesumuntur 
rite esse acta. After a length of time all things 
are presumed to have been properly done. 

The Prescription Act, 2 & 3 Will. IV. c. 71, is in 
point upon this maxim. 

Digitized by Microsoft® 


* 80. Ex dolo malo non oritur actio. An action doe 
not arise from a fraud. 

(See Maxs. Nos. 82, 182 and 234.) 

* 81. Ex nudo pacto non oritur actio. An action does 
not arise from a nude contract. 

Every simple contract must be supported by a valuable 
consideration, as money, marriage, or the like. A good 
consideration {i.e., relationship, or natural love and affec- 
tion) will not support an assumpsit. Chitty lays down 
the rule "that a sufificient consideration or recompense 
for making, or motive or inducement to make, the promise 
upon which a party is charged, is of the very essence of a 
contract not under seal, both at law and in equity ; and 
that such consideration must exist, or the promise will be 
void and no action be maintainable thereon." Such con- 
sideration may be either executed, executory, concurrent 
or continuing. 

* 82. Ex turpi causEl non oritur actio. No action arises 
from an immoral cause {or base consideration). 

Contracts founded on a consideration which is contra 
bonos mores are void. See also Merryweather v. Nixan 
2 Smith, L. C. 398, where it was decided that there is no 
right of contribution between joint tort-feasors. (See 
Maxs. Nos. 80, 182 and 232.) 

83. Exceptio probat regulam. Exception proves the 

(See Max. No. 174.) 

Digitized by Microsoft® 


84. Executio juris non habet injuriam. The execution 
of the law works no injury. Actus legis neminem 
est damnosum. The act of the law is hurtful to 

'■' 85. Expressio coram quae tacite insunt, nihil opera- 
tur. The express mention of those things which 
are tacitly implied, has no effect. 

A voluntary courtesy is insufficient to support a subse- 
quent promise, unless there has been an antecedent 
request, and such request must be proved at the trial, 
except where the consideration, though executed, is of 
such a nature that it must necessarily have been moved 
by a previous request, and in which case therefore, such a 
statement becomes merely " expressio eorum quae tacite 
insunt," and is consequently unnecessary. {Lampleigh v. 
Braithwait, i Smith, L. C. nth ed. p. 141.) 

86. Expressio unius est exclusio alterius. The express 
mention of one thing causes the exclusion of another. 

Where in a mortgage of several properties the follow- 
ing general words were used, "together with all grates, 
boilers, &c., and other fixtures in and about the said two 
dwelling-houses and the brewhouse thereunto belonging," 
it was ruled that the fixtures in the other mortgaged 
property did not pass to the mortgagee, although without 
these words they would have done. By particularising 
one or more members of a class, an intention may be 
inferred to exclude the rest. 

Digitized by Microsoft® 


* 87. Expressum facit cessare taciturn. What is ex- 
pressed makes what is implied to cease. 

The word " demise " in a lease implies a covenant for 
quiet enjoyment, but if such covenant be inserted, then 
the maxim will not apply. Implied contracts in law exist 
only where there is no express promise between the parties. 
(See Chitty on Contracts, i6th ed. pp. 47 and 385.) 

* 88. Falsa demonstratio non nocet. An erroneous 
description does not vitiate. 

Where in the former part of an instrument there is to 
be found a sufficiently clear and certain description, it 
will not be vitiated by a subsequent erroneous addition. 
(See Chitty on Contracts, i6th ed. p. 104, and Maxs. 
Nos. 89 and 274.) 

89. Falsa orthographia, sive falsa grammatica, non 
vitiat concessionem. Incorrect spelling or un- 
grammatical expressions do not mar a gift. 

(See Maxs. Nos. 88 and 146.) 

90. Falsus in uno falsus in omnibus. False in one 
thing false in all. 

It will always be found best, " honeste vivere, alterum 
non laedere, sua cuique tribuere." Honesty is the best 
policy ; once a knave always a knave. 

91. Fatetur facinus qui judicium fugit. He who flies 
from justice acknowledges himself a criminal. 

Under such circumstances the presumption is one of 


Digitized by Microsoft® 


* 92. Fides est obligatio conscientiae alicujus ad in- 
tentionem alterius. A ti-ust is the obligation of 
on^s conscience to fulfil the intention of another. 

A trust is also defined as a beneficial interest in, or 
ownership of, real or personal property, unattended with 
the legal ownership thereof. (Snell's Eq. i6th ed. 
Part II.) 

93. Fieri non debuit, sed factum valet. It ought not 
to have been done, but having been done is valid. 

A marriage by persons under the age of twenty-one 
years without the consent of their father is valid, although 
by 4 Geo. IV. c. 76, s. 16, such consent is made requisite. 
(See Max. No. 228.) 

94. Foreclose down, redeem up. 

A mortgagee can only foreclose those claiming an 
interest in the mortgaged property after himself ; but a 
mortgagor must redeem every mortgage, and any 
mortgagee, in order to obtain the rights of a first 
mortgagee, must redeem all mortgages prior to his own. 
(See Snell's Eq. i6th ed. Chap. XVI.) 

95. Fractionem diei non recipit lex. The law takes no 
note of a fraction of a day. 

When an act has to be done on a certain day, the 
whole of that day is allowed in which to do it. This 
rule has exceptions, however, for in case of documents 
registered on the same day, priority of registration may 
be shown by the numbers, and this becomes, at times, of 
the utmost importance. 

Digitized by Microsoft® 


96. Prater fratri sine legitime haerede defuncto, in 
beneficio quod eorum patris fuit, succedat ; 
sin autem unus e fratribus a domino feudum 
acceperit, eo defuncto sine legitimo haerede, 
frater ejus in feudum non succedit. A brother 
may succeed a brother who has died without lawful 
heir in the benefice which belonged to their father ; 
but if one brother shall have received a feud from 
a lord, if he dies without a lawful heir, his brother 
does not succeed to the feud. 
This is one of the old laws of inheritance, which are 
still of importance as leading to a perfect understanding 
of the Act of 1833. Formerly no one could succeed to 
an inheritance unless he was not only of the blood of 
the purchaser, but also his lineal issue, consequently one 
brother could not succeed to another brother's inherit- 
ance, of which the latter was the purchaser, because he 
could not be his brother's lineal issue, but where the 
inheritance had originally descended from an ancestor, 
one brother could succeed another, as he might be the 
lineal issue of such ancestor. (See Steph. Comm. I. 
15th ed. p. 257 et seq., also next Maxim and No. 203.) 

97. Prater fratri uterino non suceedat in haereditate 
paternS,. A brother shall not succeed a brother of 
the half blood in the father s estate. 

Another old law of inheritance, under which the half- 
blood were totally excluded, the land escheating to the 
lord of the manor rather than go to a kinsman bearing 
this relationship to the person from whom descent was 
to be traced. Now, however, since the Inheritance Act, 
s. 9, it is otherwise, the place in which any such relation 
by the half-blood stands in the order of inheritance being 
next after any relative in the same degree of the whole 
blood, and his issue, where the common ancestor is a 

Digitized by Microsoft® 


male, and next after the common ancestor, where such 
common ancestor is a female. (See Steph. Comm. I. 
15th ed. p. 257 et seq., also last Maxim and No. 203.) 

98. Fraus est celare fraudem. He who conceals a fraud 
perpeti-ates one himself. 

This illustrates the doctrine of constructive frauds. 
Where a man designedly produces a false impression on 
another, and the latter consequently commits some act, 
or enters into some contract, injurious to himself and his 
own interests, the former is guilty of fraud. (See Max. 
No. 260.) 

99. Prustrk fit per plura, quod fieri potest perpauciora. 

That is unnecessarily done by many [words), tvhich is 
capable of being done by fewer. 

That the force of this maxim has been appreciated by 
our legislature is shown and evidenced by most of the 
recent Acts of Parliament, and especially so by the 
Conveyancing and Law of Property Act, 1881, which has 
considerably curtailed the length of many legal documents. 
Accuracy and precision are ever to be commended in 
preference to verbosity. Short titles are now given to all 
important statutes. 

100. Puriosus solo furore punitur. Let a madman be 
ptmished by his madness alone. 

Thus, in general, idiots and lunatics are not liable on 
contracts, and bear a certain analogy to infants. (Chitty 
on Contracts, i6th ed. pp. 158-61.) 

