Important Legal Terms and Phrases Every Law Student Should Know



Ab antique- of old; of an ancient date.

Ab initio- from the very beginning.

Ab intra- from inside; within.

Ab extra- from outside.

Actus reas- a guilty act.

Ad hoc- formed for a particular purpose.

Ad idem- to the same point or matter; of the same mind.

Ad infinitum- to an indefinite extent.

Ad informandum judicis- for the judge’s information.

Ad rerferendum- subject to reference.

Ad valorem- according to the value.

Alieni juris- of another’s right.

Aliunde- from elsewhere.

Alieno solo- in another’s land.

Alibi- a claim or piece of evidence that one was elsewhere when an act is alleged to have taken place.

Amicus curiae- friend of the court.

Animus- intention.

Ante- before.

Audi alteram partem- hear the other side or no man should be condemned unheard.



Beneficium ordinis- privilege of order.

Bona fide- in good faith.

Bona vacantia- empty goods.



Caveat- may he beware

Caveat emptor- let the buyer beware.

Caveat venditor- let the seller beware.

Certiorari- to be informed.

Compos mentis- possessed of mind.

Cor (coram)- in the presence of the people.

Corpus juris- body of law.

Corpus juris civilis- body of civil law.

Corpus delicti- body of the crime.

Custodia legis- in the custody of the law; the taking seizing or holding of something by lawful authority.



Damnum sine injuria- damage without violation of legal rights.

De bene esse- of well-being.

De facto- in fact or in reality.

De jure- of the law.

De novo- Anew.

Detenu- a person held in custody’ a detainee.

De lege ferenda- of (or concerning) the law that is to come into force.

De lege lata- of (or concerning) the law that is in force.

De minimis (non curat lex)- the law is not concerned with trivial matters.

Dictum- a saying.

Dissentiente- differing in opinion.

Doli (in) capax- (in) capable of wrong.



En banc- as a full bench.

Erratum- an error in printing or writing.

Ex parte- outside the awareness of the party; for one party only.

Ex gratia- out of grace; as a matter of grace, favor.

Ex officio- by virtue of holding an office.

Ex post facto- after the fact.



Fati accompli- a false stand, a mistake.

Force majeure- an event that no human foresight could have anticipate or which, if anticipated, is too strong to be controlled.



Habeas corpus- you have the body.



Ibid- in the same place.

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Ignorantia juris non excusat-

In camera- In a chamber.

In curia- a court of justice.

In limine- at the beginning or on the threshold.

In personam— against the person.

In re- in the matter of.

In rem- a right or judgement related to the use or ownership of an item of property.

Inter alia- among the other things.

In situ- in its place.

Intra- in; near; within.

Intra vires- within the powers.

Ultra vires- beyond the powers.

Inter vivos- among the living.

Ipso facto- by the very fact or act.

Injuria sine damnum- injury without damage.



Litigant- a party to a lawsuit in a court.

 Locus in quo- the place in which.



Mens rea- a guilty mind.



Non est factum (suum)- it is not my deed.



Obiter dictum- things said by the way; additional observations, remarks.

Onus (probandi)- load or burden.



Pari passu- with equal step.

Per- ‘though, by means of’

Per curium (per. cur.)- by the court.

Per incurium- though lack of care.

Per se- by itself.

Post- subsequent to; after.

Prima facie- at first look.



Quasi- as if, almost.

Qui facet per alium facit per se- he who acts through another, acts through himself.



Ratio decidendi- the reason for deciding.

Res judicata- a matter that has been decided.

Res ipsa loquitor- the things speak for itself.



Sic- so, thus.

Sine die- without fixing a day.

Stare decisis- to stand by decided matters.

Sub judice- in the course of trail.

Sui generis- of its own kind.

Suo moto- on its own motion.

Sine qua non- without which it could not be, an indispensable action or condition.

Status quo- to the existing state of affairs or circumstances.



Ultra vires- beyond the powers.



Vice versa- on the contrary.

Volenti non fit injuria- to one who is willing or consents for it, no harm is done.

Viva voce- by voice.

This information has been compiled by Soumya Shefali Chandrakar, a first-year law student of Hidayatullah National Law University





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