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Brand van Zyl Law Library

Glossary of Latin and Foreign Words and Phrases
compiled by the reference staff of the UCT Law Library.

A a contrario a fortiori a posteriori a priori a quo ab extra ab initio (ab init.) ab intestatio ab intra ab origine abberatio ictus on the other hand; in contrast with stronger reason; more conclusively; all the more so from the latter; (reasoning) from effect to cause from the former; (reasoning) from cause to effect from which (the court a quo refers to the court of first instance) from without from the start or inception from an intestate (one dying without a will) from within from the beginning deflection of the blow (the perpetrator strikes someone other than the person intended) addition; combining two things belonging to different persons into a single unit non-essential agreed or implied terms action by the lessee against the lessor to enforce performance of the hiring contract action lying against the owner of an animal for injury or damage caused by the animal action brought by the purchaser against the seller to enforce performance of the contract of sale or to claim damages personal action real action; an action for the recovery of a thing an action for setting aside the contract and for restitution


accidentalia actio conducti

actio de pauperie

actio empti (ex empto)

actio in personam actio in rem actio redhibitoria

actus reus ad corpus addendum (pl. addenda) ad hoc ad hominem ad idem ad infinitum (ad inf) ad litem ad mensuram ad quantitatem ad sectam (ads) ad valorem aedilitian actions aliter aliunde amicus curiae

animus animus furandi animus contrahendi animus iniurandi animus nocendi animus possidendi animus revocandi animus testandi animus vendendi ante auctoritas audi alteram partem

au fait autrefois acquit

an action element in a crime (as opposed to a mental component) by lump without measure something to be added for a special or particular purpose pertaining to the person being of the same mind; in agreement to infinity for the purpose of the law suit/case by measure (eg per unit/item) see ad mensuram [q.v.] at the suit of according to the value these are the actio redhibitoria & actio quanti minoris [q.v.] otherwise; in a different way extrinsic; from elsewhere friend of the court (someone who advises the court but is not counsel in the cause) intention; will; motive the intention to steal the intention of entering into a binding agreement intent to cause harm the intention of harming or causing damage the intention of possessing as owner the intention to revoke (a will) the intention of making a will the intention to sell before; prior to authority; power hear the other side; principle meaning both sides (to a dispute) must be heard acquainted with the facts; expert; proficient already acquitted

autrefois convict B boedelskeiding bona fide bona vacantia boni mores brutum fulmen C cadit quaestio caput casus belli causa causa causans casus omissus

already convicted

the division of a joint estate in good faith goods without an apparent owner the legal convictions of the community empty threat

caveat caveat emptor caveat subscriptor caveat venditor certum certus quando ceteris paribus circa compos mentis condicio ob turpen causam

conditio sine qua non confer (cf.) coram (cor.) consensus

the question falls away; leaves no further room for argument chapter; heading an act justifying war cause or a basis for action; a reason or consideration the immediate cause a contingency, matter or provision that ought to have been inserted or provided for in the law but was omitted a warning or caution let the buyer beware let the signer (of a document) beware let the seller beware certainty certain when other things being equal around or about (the time) of sound mind a remedy available to an innocent party to recover his performance (what he has given or paid) condition without which not; a necessary condition compare in the presence of agreement; unanimity

consensus ad idem consortium omnis vitae constante matrimonio contra contra bonos mores contra proferentem see verba fortius... contrectatio contumelia cui bono? culpa lata culpae capax culpae incapax cur ad vult see curia advisari vult curator ad litem curia advisari vult (cur ad vult)

meeting of the minds; like-mindedness; being in agreement physical, moral and spiritual community of life [such as marriage] during the subsistence of the marriage against; opposing contrary to good morals

taking control of a thing (an element of theft) insult or contempt who benefits or gains? (from a crime) gross negligence accountable not accountable curator for the court case the court wishes to consider; reserves its judgment