Digitized by Microsoft® 


101. Generalis regula generaliter est intelligenda. A 

general rule must be generally understood. 

102. Haereditas nunquam ascendit. Inheritance never 

This rule was exploded by 3 & 4 Will. IV. c. 106, s. 6, 
by which, on failure of issue of the purchaser, the inherit- 
ance goes to the nearest lineal ancestor. Bracton and 
Lord Coke compared the descent of an inheritance to 
that of a falling body, which never went upwards in its 
course. " Descendit jus quasi ponderosum quid, cadens 
deorsum rectS linea : et nunquam reascendit ea vii qud 
descendit." (See Max. No. 58.) 

103. Haeres legitimus est quam nuptiae demonstrant. 

He is the legitimate heir whom marriage declares. 

* 104. He who comes into equity must come with clean 

An infant, although not generally liableon his contracts, 
cannot make use of his own fraudulent acts as a means 
whereby to benefit himself 

* 105. He who seeks equity must do equity. 

It is in pursuance of this maxim that the right of the 
wife's equity to a settlement is enforced. (Snell's Eq. 
1 6th ed. p. 13.) 

Digitized by Microsoft® 


106. Hoc quidem perquam durum est, sed ita lex 
scripta est. This indeed is hard, but it is the 
zvritten law. 

Although, in some cases, equity mitigated the rigours 
of the law, yet in others it was quite incapable of so 
doing ; as, for example, many of the old laws of inheri- 
tance were certainly hard and unjust, yet equity gave no 
relief, the legislature having to intervene with the Act 
3 & 4 Will. IV. c. 106. 

107. Ibi esse poenam ubi et noxa est. Tlie punishment 
should be in the same place as the guilt. 

This is so according to the dictates of common sense 
and fairness. 

* 108. Id eertum est quod certum reddi potest. That 
is certain which can be reduced to a certainty. 

This maxim is ahke a rule of logic as of law. Customs 
must not be optional, but compulsory, reasonable, defi- 
nite, &c. 

109. Idem est non esse et non apparere. Not to be and 

not to legally prove are the same thing. 

According to the laws of evidence, where he, on whom 
the onus of proving the afifirmative lies, fails in such 
proof, the contrary is presumed, though there be no 
evidence in support of such presumption. 

* 110. Ignorantia facti excusat, ignorantia juris (quod 
quisque tenetur scire) neminem excusat. Ignor- 
ance of fact excuses, ignorance of the law 

Digitized by Microsoft® 


{which every one is presumed to know) excuses 
no one. 

Applicable only to the general laws of the country 
" quod quisque tenetur scire!' No action can be maintained 
to recover money paid under process of law. (See 
Harriot v. Hampton, 2 Sm. L. C. 421, and Snell's Eq. 
i6th ed. p. 393, and Max. No. 176.) 

111. In consimili casu, consimile debet esse remedium. 
In similar cases, the remedy should be similar. 

(See Max. No. 265.) 

* 112. In contractu tacite insunt quse sunt moris et 
consuetudinis. Those things which are customary 
and of general usage are tacitly implied in a con- 

As a general rule, the law of the country in which a 
contract is entered into presumably governs its interpre- 
tation in the absence of a contrary and express intention 
of the parties. {Jacob v. Credit Lyonnaise, 12 Q. B. D. 
p. 600.) 

113. In criminalibus probationes debent esse luce 
clariones. In all criminal charges the proofs should 
be as clear as day. 

An accused person is always entitled to receive the 
benefit of the doubt if any such exists on the evidence. 

114. In judicio non creditur nisi juratis. In a trial only 
sworn witnesses are believed. 

This has been modified of late years, especially by 

Digitized by Microsoft® 


17 & 18 Vict. c. 125, which, inter alia, provides that any 
person called as a witness, who shall refuse or be un- 
willing to be sworn from conscientious motives, may 
make affirmation instead. (As to the form of such 
affirmation, see 31 & 32 Vict. c. 72.) 

* 115. In jure, non remota, sed proxima spectantur. 
The law has regard to things near at hand, and 
not to those remote. 

Especially applicable in questions of damages, with 
reference to which one of the most important rules is, 
that they must not be too remote, but must be the 
natural and probable result of the defendant's wrongful act. 
Mayne on Damages says : " Damage is said to be too 
remote when, although arising out of the cause of action, 
it does not so immediately and necessarily flow from it, 
as that the offending party can be made responsible for 
it." (See also hereon Hadley v. Baxendale, 9 Ex. 343, 
and Kelly v. Partington, 5 B. & A. 645.) 

116. In maleficiis voluntas spectatur non exitus. In 
criminal acts the intention is to be sought or 
examined rather than the result. 

A bad or criminal intention must be shown in all such 
cases. (See Maxs. Nos. 9 and 285.) 

* 117. In pari delicto potior est conditio defendentis. 
In case of equal fault the position of the defendant 
is the better. 

Where an immoral contract has been executed, and 

Digitized by Microsoft® 


both parties are equally in fault, the maxim applies, and 
the contract will not be set aside. In divorce actions, a 
wife guilty herself of adultery is not entitled to a decree 
nisi for which she may petition as against an offending 
husband. (See Chitty on Contracts, i6th ed. p. 695, and 
next Max.) 

118. In pari delicto potior est conditio possidentis. 

In case of equal guilt, the condition of the possessor 
is the better. 

Where a marine policy is void, ab initio, from a cause 
not amounting to any fraud or breach of law on the part 
of the assured, the insurer is bound to return the premium 
paid ; yet, when such policy is void by reason of fraud on 
the assured's part, the latter cannot then reclaim the 
premium, and the rule applies. (See Steph. Comm, II. 
pp. 88-9, and last Max.) 

119. In presumptione juris semper sequitas existit. 

Equity is always to be found in a prestimption of 

\ Where the object of such presumption is satisfied, and 
there is no equity in continuing it, it should cease. (See 
Colborne v. Patmore, 4 Tyrwh. 677 ; C. M. & R. 73.) 

120. In re communi potior est conditio prohibentis. 

In a partnership the condition of one who forbids is 
the more favourable. 

When partners are equally divided, those who forbid 
any change or other alteration have the better right. 

Digitized by Microsoft® 


121. In sooietatis contractibus fides exuberet. The 
strictest good faith must be exercised in partnership 

The highest standard of honour is requisite from every 
member of a partnership towards every other member of 
the firm. 

122. In testamentus plenius testatoris intentionera 
scrutamur. In wills we seek more especially for 
tlie testator's intention. 

This intention must be agreeable to law, and the intent 
must be collected from the actual words of the will. (See 
Maxs. Nos, 123,273, and 275.) 

123. In testamentis plenius voluntates testantium 
interpretantur. In wills the wishes of testators 
are more liberally expounded. 

Thus Broom says : " A will should receive a more 
liberal construction than its strict meaning, if alone 
considered, would permit." (See Maxs. Nos. 122, 273, 
and 275.) 

124. In traditionibus chartarum non quod dictum sed 
quod factum est inspicitur. In the delivery of 
deeds, not what was said at the time, but what was 
done, must be looked at. 

A document under seal may be delivered to a third 
person only, to be delivered by him to the grantee, when 
the latter has performed certain specified conditions. 
Such documents are known as escrows,, and do not 


Digitized by Microsoft® 


acquire the force of a deed until the conditions precedent 
have been fulfilled and delivery thereupon made to the 
grantee. (See Staph. Comm. I. Cap. XVII., and Max, 
No. 264.) 

125. Ineertam et caducam haereditatem relevant. 

They take tip again a doubtful and lapsed inherit- 

Upon the succession to a feud, on the death of the last 
tenant, the heir formerly succeeded thereto not as of 
right, but only by the favour of the lord of the manor, to 
whom a fine, called a relief, was paid — this relief con- 
tinued payable even after feuds became hereditary, 
although the reason for its being claimed had ceased. 
(See Steph. Comm. Vol. I. Cap. II.) 

126. Injuria non excusat injuriam. One wrong does not 
justify another. Or to use a colloquial expression. 
Two wrongs will not make a right. 

