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Legal jargon made simple

about 2 years ago DenningMR

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Image credit: latintutor.net


How often have we read legal terms and wondered what they meant? Well, fear no more, here is a list of legal terms and a layman?s explanation of their meaning.


Ab initio: from the beginning

Actus reus: the guilty act, a factor that is needed for criminal liability

Ad valorem: according to value, example, tax which is ad valorem

Adjournment sine die: adjourned without a date set

Amicus curiae: a friend of the court, a person who is not party or professional witness to the case, that assists the court with information

Bona fide: in good faith

Caveat emptor: let the buyer beware

Ex facie: on the face of it

Ex parte: by one party, means a case that is heard or a decision given without the presence of the other party

In camera: a hearing or proceeding that is conducted in private without the presence of the public

In futuro: in the future

Inter alia: amongst others

Locus standi: the right to appear and be heard by the court

Mala fide: bad faith

Mandamus: an order by the court ordering related officials to perform some administrative duty

Mens rea: guilty mind, one of the requirements for a crime to be committed

Quantum meruit: meaning "what one has earned". In the context of contract law, it means something along the lines of "reasonable value of services rendered"

Ratio decidendi: reason for the decision, the reason as to why the court decided

Res judicata: a matter that has been finally decided by the court and cannot be adjudicated again

Stare decisis: judicial precedent, where courts are generally bound by the prior decision of other courts

Sub judice: under judicial consideration by the court and therefore prohibited from public discussion elsewhere


Okay ? now that you are armed with a decent vocabulary of Latin legal terms. Go out and impress!

If not, just confuse ... that works too.

This article is for informational purposes only and should not be taken as legal advice. Every situation is unique and dependent on the facts (ie, the circumstances surrounding your individual case) so we recommend that you consult a lawyer before considering any further action. All articles have been scrutinized by a practicing lawyer to ensure accuracy.
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