D de facto de jure de lege ferenda de lege lata de minimis non curat lex de novo delegatus non delegare potest detentio dictum (pl. dicta) dictum et promissum in fact; actual; existing in point of law; by right the law as it ought (ideally) to be the law as it (actually) is or as it has been made or passed the law does not concern itself with trifles afresh a delegate cannot herself delegate effective or physical control a remark, statement or saying a seller’s material statement to the buyer during negotiations concerning the quality of the res vendita the day when an obligation arises a day on which the courts did not sit

dies cedit dies non

dies venit dignitas diligens paterfamilias doli capax doli incapax dolus dolus directus dolus malus dominium dominus donatio donatio inter vivos

donatio mortis causa

the day when an obligation is due or payable dignity diligent/careful head of the family; the reasonable man capable of crime incapable of crime the intent to cause harm the direct intent to do harm bad faith ownership owner gift; donation donation made with intention that the receiver should enjoy the benefit of the gift while the donor is still alive donation made in contemplation of the death of the donor and conditional thereon

E eiusdem generis of the same kind; the interpretation rule that general words following specific words must be restricted to things of the same nature as those specified contract of sale for a thing not yet in existence on condition that it subsequently comes into existence in contract condition contract of sale for a thing not yet in existence on the mere hope that it may come to exist in the future in relation to all therefore in logic, the fallacy of thinking that a happening which follows another must be its result

emptio rei speratae

emptio spei

erga omnes ergo ergo post hoc

erratum (pl. errata) error in corpore

error in negotio error in persona error in substantia

essentialia et alia (et al) et sequentes (et seq) ex abundanti cautela ex cathedra ex curia ex contractu ex delictu ex aequo et bono exceptis excipiendis exceptio non adimpleti contractus

exempli gratia (eg) ex gratia ex lege ex mero motu ex officio ex parte

ex post facto

fault; error mistake about the subject matter or object of performance of the agreement mistake concerning the nature of the juristic act entered into mistake concerning the persons between whom the obligation exists mistake concerning important attributes or qualities of the agreed subject matter/object things which are of the essence (of an agreement) and others and subsequent (pages) as an added precaution; from over caution from the chair with authority out of court arising from a contract arising from a delict according to what is equitable and just excepting those (factors) which should be excepted a defence for a defendant who is sued on a reciprocal contract by a plaintiff who himself has not yet performed or tendered to perform for example gratuitous; voluntary; out of kindness (implying absence of legal right) by virtue of the law of his own free will by right of office of one part or side; an ex parte application is a application by one side when the other is not, does not need to be present from after the deed

expressio unius, exclusio alterius expressis verbis F facta probanda facta probantia fama felo de se ferae natura fiat justitia, ruat caelum fons et origo fideicommissum

express mention of one thing excludes the other express words

fideicommissarius fideicommittens

fiduciarus flagrante delicto force majeure forum rei fructus functus officio

furtum usus

the facts that need to be proved/ the facts in dispute the facts that provide the proof (of the facta probanda) good name suicide wild animals let justice be done though the heavens should fall the source and origin a legal institution where a person transfers a benefit to a particular beneficiary subject to a provision that the benefit is to go to a further beneficiary after a time or if a condition is met fideicommissary or (final) beneficiary of a fideicommissum person who (initially) transfers a benefit to the fiduciarus (ie creator of a fideicommissum) fiduciary or (intermediate) beneficiary of a fideicommissum in the very act of committing the offence act of God the court of the country in which the subject of an action is situated fruits; what is produced by a thing (one who) having performed the functions of his office is deprived of further jurisdiction in a case unauthorised borrowing or use

G generalia specialibus no derogant specific provisions are unlikely to be subservient to generalities generalis belonging to a kind; universal; general gratis free; at no cost H habeas corpus that you have the body (a writ). See: interdictum de homine libero exhibendo (the Roman-Dutch law equivalent)