127. Interest reipublicae, ut sit finis litium. It is to 

the advantage of the State that there should be a 
limit to lawsuits. 

The Statutes of Limitations have been passed with a 
view to limit the time within which actions may be 
brought. But for these Statutes, a plaintiff might delay 
bringing his action until the defendant had lost, by 
casualty or otherwise, the evidence on which his case 
rested. (See Steph. Comm. III. Cap. XIII., and Max. 
No. 282.) 

Digitized by Microsoft® 


128. Invito beneficium non datur. A benefit is not 
conferred upon an unwilling recipient. 

No one can be compelled to accept a gift against his 
wish. A legatee may refuse a gift, an executor may 
renounce probate, and a trustee may disclaim his office. 

129. Judices non tenetur exprimere causam sententiae 
suae. Jtcdges are not compelled to give reason for 
their opinions ; \.g. judgments or sentences. 

It is the general opinion that judges not only ought 
not to be compelled to explain, but also that they should 
not do so voluntarily. Recent years have witnessed a 
few instances in which an explanation has been vouch- 
safed ; but it has been almost universally disapproved of 
by members of the legal profession. 

130. Judicis est judicare secundum allegata et probata. 
It is the duty of a judge to decide according to facts 
alleged and proved. 

In every action a litigant should be prepared to 
adduce proof of all facts upon which his case depends. 

131. Judicis est jus dicere non dare. It is for the judge 
to administer, not to make the law. 

Unwilling magistrates frequently shield themselves 
behind this, at times, very convenient rule. 

132. Jura publica anteferenda privatis. Public rights 
are to be preferred to private ones. 

133. Juris praecepta sunt haec : honeste vivere, 
alterum non laedere, suum cuique tribuere. 
The maxims (or requirements) of the law are : 

Digitized by Microsoft® 


To live honourably. To injure no one. To render 
to every one his due. 

* 134. Jus accrescendi inter mercatores locum non 
habet, pro beneficio commercii. The right of 
survivorship has no existence among merchants, for 
the encouragement of trade. 

* 135. Jus accrescendi praefertur oneribus ac ultimae 
voluntati. The right of survivorship is prefen-ed 
to encumbrances and to the last will. 

This has reference to, and forms one of, the principal 
rules affecting joint tenancies. Dower and courtesy do 
not apply to joint estates. 

136. Jus respicit aequitatem. Law has regard to equity. 

(See Jud. Act, 1873, sec. 25, ss. 11, and Max. No. 

137. Leges posteriores priores abrogant. Subsequent 
laws repeal former ones. 

Statutes may repeal prior ones, either by express 
provision or by implication. Every statute impliedly 
repeals an earlier one, so far as the latter is contrary 
thereto. Unless otherwise expressed, a statute must be 
construed as prospective in its operation. (See Steph. 
Comm. I. p. 43, and Max. No. 233.) 

138. Leges sola memoria et usu retinebant. Laws 
were only preserved by memory and custom. 

Among the primitive Saxons, owing to the small skill 

Digitized by Microsoft® 


in writing that generally obtained, all laws were tradi- 
tional, being handed down from one generation to another 
solely by word of mouth. Our " unwritten " or Common 
Law of the present day, however, is not merely oral, but 
is to be sought in the records of the various Courts 
and in the reports of judicial decisions, (See Steph. 
Coram. I. sec. III.) 

139. Lex non cogit ad impossibilia. The law does not 
force to impossibilities. 

This rule does not apply where a thing is impossible 
on account only of the defendant's personal inability to 
perform a contract. (See Chitty on Contracts, l6th ed. 
pp. 763-4, and Max. 170.) 

140. Lex prospicit non respicit. The law looks forward-, 
not backward. 

It is but seldom that statutes are made retrospective. 

141. Lex respicit aequitatem. The law lias regard to 

The provisions of the Judicature Acts are a good 
illustration. (See Max. No. 136.) 

142. Linea recta semper praefertur transversali. The 

right line is always preferred to the collateral. 

By 3 & 4 Will. IV. c. 106, " The lineal descendants in 
infinitum of any persons deceased shall represent their 
ancestor ; that is, shall stand in the same place as the 
person himself would have done had he been living." 

Digitized by Microsoft® 


The eldest male alone inherits where two or more are in 
equal degree of consanguinity to the purchaser ; females 
inherit altogether. (See Williams on Real Property, 20th 
ed. Cap. IX.) 

143. Littera scripta manet, vox emissa volat. What 
is written endures, things spoken speed away. 

The distinction of damages in actions for libel and 
slander form a good illustration of what is meant by this 
maxim, (See Max. No. 286.) 

144. Lofcus regit actum. The place governs the act. 

The law of the place where a legal transaction was 
entered into — Lex loci contractus — usually governs its 

* 145. Magis de bono quam de malo lex intendit. The 
law is in favour rather of a good than of a bad 
construction {or intention). 

If in a contract the words used ar,e capable of two 
constructions, thfe one in conformity with, and the other 
against the law, the former is adopted. Every accused 
person is presumed in the law to be innocent until he be 
proved guilty. (See Chitty on Contracts, i6th ed. p. 97, 
and Max. No. 169.) 

146. Mala grammatica non vitiat chartam. Bad 

grammar does not vitiate a deed or document. 

(See Chitty on Contracts, i6th ed. p. 112, and Max. 
No. 89.) 

Digitized by Microsoft® 


147. Malus usus est abolendus. An evil custom ought 
to be abolislied. 

148. Melior est justicia vere praeveniens quam severe 
puniens. Justice is better when it prevents rather 
than punishes tvith sevet-ity. 

149. Melius est petere fontes quam sectari rivulos. It 
is better to go to the fountain head than to follow 

All students will find this advice the best and safest 
to follow. (See Preface to this edition.) 

150. Minatur innocentibus qui parcit nocentibus. He 

who spares the guilty threatens the innocent. 

151. Minimi mutanda sunt quae eertam habet inter- 
pretationem. Such things as have a clear inter- 
pretation ought to be changed but little. 

This maxim is well illustrated by many of the old- 
fashioned technical terms used in . conveyancing, and 
which by long usage have obtained a well-defined mean- 
ing, and one that cannot be well met by the use of any 
other word or expression, as the case may be. 

* 152. Mobilia sequuntur personam. Movables follow 
the person. 
On an intestacy, personal chattels are distributed 

Digitized by Microsoft® 


according to the law of the country where deceased was 
domiciled at the time of death, and not according to the 
law of the place where they happen to be located. 

* 153. Modus et conventio vincunt legem. Custom 
and agreement overrule the law. 

This is one of the leading principles relative to the law 
of contracts. The exceptions to the rule here laid down 
are in cases against public policy, morality, &c. (See the 
case of Richardson v. Langridge, Tudor's L. C. Convey. 
4th ed. p. 4; Chitty on Contracts, i6th ed. p. 592, and 
Maxs. Nos. 37 and 197.) 

154. Mors dicitur ultimum supplicium. Death is said 
to be the extreme penalty. 

Death is the utmost limit of all things. Capital 
punishment is now only inflicted in cases of high treason 
and murder. 

155. Multi multa, nemo omnia novit. Many have 
known many things ; no one has known everything. 

So long, at least, as the law is ever changing, this 
must remain true. 

156. Mutatis mutandis. Making such changes or 
alterations as the sense requires. 

157. Nam silent leges inter arma. Laws are silent in 
time of war. 

It is to be noticed that during those periods of our 
history in which wars, civil or foreign, were most 

Digitized by Microsoft® 


prevalent, very little was accomplished in the way of 
legislature. Domestic legislation is always a sure index 
of a peaceful administration. 

158. Necessitas non habet legem. Necessity has no law. 
(See next Max.) 

159. Necessitas vincit legem. Necessity defeats the law. 
(See last Max. and No. 230.) 

160. Nemo contra factum suum venire potest. No 
one can go against his own deed. 

This maxim illustrates the doctrine of estoppel, of 
which there are three kinds, (i) By matter of record ; 
(2) by deed ; (3) by matter in pais. No person can, after 
execution, dispute his own solemn deed, which is conclu- 
sive against him and those claiming under him, even as to 
facts recited therein. (See Chitty on Contracts, i6th ed. 

p. SO 

161. Nemo dat quod non habet. No one can give what 
lie has not. 

No one can, other than by sale in market overt, 
confer upon another a better title than he himself has. 
A great exception to this principle occurs in the case 
of "negotiable securities," which by custom are trans- 
ferable like cash by delivery. (See Miller v. Race, i Sm. 
L. C. p. 463.) A thief can confer no title to stolen goods. 
(See Maxs. Nos. 166 and 232.) 

