Latin A-F terms

a fortiori – From stronger

An a fortiori argument is an “argument from a stronger reason”, meaning that because one fact is true, that a second related and included fact must also be true.



a mensa et thoro – from table and bed

Divorce a mensa et thoro indicates legal separation without legal divorce



a posteriori – from later

An argument derived from subsequent event


condictio indebiti

The condictio indebiti is an action in civil (Roman) law whereby a plaintiff may recover what he has paid the defendant by mistake. This action does not lie, 1. if the sum was due ex aequitate, or by a natural obligation; 2. if he who made the payment knew that nothing was due, for qui consulto dat quod non debet, praesumitur donare (who gives purposely what he does not owe, is presumed to make a gift).[1][2][3] The action is extant in civil (Roman) or hybrid law regimes, e.g. Norway,[4] South Africa and Scotland .[5]

Actio personalis moritur cum persona:Some legal causes of action can survive the death of the claimant or plaintiff, for example actions founded in contract law. However, some actions are personal to the plaintiff, defamation of character being one notable example. Therefore, such an action, where it relates to the private character of the plaintiff, comes to an end on his death, whereas an action for the publication of a false and malicious statement which causes damage to the plaintiff’s personal estate will survive to the benefit of his or her personal representatives.The principle also exists to protect the estate and executors from liability for strictly personal acts of the deceased, such as charges for fraud

Ad quod damnum or ad damnum is a Latin phrase meaning “According to the harm” or “appropriate to the harm.” It is used in tort law as a measure of damage inflicted, and implying a remedy, if one exists, ought to correspond specifically and only to the damage suffered. It is also used in pleading, as the statement of the plaintiff’s money loss or damages claimed

Ad litem is a term used in law to refer to a party appointed by a court to act in a lawsuit on behalf of another party—for instance, a child or an incapacitated adult—who is deemed incapable of representing him or herself. An individual who acts in this capacity is generally called a guardian ad litem

Adjournment sine die (from the Latin “without day”) means “without assigning a day for a further meeting or hearing”‘ to adjourn an assembly sine die is to adjourn it for an indefinite period. A legislative body adjourns sine die when it adjourns without appointing a day on which to appear or assemble again

Amicus curiae or amicus curiæ (plural amici curiae or amici curiæ respectively) is a legal Latin phrase, literally translated as “friend of the court”, that refers to someone, not a party to a case, who volunteers to offer information on a point of law or some other aspect of the case to assist the court in deciding a matter before it. The information may be a legal opinion in the form of a brief, a testimony that has not been solicited by any of the parties, or a learned treatise on a matter that bears on the case. The decision whether to admit the information lies with the discretion of the court

Animus nocendi: In jurisprudence, Animus nocendi (Latin animus, “mind” + gerund of noceo, “to harm”) is the subjective state of mind of the author of a crime, with reference to the exact knowledge of illegal content of his behaviour, and of its possible consequences

Audi alteram partem (or audiatur et altera pars) is a Latin phrase that means, literally, hear the other side. It is most often used to refer to the principle that no person should be judged without a fair hearing in which each party is given the opportunity to respond to the evidence against him.

“Audi alteram partem” is considered a principle of fundamental justice or equity in most legal systems. The principle includes the rights of a party or his lawyers to confront the witnesses against him, to have a fair opportunity to challenge the evidence presented by the other party, to summon one’s own witnesses and to present evidence, and to have counsel, if necessary at public expense, in order to make one’s case properly

Aut dedere aut judicare

In law, the principle of aut dedere aut judicare (Latin for extradite or prosecute) refers to the legal obligation of states under public international law to prosecute persons who commit serious international crimes where no other state has requested extradition. This obligation arises regardless of the extraterritorial nature of the crime and regardless of the fact that the perpetrator and victim may be of alien nationality

Beneficium inventarii:

Literally benefit of the inventory) is a legal doctrine introduced into Roman law by Justinian I to limit the liability of heirs resulting from an insolvent estate.The doctrine, which is in force today in many civil law systems, applies to both wills and intestate successions. An heir may accept a succession under beneficium inventarii without being liable for the debts attaching to the estate or to the claims of legatees beyond the estate’s value as previously determined by inventory.

Bona fide

Good faith, or in Latin bona fides (bona fide means “in good faith”), is good, honest intention (even if producing unfortunate results) or belief. In law, it is the mental and moral state of honesty, conviction as to the truth or falsehood of a proposition or body of opinion, or as to the rectitude or depravity of a line of conduct. This concept is important in law, especially equitable matters.In contemporary English, “bona fides” is sometimes used as a synonym for credentials, background, or documentation of a person’s identity. “Show me your bona fides” can mean: Why should I trust you (your good faith in this matter)?

Contra proferentem

Iis a rule of contractual interpretation which provides that an ambiguous term will be construed against the party that imposed its inclusion in the contract – or, more accurately, against (the interests of) the party who imposed it. The interpretation will therefore favor the party that did not insist on its inclusion. The rule applies only if, and to the extent that, the clause was included at the unilateral insistence of one party without having been subject to negotiation by the counter-party. Additionally, the rule applies only if a court determines the term to be ambiguous, which often forms the substance of a contractual dispute.

It translates from the Latin literally to mean “against (contra) the one bringing forth (the proferens).”The reasoning behind this rule is to encourage the drafter of a contract to be as clear and explicit as possible and to take into account as many foreseeable situations as it can.

Condictio indebiti

Is an action in civil (Roman) law whereby a plaintiff may recover what he has paid the defendant by mistake. This action does not lie, 1. if the sum was due ex aequitate, or by a natural obligation; 2. if he who made the payment knew that nothing was due

Dominium directum et utile

Latin legal term referring to the “complete and absolute dominion [in property]”; i.e. the union of the title and the exclusive use

Duorum in solidum dominium vel possessio esse non potest

Latin legal term meaning “Sole ownership or possession cannot be in two persons” / “Two persons cannot own or possess a thing in the entirety.”

It is a variation of a more popular Latin legal phrase, which is attested to in Coke’s Institutes: Duo non possunt in solido unam rem possidere: “Ownership of a whole cannot be shared; right of ownership must be divided into portions.”


Functus officio: Latin for “having performed his office,” is a legal term used to describe a public official, court, governing body, statute, or other legal instrument that retains no legal authority because his or its duties and functions have been completed. The term is most commonly used by a higher court as a justification for vacating or overruling all or part of a lower court’s opinion. For example, if a plaintiff in a United States federal court, after filing a complaint but failing to serve it on the defendant, then files an amended complaint, the plaintiff cannot then serve the initial complaint on the defendant, because the filing of the amended complaint renders the original “functus officio


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