Digitized by Microsoft® 


162. Nemo de domo sua extrahi potest. No man can 

be dragged out of his own house. 

(See Max. No. 62.) 

163. Nemo debet bispunari, pro uno delicto. No one 

should be twice punished for the same offence. 

(See next Max.) 

* 164. Nemo debet bis vexari pro una et eadem causa. 

No one ought to be tried twice {twice put to trouble') 
for one and the same cause. 

It is a well-established principle of Criminal Law, that 
where a man is indicted for an offence and acquitted, he 
cannot afterwards be again indicted for the same offence, 
if he might have been convicted at the onset by proof of 
the facts contained in the second indictment. (See last 

* 165. Nemo est haeres viventis. No man is heir of a 
living person. 

There may be either an heir apparent, as the eldest 
son, or an heir presumptive, as an only daughter. The 
question of actual heirship arises only on the death of 
the owner. No inheritance can vest, and no one can be 
a complete heir until the ancestor is dead. (See Max. 
No. 59.) 

Digitized by Microsoft® 


* 166. Nemo plus juris in alium transferre potest 
quam ipse habet. No one can confer a better 
right to another than lie has himself. 

(But see Miller v. Race, i Sm. L. C. Iith ed. p. 463, 
and Max. No. 161.) 

167. Nemo potest esse agens et patiens. No one can 
be alike an active and a passive party. 

* 168. Nemo potest mutare consilium suum in alterius 
injuriam. No one can change his purpose (or 
advice) to the injury of another. 

It will be noticed that Acts of Legislation are 
generally prospective and not retrospective in their 
application. The doctrine of estoppel also illustrates the 
meaning intended to be conveyed. 

169. Nemo praesumitur malus. No one is presumed to 
be bad. 

(See Max. No. 145.) 

* 170. Nemo tenetur ad impossibile. No one is bound 
to an impossibility. 

If a man contracts to do anything which is physically 
impossible, such contract is not binding on him ; but 
where the contract is to do a thing which, though possible 
at the time, subsequently becomes impossible, it is 

Digitized by Microsoft® 


otherwise ; also if the impossibility is one personal only 
to the contractor. (See Max. No. 139.) 

171. Nemo tenetur seipsum prodere. No one is bound 
to betray himself; i.e., cannot be compelled to 
criminate himself. 

A well recognised rule of evidence in all cases. (See 
Max. No. 3.) 

172. Nihil tarn conveniens est natural! aequitati, 
quam unumquodque dissolvi eo ligamine quo 
legatum est. Nothing is so consonant to natit.ral 
equity, as that a thing may be dissolved by the same 
means which made it binding. 

173. Non accipi debent verba in demonstrationem 
falsam quae competunt in limitationem veram. 
Words which admit of a true meaning ought not to 
be received in a false sense, or one inconsistent with 
the facts. 

Thus, where there is a subject-matter which answers in 
every particular to a description contained in a will or 
deed, no part of the description can be rejected so as to 
make it include more. 

174. Non est regula quin fallat. There is no rule but it 
may fail ; exceptioiz proves the rule. 

(See Max. No. 83 ) 

Digitized by Microsoft® 


175. Non quod dictum est, sed quod factum est, 
inspicitur. Regard is to be had, not to zvhat is 
said, hit to ivkat is done. 

Where a lessor gives a receipt for money tendered to 
him as rent, this is in point of law a receipt for rent, and 
a waiver of any forfeiture which may have been pre- 
viously incurred ; although the lessor, before the tender, 
and on taking the rent, expressed his intention to accept 
the money only as compensation for the use of the land. 
(Croft v. Lnmley, 5 E. & B. 648.) 

176. Non videntur qui errant consentire. Tliose who 
make a mistake are not considered to consent. 

Mistake is of two kinds, either of fact or of law, the 
former, as a rule, will be relieved against " Ignorantiafacti 
excusat," provided there had been no acquiescence ; but 
with regard to the latter the Court will only grant relief 
in exceptional cases, " Ignorantia legis neminem excusat!' 
(See Lansdowne v. Lansdowne, 2 Jacob & Walker, 205.) 
Ignorance of foreign law is deemed ignorance of fact. (See 
generally hereon Snell's Eq. i6th ed. p. 396, and Max. 
No. no.) 

177. Noscitur a sociis. // may be known or explained 
from its associates ; i.e., the meaning may often be 
gathei'ed from the context {^'si non cognoscitur ex se"). 

This refers to the construction of words and clauses in 
contracts and written instructions. (See Chitty on Con- 
tracts, i6th ed. p. 102, and Max. No. 78.) 

178. Nudum pactum. A naked agreement ; i.e., a bare 
promise ; a contract not supported by necessary 

Digitized by Microsoft® 


179. Nullum scutaglum ponatur in regno nostro, nisi 
per communes consilium regni nostris. No 

scutage can be imposed in otir realm, save by the 
common council of the kingdom. 

All imperial taxes are fixed and settled by the House 
of Commons, in which House all " money Bills " 

* 180. Nullum tempus aut locus occurrit Regi. No 

time or place affects the king. 

Lapse of time will not generally bar the right of the 

181. NuUus olericus nisi causidicus. A clerk {in holy 
orders) was ever a pleader. 

In early times the clergy monopolised all learning, and 
out of their ranks all judges were formally appointed, all 
the inferior legal offices being also filled by the lower 
clergy : hence their name of clerks. From the year 1373- 
1530 A.D. no lawyer filled the office of Lord Chancellor, 
the post being all along occupied by the clergy. " Les 
jnges sont sages personnes et aiitentiqiies, sicomme, les 
archevesques, evesqiies, les chanoines, &c." 

* 182. NuUus commodum capere potest de injuria sua 
propria. No one can obtain an advantage by his 
own wrong. 

The examples of this maxim are numerous in every 
branch of the law. (See Twyn^s Case, i Sm. L. C. nth 
ed. p. I, and Maxs. Nos. 80 and 82.) 

Digitized by Microsoft® 


183. NuUus simile est idem, nisi quotuor pedibus 
ourrit. No like is exactly identical unless it rtms 
on all fours. 

184. Obiter dictum. Said by the way ; i.e. in passing. 

The " obiter dicta " of learned judges are frequently 
quoted, although the same do not directly relate to the 
actual facts upon which judgment is being delivered, 
consequently they are not so important. 

185. Odiosa et inhonesta non sunt praesumunda in 
lege. Odious and dishonest things are not to be pre- 
sumed in law. 

186, Officium nemini debet esse damnosum. A djity 
should be injurious to no one. 

No one should sustain any loss by reason of doing his 
duty. Thus, Justices of the Peace and County Court 
bailiffs should not personally suffer loss on account of 
their having, in the performance of their duty, to do 
things which are sometimes distasteful alike to themselves 
and others. 

* 187. Omne majus continet in se minus. The greater 
contains the less. 

A tender by a debtor to his creditor of an amount in 
excess of that owing is perfectly good for what is actually 
due. (See Chitty on Contracts, i6th ed. p. 326.) 

Digitized by Microsoft® 


188. Omne quod solo inaedificatur solo cedit. Every- 
thing built on the soil belongs to the soil. 

The grant of certain land will pass to the grantee 
all buildings and erections thereon, even though such 
erections be not specifically mentioned. (See Steph. 
Comm. I. p. 313, and Maxs. Nos. 46 and 224.) 

* 189. Omne testamentum morte consummatum est, 
et voluntas testatoris est ambulatoria usque ad 
mortem. Every testament is perfected by death, and 
the will of a testator is " ambulatory " (revocable) 
even unto death. 

A will is of no effect and does not operate until the 
death of the testator, until which time it may be revoked 
or altered by him at his pleasure. It speaks from the 
date of death, and not that of its execution. 

A will may be defined as follows : — Voluntatis nostrae 
justa sententia de eo quod quis post mortem suam fieri 
velet. (See Max. No. 261.) 

190. Omnia praesumuntur contra spoliatorem. Eveij 
presumption is made against a wrongdoer. 

See the third point of decision in A rmory v. Delamirie, 
I Sm. L. C. nth ed. p. 356, where it was decided that if 
a person withhold evidence in his possession, every 
presumption shall be adopted to his disadvantage, that 
is, such evidence shall be taken as adverse to his 

Digitized by Microsoft® 


191. Omnia praesumuntur rite et solenniter esse 
acta, donee probetur in contrarium. All things 
are presumed to have been rightly and properly per- 
formed, until the contrary is proved. 

Where there is a proper attestation clause to a will 
which appears on the face of it to be duly executed, the 
Court assumes that the Wills Act has been complied with, 
even although the witnesses may forget the circumstances. 
(See Vinnicombe v. Btitler, 34 L. J. (P. & M.) 18.) 

192. Omnis coactio a legato abesse debet. Every suit 
against an ambassador shotild fail. 

It has now been decided that an ambassador is entitled 
to absolute exemption from suits in the Courts of the 
country to which he is sent. (See The Magdalene Steam 
Navigation Co. v. Martin, 2 El. & El. 94, 28 L. J. 
Q. B. 310.) 

193. Omnis innovatio plus novitate perturbat quam 
utilitate prodest. Every innovation occasions more 
harm by its novelty than benefit by its utility. 

The principle here laid down applies rather to the 
immediate, than to the ultimate and permanent effects. 
(See Ashbyv. White, i Smith, L. C. nth ed. p. 240, and 
Chitty on Contracts, i6th ed. p. 900.) 

* 194. Omnis ratihabitio retrotrahitur et mandate 
priori aequiparatur. Every ratification has a 
retrospective effect and is equivalent to a previous 
authority or contract. 

Where a person acts as agent for another, and professes 


Digitized by Microsoft® 


(without authority) to contract for him, a subsequent 
assent by the principal is equivalent to a previous 
authority. (See Chitty on Contracts, i6thed. pp. 21 and 
279, also Maxs. Nos. 55 and 208.) 

195. Omnium contributione sarciatur quod per 
omnibus datum est. That which is given for all 
should be contributed by all. 

This maxim is the essence of the law as to general 
average, under which, where goods have been thrown 
overboard for the safety of a ship, that being the only 
alternative, contribution to the loss is made proportionately 
by the owners of the ship and all who have goods on 
board. (See Steph. Comm. II. Cap. V. Sec. X.) 

* 196. Once a mortgage always a mortgage. Where a 
document is once satisfactorily established as a 
mortgage, a mortgage it always will remain. 

This was not formerly so at Common Law, but now, 
since the Judicature Act, 1873, the rule of equity 
prevails. (See Snell's Eq. i6th ed. p. 238, and Max. 
No. 74.) 

197. Optimus legis interpres est consuetude. Custom 
is the best interpreter of law. 

(See also Maxs. Nos. 37 and 153.) 

198. Pacta privata juri publico derogare non possunt. 
Private contracts cannot repeal the public right — i.e. 
cannot adversely affect a public right. 

Digitized by Microsoft® 


* 199. Partus sequitur ventrem. The offspring follows 
the womb. 

This maxim illustrates the doctrine of property 
arising from accession, and is grounded on the right of 
occupancy. It has been held in the case of all tame 
and domestic animals, that the offspring belong to the 
owner of the mother, although in the case of human 
beings it is otherwise, except as to bastards. (See 
Steph. Comm. II. p. 21.) 

200. Patria potestas in pietate debet, non in atrocitate, 
consistere. A father's power ought to be based on 
affection and not on cruelty. 

Parents' power over their children is derived from 
their duty towards them, being given them, partly to 
enable them the more effectually to perform their duty, 
and partly as a recompense for their trouble in its dis- 
charge. (See Steph. Comm. II. Cap. III., also the recent 
Acts for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children.) 

201. Pendente lite nihil innovetur. Whilst a lawsuit 
is pending nothing must be altered. 

This principle or effect is limited to the rights of parties 
in that particular suit. 

202. Pluris est occulatus testis usus quam auriti 
decern. One eye-witness is worth more than ten 

Hearsay or second-hand evidence is generally inad- 
missible except in certain cases, such as questions of 
custom or pedigree. 

Digitized by Microsoft® 


203. Possessio fratris (de feodo simplici) facit sororem 
esse haeredem. Possessio?i by the brother of an 
estate in fee simple constitutes the sister heiress. 

Applicable to the old law of inheritance, under which 
the half-blood were totally excluded from the succession, 
land descending to a sister of the whole-blood of the 
person last seised, rather than to a brother of the half- 
blood. Now, however, by 3 & 4 Will. IV. c. 106, the 
half-blood are admitted. (See Steph. Comm. I. p. 274, 
also Maxs. Nos. 96 and 97.) 

204. Potior est conditio possidentis. The condition of 
one in possession is tlie more preferable. 

The old English adage, " Possession is nine-tenths of 
the law," now very qualified in its truth and application, 
probably had its origin in this maxim. (See Max. 
No. 118.) 

205. Praestat cautela quam medela. Caution is better 
than c?tre. 

206. Principia probant non probantur. It is not 

necessary to prove first principles — i.e. maxims (see 

207. Quaelibet concessio fortissime contra donatorem 
interpretanda est. Every grant is to be interpreted 
most strongly against the donor. 

(See Max. No. 272.) 

* 208. Quando aliquid mandatur, mandatur et omne 
per quod pervenitur ad illud. When anything is 

Digitized by Microsoft® 


ordered to be done, everything by which it is to be 
accomplished is also impliedly authorised. 

One of the rules affecting the law of principal and 
agent, is that the latter's authority includes all medium 
powers " per quod pervenitur ad illud." 

209. Quando jus domini regis et sutaditi concurrunt 
jus regis praeferri debet. When the right of the 
king and that of a subject ai'ise simultaneously the 
former takes precedence. 

* 210. Quando lex aliquid alicui concedit, concedere 
videtur et id sine quo res ipsa esse non potest. 
When the law gives a man anything it gives him 
that also without which the thing itself cannot exist. 

Under the following circumstances a way of necessity 
is implied — e.g. if A. grant to B. a piece of land 
surrounded on all sides by other land of A.'s B. will (in 
case there be no right of way to his land) have a right of 
way over A.'s surrounding land for such time as the 
necessity exists. The application of this maxim is very 
limited, and it refers more especially to contracts under 
seal. (See Chitty on Contracts, i6th ed. p. 115, and 
Max. No. 42.) 

* 211. Quando res non valet ut ago, valeat quantum 
valere potest. When anything does not operate in 
the way one intends, let it operate as far as it can. 

In the case of Roe v. Tranmarr, 2 Sm. L. C. p. 506, 
a deed purporting to be a release which could not 
operate as such because it attempted to convey a free- 
hold " in futuro," was held valid under the circumstances 
as a covenant to stand seised (see Max. No. 26). A 
lease in writing but not under seal, is not absolutely void, 

Digitized by Microsoft® 


but held good in equity as an agreement for a lease. 
(See Maxs. Nos. 271, 273, and 275.) 

212. Qui ex damnato coitu nascuntur inter liberos 
non computantur. Those born from an unlawful 
intercourse are not to he deemed among the lawful 

Bastards are incapable under our law of being heirs, 
and are held to be " nullius filii." By the civil law they 
could inherit being legitimated by the lawful marriage of 
their fathers and mothers. 

* 213. Qui facit per alium facit per se. He who acts 
throitgh another acts through himself. 

A contract made by an agent is looked upon in law 
as the contract of the principal, so agents need not be 
" sui juris" and infants, married women, and others are 
competent to act as such. The agent must, however, 
act within the scope of his authority. In Scott v. 
Shepherd, 2 Black. 892, an action was held to lie against 
the person who originally threw a squib which, after 
being knocked about by other persons in self-defence, 
ultimately hit and put out the plaintiff's eye. (See 
Chitty on Contracts, i6th ed. pp. 262-7, and Max. 
No. 240.) 

214. Qui haeret in litera haeret in cortice. He who 

considers only the mere wording of a document goes 
but skin deep into its meaning. 

(See Maxs. Nos. 26, ji, 177, and 273.) 

215. Qui minimum probat nihil probat. He proves 
nothing who proves too much. 

Digitized by Microsoft® 


216. Qui non improtaat, approtaat. He who does not 
blame, approves, 

(See next Max.) 

* 217. Qui non prohibet id quod prohibere potest, 
assentire videtur. He who does not forbid what 
he is able to prevent, appears to assent. 

So one who enables another to commit a fraud is 
answerable. A person who has a title to property offered 
for sale at an auction, and, knowing his title, stands by 
and encourages the sale or does not forbid it, will be 
bound by the sale, for " Qni non obstat quod obstare 
potest, facer e videtur" Teasdale v. Teasdale, Sel. Ch. Cas. 
59. (See Snell's Eq. i6th ed. cap. 3, and also Maxs. 
Nos. 35, 98, 216, and 222.) 

218. Qui pareit nocentibus, innocentes punit. He 

who spares the guilty, punishes the innocent. 

219. Qui peccat ebrius, luat sobrius. Let him who 

sins when drunk, be punished when sober. 

An intoxicated person can derive no privilege from a 
madness thus voluntarily contracted. On an indictment 
for murder, however, intoxication may be taken into 
consideration, to show that the act was not premeditated, 
and if there has been some contrivance or inducement to 
allure the party into drink, or any unfair advantage 
taken of his intoxication, the Court will sometimes 
relieve. (But see Chitty on Contracts, i6th ed. pp. 161- 

Digitized by Microsoft® 


* 220. Qui prior est tempore potior est jure. He who 
is first in point of time is preferred in law. 

(See Brace v. Duchess of Marlborough, 2 P. Wms. 49 
I, and Marsh v. Lee, 2 Wh. and Tud. L. C. Eq. 8th ed. 
p. 118.) Subject to the provisions of the Conveyancing 
and Law of Property Act, 1881, a mortgagee may recover 
in ejectment without giving notice to quit against a tenant 
who claims under a lease from the mortgagor, granted 
after the mortgage without the privity of the mortgagee. 
The rule stated in this maxim applies as between finders 
of "treasure trove," derelicts, and such like. (See also 
Keech v. Hall, i Sm. L. C. ilth ed. p. 511.) Where 
several persons have interests in the same property, and 
equal equities in every point except time, as in the case 
of a third mortgagee who had no notice of a second 
mortgage when making his advance, here both mort- 
gagees have equal equities, but the second mortgagee, 
being first in point of time, has the prior right. In this 
instance, however, the third mortgagee could avail 
himself of the advantages of tacking. (See Max. No. 
288, and Snell, i6th ed. pp. 10, 262-3.) 

* 221. Qui sentit commodum sentire debet et onus. 

He who receives the advantage ought also to siiffer 
the burden. 

Equity always acted on this principle when enforcing 
contribution between co-sureties. {Bering v. Earl of 
Winchilsea, 2 Wh. and Tud. L. C. Eq. 8th ed. 539, and 
Waugh v. Carver, 2 Hen. Blacks tone, 235 ; Cox v. Hick- 
man, I Sm. L. C. 414.) 

222. Qui tacet sentire videtur. He who is silent 
appears to consent. 

(See Maxs. Nos. 35, 216, 217.) 

Digitized by Microsoft® 


223. Qui vult decipi, decipiatur. Let him be deceived 
who wishes to be deceived. 

A person who has been guilty of such gross negli- 
gence as to court deception will obtain no relief from the 
Court. (See Maxs. Nos. 47 and 61.) 

* 224. Quicquid plantatur solo solo cedit. Whatever 
is planted in {or affixed to the soil) belongs to the 

This principle is stringently adhered to as between 
the heir-at-law and the executor of a deceased person, 
and as between mortgagors and mortgagees ; but it has 
been very considerably relaxed in its application to 
fixtures as between landlord and tenant. (See Chitty 
on Contracts, i6th ed. p. 415, and Maxs. Nos. 46 and 

• 225. Quicquid solvitur, solvitur secundum modum 
solventis, quicquid recipitur, recipitur secun- 
dum modum recipientis. Whatever money is 
paid, is paid according to the direction of the payer, 
whatever money received, is received according to 
that of the recipient. 

A debtor has, at the time of payment, the first right 
to direct the same to be appropriated in liquidation of 
whatever debt due to his creditor he chooses. If the 
debtor omit to do this, the creditor has the next right of 
appropriation to what debt he chooses. If neither party 
makes appropriation, the law makes it — generally to the 
earlier debt. (See Rule in Clayton's Case and Snell's 
Eq. 1 6th ed. pp. 470-1.) 

Digitized by Microsoft® 


226. Quisque sua acte perito est credendum. Every 
one experienced in his own calling is to be believed. 

(See Max. No. 43.) 

* 227. Quod ab initio non valet, in tractu temporis 
non convalescit. That which was void from its 
commencement, does not improve by lapse of time. 

Where any contract amounts to a constructive fraud, 
on account of its being opposed to some positive law, 
or public policy, it is void and incapable of ratification — 
it is different, however, when the contract is voidable 

228. Quod fieri non debuit factum valet. That which 
ought not to be done, is yet valid {sometimes) when 

Money paid in pursuance of an illegal contract which 
has been performed cannot, as a rule, be recovered back. 
(See also Max. No. 93.) 

229. Quod naturalis ratio inter homines constituit 
vocatur jus gentium. That which by natural 
reason prevails among men is called the law of 

International law is not grounded upon the caprice of 
any particular nation, but depends entirely upon mutual 
compacts and treaties between the various States. The 
construction also of such compacts is governed by the 
law of nations, being the only one to which all com- 
munities are equally amenable. Civil Law, as distin- 
guished from International Law, is thus defined : " Jus 
civili, est quod quisque sibi populus constituit" 

Digitized by Microsoft® 


230. Quod necessitas cogit, excusat. That which ne- 
cessity compels, she excuses. 

A person is not held criminally responsible for actions 
which he is forced to commit under threats of death or 
grievous bodily harm, continuing during the whole time 
of the commission of such acts. This non-liability, how- 
ever, does not extend to cases where the death of an 
innocent person results. (See Reg. v. M'Growther, 18 St. 
Tr. 394, and Maxs. Nos. 158 and 159.) 

231. Quod nuUius est, est domini regis. What is the 
property of no one, belongs to the king. 

Land will go to the Crown on the decease of the last 
owner or person actually seised intestate, and without 
heirs. So also do waifs (bona vacantia), and unclaimed 
wreckage. (See Wills Act.) 

232. Quod per me non possum, nee per alium. That 

which one cannot himself do, he cannot do by another. 

No one can delegate a power which he himself does 
not possess. (See Max. No. 161.) 

233. Quod populus postremum jussit, id jus ratum 
esto. That which a people has last ordained shall 
be the established law. 

(See Steph. Comm. I. p. 43, and Max. No. 137.) 

Digitized by Microsoft® 


* 234. Quod turpi ex causa promissum est, non valet. 

A n immoral {illegal or base) consideration will not 
siipport a promise (i.e. a contract). 

So also one founded on an impossible or purely moral 

(See Chitty on Contracts, i6th ed. p. 4, and Maxs. 
Nos. 80 and 82.) 

■ 235. Quoties in verbis nulla est ambiguitas, ibi nulla 
expositio contra verba fienda est. When there is 
no ambiguity in the language of an instrument, no 
interpretation is to be made contrary to the words. 

It is a rule that parol evidence contrary to the express 
written language itself is excluded, and the instrument 
itself is the only criterion of the intention of the parties. 
Parol evidence may be admissible to explain, but not to 
contradict or override, the express written contents of an 

(See Chitty on Contracts, i6th ed. p. 116) 

236. Quoties idem sermo duas sententias exprimit ea 
potissimum accipiatur, quae rei gerendae aptior 
est. When the same expression carries two mean- 
ings, that shall be preferred which is the more fitted 
to elucidate the subject-matter. 

This is one of the numerous rules for the construction 
of legal documents. (See Max. No. 26.) 

237. Res ipse loquitur. The thing speaks for itself 
{without proof). 

Frequently quoted in actions for damages for negli- 
gence. (See Max. No. 69, and Chitty on Contracts, 
i6th ed. pp. 523-723.) 

Digitized by Microsoft® 


238, Res inter alios acta alteri nocere non debet. A 
thing done between two persons ought not to injure 

(See Duchess of Kingston's Case, 2 Sm. L. C. 731.) 

239. Res judicata pro veritate accipiatur. A point 
judicially decided is taken to be correct. 

This is conclusive so far as Courts of inferior jurisdic- 
tion are concerned, until the judgment is reversed. 

* 240. Respondeat superior. Let tlie principal answer . 

One authorising an unlawful act to be done by his 
servant, is himself answerable. The maxim does not 
apply as against the Crown. See also Max. No. 213. 
Also " Qui per alium facit per seipsum facere videtur." 
Also the case of Thompson v. Davenport, 2 Sm. L. C. p. 
37g. Where at the time of sale the vendor is aware that 
there is a principal, but does not know who he is and 
debits the agent, he may nevertheless resort to the 
principal when known. 

241. Rex debet esse sub lege, quia lex facit regem. 

The king otight to be subservient to the law, for the 
law makes the king. 

This is so in our realm at the present time, although 
many of our earlier Sovereigns appeared to think other- 
wise, and acted accordingly. 

Digitized by Microsoft® 


242. Rex in sao regno non habet parum. In his own 
kingdom the king has no equal. 

243. Rex nunquanx moritur. The king never dies. 

The person only is changed, but the Sovereign always 
exists — i.e. the Crown never falls vacant. 

244. Rex peccare non potest. The king can do no wrong 

245. Salus populi est suprema lex. The public safety 
{welfare) is the supreme law. 

The prosperity of its people, and the proper mainten- 
ance of order and security, as also the diffusion of domestic 
and social happiness, should be the first and main object 
of every government. 

246. Scientia utrinque par pares contrahentes facit. 

Equal knowledge on both sides makes the position of 
the contracting parties the same. 

In an insurance policy there are many things relating 
to the subject-matter thereof as to which the insured can 
be innocently silent — for instance, he need not mention 
any facts within the insurer's own knowledge ; for an 
insurer cannot insist that a policy is void because the 
insurer did not inform him that which he already knew. 

Digitized by Microsoft® 


247. Scire debes cum quo contrabis. One should know 
zvith whom he contracts. 

This is self-evident, so that a person may know whom 
to sue and look to for damages in case of a breach of the 

248. Scribere est agere. To write is the same thing as 
to act. 

A deed in writing is, at the present time, sufficient to 
effect the transfer of property, without any actual livery 
of seisin. 

* 249. Seisina(nonjus)facit stipitem. Seisin {not the 
law) makes the root of descent. 

This was formerly a most important maxim, but the 
doctrine is exploded by the Inheritance Act, 3 & 4 Will. 
IV. c. 106, which enacts that " Descent shall in all cases 
be traced from the last purchaser, whether he may or may 
not have actually obtained possession." The purchaser is 
defined by the Act as being the last person who had a 
right to the land who cannot be proved to have acquired 
the land by descent, or by certain means which render 
the land part of, or descendible in the same manner as 
other land acquired by descent {e.g., escheat, partition, or 
enclosure). Under the old law no one could be such an 
ancestor as to have descent traced from him, unless he had 
been in actual possession of the land, or in receipt of the 
rents and profits prior to his death. 

Digitized by Microsoft® 


250. Semper in dubiis benigniora praeferenda. In 

doubtful matters the more liberal {constructions) are 
to be preferred. 

(See Max. No. 26.) 

251. Semper in obscuris quod minimum estsequimur. 

In obscure (constructions) the law follows that which 
is least obscure. 

( Williams v. Crosling, 3 C. B. 962, and Max. No. 26.) 

252. Semper praesumitur pro negante. Presumption 
is ever in favour of the negative. 

The " onus probandi " lies on the plaintiff (see Maxs. 
Nos. 24 and 69). It is also to be remembered that every 
one is presumed in law to be innocent until the contrary 
is proved. 

253. Si plura sint debita, vel plus legatum fuerit^ ad 
quae catalla defuncti non sufflciant, fiat ubique 
defalcatio, excepto regis privilegio. If the debts 
or legacies of a deceased are greater than the assets 
will satisfy, the same shall abate rateably, the 
privilege of the Crown excepted. 

If the assets of a deceased person are insufficient to 
pay the debts and the legacies bequeathed by his will, all 
the general legacies abate rateably. A specific legacy, as 
of a piece of plate, is not liable to abatement, until the 
fund applicable for general legacies is exhausted ; but, on 
the other hand, it is liable to ademption — i.e., it may have 
been otherwise disposed of by the testator in his lifetime 

Digitized by Microsoft® 


Debts in every case form a first charge on the estate. 
(See Steph. Comm. II. p. 300.) 

* 254. Sic utere tuo ut alienum non laedas. So enjoy 
your own rights as not to injure those of another. 

Where the natural course of a stream is over the 
surface of lands belonging to different proprietors, no 
proprietor above can diminish the quantity or injure the 
quality of the water which descends ; nor can a proprietor 
below throw back the water without licences from the 
proprietors above. Aedijicare in tuo propria solo non 
licet quod alteri noceat. 

255. Simplex eommendatio non obligat. Mere recom- 
mendation will not render a man liable. 

Where a purchaser is satisfied without express war- 
ranty, a mere representation of the quality by the seller 
will not entitle him to recover, unless he can show the 
same to have been fraudulently made. (See Chandelor v. 
Lopus, I Sm. L. C. p. 54, and Max. No. 28.) 

256. Socius mei socii, socius meus non est. The 

partner of my partner is not necessarily my partner. 

257. Statuta pro publico commode late interpretan- 

tur. Statutes passed for the public good should be 

constriced literally. 

Digitized by Microsoft® 


258. Sublata caussl, toUitur efifectus. The cause being 
gone, the effect also ceases. 

This is a fact applicable alike to law as to physics. 

259. Summum jus, summa injuria. Where the law is 
most strictly administered, it sometimes causes the 
greatest wrong. 

It frequently happens that a plaintiff or defendant loses 
his case, although morally in the right, on account of 
some technicality which has not been observed. 

* 260. Suppressio veri suggestio est falsi. With- 
holding the truth suggests falsehood. 

(See also Max. No. 98.) 

261, Testamentum omne morte consummatur. Every 
will is perfected by death. 

A will speaks from the time of death only. (See Max. 
No. 189.) 

262. Testes ponderantur, non numerantur. Witnesses 
are weighed {considered at their proper worth), not 

The evidence of one credible witness counts for more 
than that of any number who cannot be relied upon. 

Digitized by Microsoft® 


263. Testis nemo in sua causa esse potest. No one 

can be a witness on his own behalf. 

This rule applies to criminal charges, and its effect 
is continually being modified by legislation. The 
opinion of those best qualified to judge, differs whether 
or not all accused persons should not be competent 

264. Traditio loqui facit chartam. The delivery of a 
deed makes it effectual. 

The delivery of a deed is equally important with the 
signing and sealing. Both the delivery and sealing are 
performed at the present day, by placing the finger on 
the seal and repeating the words, " I deliver this as my 
act and deed." A delivery may be either absolute or 
conditional. (See Steph. Comm. I. Cap, XVII., and 
Max. No. 124.) 

265. Ubi eadem ratio, ibi eadem lex; et de similibus 
idem est judicium. Where there is the same 
reason, there is the same law ; and concerning 
things similar, the judgment is similar. 

(See Max. No. in.) 

* 266. Ubi jus ibi remedium. There is no wrong 
without a remedy, or, Where there is a legal right 
there is a remedy. 

An action will lie for an injury although no actual 
damage be sustained, as in the case of Ashby v. White 
(temp. 2 Anne, 1704, 14 State Trials, 695), where it was 
decided that an action lay against a returning officer for 

Digitized by Microsoft® 


refusing to admit the vote of a duly qualified elector, 
although the persons for whom he tendered his votes 
were elected. There may be a " dammtm absque 
injurid" (loss without a wrongful act) for which no 
action will lie. Thus no action will lie against one's 
neighbour, who builds on his own land a mill, whereby 
the profits of one's own mill (built on adjoining property) 
are diminished, although in the case put considerable 
loss may result. This maxim formed the root of all 
equitable decisions, and was the basis upon which the 
Court of Chancery originally acted, when interfering with 
Courts of Law, or in supplying remedies for those wrongs 
which the latter failed "to redress. 

267. Ubi nullum matrimonium, ibi nulla dos. Where 
there is no marriage, there is no dower. 

A woman, in order to be entitled to dower on the 
death of her husband, must have been his actual wife at 
the time of his decease : there must have been no dis- 
solution of the marriage. The law as to dower is now 
governed by 3 & 4 Will. IV. c. 105. (See Steph. 
Coram. I. p. 169.) 

268. Unum est tacere, aliud celare. To be silent or to 
conceal are two different things. 

A party to a contract is not bound to disclose latent 
defects, but he must not fraudulently conceal, or the 
contract will be voidable. The rule as to defects that 
are patent to all is otherwise. 

Digitized by Microsoft® 


269. Unumquodque dissolvitur eodem modo quo 
coUigatum est. Every obligation can only be dis- 
solved in the same manner as it was created. 

Thus a deed can only be revoked by deed, and not 
by a simple written instrument. This, of course, subject 
to the ruling of Courts of competent jurisdiction. 

270. Utile per inutile non vitiatur. That which is use- 
ful is not vitiated by that which is useless. 

Where the meaning of any document is clear, its 
effect is not marred or upset by the insertion therein of 
superfluous and meaningless words. 

271. Valeat quantum valere potest. Let it stand as far 
as possible. Let it pass for what it is worth. 

(See Max. No. 211.) 

* 272. Verba ehartarum fortius accipiuntur contra 
proferentem. Words of deeds or gi'ants are to be 
taken most strongly against the grantor. 

Thus, a rent of \os. granted by tenants in com- 
mon is several, and the grantee will have ioj. from 
each : aliter if a rent of ioj. be reserved. This principle 
does not apply to a grant by the Crown at the suit of 
the grantee. Nor must such a rule of construction be 
followed till all others fail, for the law supposes that a 
person will not use language to his own detriment. (See 
Chitty on Contracts, i6th ed. p. 113, and Maxs. Nos. 18 
and 207.) 

Digitized by Microsoft® 


* 273. Verba debent intelligi cum effectu, ut res 
magis valeat quam pereat. Words ought to be 
understood with effect, that a thing may rather be 
preserved than destroyed. 

(See Roe v. Tranmarr, 2 Sm. L. C. 506.) This rule 
is closely allied to Benignae faciendae sunt interpretationes 
chartarum ut res magis valeat quam pereat. (The con- 
struction of deeds shall be made liberally that the 
subject-matter may rather prevail than perish.) Con- 
struction must in all cases be reasonable, liberal, and 
favourable. (See Chitty on Contracts, i6th ed, p. 97, and 
Maxs. Nos. 26, y%, 145, and 275.) 

* 274. Verba generalia restringuntur ad habilitatem 
rei vel aptitudinem personae. General words 
must be narrowed either to the nature of the subject- 
matter or to the capability of the person. 

Such words must be understood with reference to the 
estate which is in the grantor at the time of the grant. 
Thus a bill of sale which purported to assign to R. " all 
the household goods and furniture of every kind and 
description in a certain house, and more particularly 
mentioned and set forth in an inventory or schedule of 
even date therewith," was held to apply only to the 
goods specified in the inventory which did not comprise 
all the goods in the house. In construing a statute 
general words must not be extended unduly. (See 
Chitty on Contracts, i6th ed. p. 102, and Max. No. 88.) 

* 275. Verba intentioni debent inservire. Words 
ought to be made subservient to the intention — i.e. 
should be construed so as to give effect to the 
intention — " ut res magis valeat quam pereat." 

{Roe V. Tranmarr, 2 Sm. L. C. 506.) The rule laid 

Digitized by Microsoft® 


down in this maxim is one of the first and most important 
in the construction of contracts, so that they may be 
enforced according to the sense in which the parties 
mutually intended. Words and expressions are to be 
understood in their plain, ordinary, and popular sense, 
unless they may by custom of trade or the like have 
acquired a peculiar or technical sense and meaning. The 
" golden rule " as regards Acts of Parliament is that the 
words must be construed in their plain and grammatical 
sense and as mentioned in the preceding paragraph. (See 
Chitty on Contracts, i6th ed. p. 95, and Maxs. Nos. 26, 
39, 122, and 273.) 

276. Verba relata in esse videntur. Words referredto 
are deemed to be incorporated. 

Where a father infeoff his son, to have and to hold to 
him and his heirs, and the son then infeoff his father, 
purporting to do so only as fully as his father infeoffed 
him, by this, the father has a fee simple. On this same 
principle, existing but unattested papers, or documents, 
may be incorporated in a will, if referred to in such a way 
as to render their identity indisputable. 

277. Veritas uominis toUit errorem demonstrationis. 

Correctness in the name removes an error of demon- 

In the construction of wills, this rule has frequently 
been acted on, but it must be first shown that there is an 
error of demonstration ; until when the above maxim 
has, of course, no application, (See Drake v. Drake, 8 
House of Lords Cases, 172 ; also 2 Smith, L. C. p. 515.) 

Digitized by Microsoft® 


278. Vetustas pro lege semper habetur. An old custom 
is ever regarded as law. 

279. Via trita est tutissima. The beaten track is the 

This is a good and safe rule to follow, but has its 
" proving exceptions " in the many originators, scientists, 
&c., of whom England is so justly proud. 

280. Vicarius non habet vicarium. A locum tenens 
(i.e. substitute) cannot appoint another in his stead. 

(See Max. No. 55.) 

* 281. Vietus vietori in expensis eondemnandus est. 

The loser must defray the costs of a successful 

By the Judicature Acts, in the case of a trial by jury, 
costs follow the event, unless the judge shall, for good 
cause, order otherwise, but in all other cases, they are in 
the discretion of the Court. (See Steph. Comm. III. 
p. 561.) 

* 282. Vigilantibus et non dormientibus succurrunt 

jura (or aequitas subvenit). Laws come to the help 
of the vigilant, not of the sleepy (also written " equity 
assists the vigilant" &c.). 

Before relieving a party from a contract on the ground 
of fraud, it must be shown to the Court that he exercised 
a due degree of caution before entering into such contract. 
The misrepresentation must be material, and the party 
claiming relief have been misled by it It is not essential 
that the person making the false statement should know 
it to be such. The Statutes of Limitations are founded on 

Digitized by Microsoft® 


the principle that a dilatory claimant deserves no assist- 
ance. (See Chitty on Contracts, i6th ed. p. 725, and 
Max. No. 127.) 

* 283. Volenti non fit injuria. No injury can be done 
to a willing person. 

If a person voluntarily consents to an injury, he must 
bear the loss. A woman cannot herself support an action 
for seduction to which she is a consenting party. Her 
parent or employer, however, may do so, and is entitled 
to damages for loss of her service, the seduction in such 
case being the cause, ^^ per quod servitiani amisit." ,» 

284. Voluntas, est justa sententia de eo quod quis post 
mortem suam fieri velit. A will is an exact 
opinion or determination concerning that which each 
one wishes to be done after his death. 

285. Voluntas in delietis, non exitus spectantur. In 

criminal cases the intention and not the result is 

(See Maxs. Nos. 9 and 1 16.) 

286. Vox emissa volat, litera scripta manet. Word 
of mouth files away, things written remain. 

The effect of a written contract cannot be varied in 
its terms by parol evidence. (See Max. No. 143.) 

* 287. Where one of two innocent parties must sufl'er 
by the fraud of another, he who has enabled the 
fraud to be committed must be the sufferer. 

Thus, if A. on the strength of a representation by B., 


Digitized by Microsoft® 


which is false, signs a receipt, and C, on the faith of the 
receipt, completes a purchase — here A. must suffer, and 
not C. (See French v. Hope, 56 L. J. Ch. 363.) 

* 288. Where there is equal equity the law must pre- 
vail. That is, who is first in point of time. 

(See Max. No. 220.) 


Digitized by Microsoft® 

Digitized by Microsoft® 

Digitized by Microsoft® 

Digitized by Microsoft®