I in the same place the same; identical ignorance of the law excuses no one useful expenses luxury expenses; expenses for pleasure impossibilium nulla obligatio est there is no obligation to perform the impossible imprimatur a sanction impubes a minor under the age of puberty in abstentia in the absence of in camera in private in casu in the present case in consimili casu in a similar case inclusio unius est exclusio alterius inclusion of the one is the exclusion of another incola a citizen; inhabitant of country indicia indications; signs in curia in court in esse in being, actuality in extenso at full length in extremis in the last extremity; at the point of death ibidem (ibid; ib.) Idem (id.) ignorantia iuris non excusat impensae utiles impensae voluptuariae

infans in favourem vitae, libertatis et innocentia omnia presumuntur in flagrante delicto infra (inf.) in fraudem legis iniuria in limine in loco in loco citato (in loc. cit. /loc. cit.) in loco parentis in pari delicto potior est conditio possidentis/defendentis in pari materia in personam in propria persona in re in rem in situ in utero instanter inter inter alia inter alios

inter partes interpellatio inter se inter vivos interdictum de homine libero exhibendo


a child under the age of seven years in favour of life, liberty and innocence all possible presumptions are made in the very act below so as to evade the law injury to personal dignity; infringement of personality rights on the threshold; at the outset (of the hearing) in place; in the proper place in the place cited in the place of a parent in cases of equal/mutual fault of parties the one in possession (the defendant) is in the stronger position in an analogous case applicable to a particular person or against a particular person in her own capacity in the case of applicable against the whole world in its original position/situation in the womb; unborn child immediate between among other things between other persons; between persons who are strangers to the matter in dispute between the parties demand (of payment); placing in mora between themselves between living persons an interdict for bringing a person before the court (the Roman-Dutch equivalent of the English common law writ of habeas corpus) provisional; in the meanwhile

interpretation quae parit absurdum, non est admittenda intra intra vires in toto invecta et illata ipse dixit ipsissima verba ipso facto ipso jure iudex iudicis est ius dicere non dare ius accrescendi ius cogens

ius commune ius dispondendi ius in personam ius in rem ius possidendi ius retentionis ius tollendi iustus error K kinderbewys kustingbrief L lacuna

presumption that the legislature does not intend absurd consequences within within (its) powers the whole; entirely; altogether things the tenant has brought onto the premises he himself said it; an unsupported statement the exact/identical words by the very fact itself by the law itself; through the operation of law; legally (a) judge the role of a judge is to state or interpret the law and not to make it right of accrual peremptory norm; international law norms of such importance that no one may violate them common law the right to dispose personal right right over a thing which can be enforced against all others the right to possess the right of retention right of a lessee to remove his useful or luxury improvements reasonable or excusable mistake

a bond to secure property for children a mortgage bond

gap or deficiency

laesio enormis docrine

laesae majestatis lex commissoria

lex domicilli lex fori lex loci actus lex loci celebrationis lex loci contractus lex loci delictus lex loci rei sitae lex loci solutionis lex non scripta lex situs lis pendens litis contestatio locatio operarum loc cit (loco citato) locus locus in quo locus standi in judicio lucidum intervallum lucrum cessans

seller’s/buyer’s equitable relief against a seriously prejudicial bargain concluded in the absence of fraud or misrepresentation by the other party affront to the dignity of the head of state a forfeiture clause in a contract conferring the power to cancel on breach law of domicile law of the court in which the case is heard law of the place where the (legal) act took place law of the place where the marriage was entered into law of the place where the contract was entered into law of the place where the delict was committed law of the place where the thing is situated law of the place where the contract is to be performed the unwritten law (ie customary law) law of the place where the thing is situated an action pending close of pleadings; joining issue (in a lawsuit) a lease of services in the passage previously mentioned place the place in which the right to appear in person and be heard in her own cause lucid interval; period of sanity (of an otherwise disturbed mind) a benefit which is terminated

M magnum opus mala fides manuscripta (MSS) manuscriptum (MS) mandamus mens rea mero moto metus merx modus operandi mora mora ex re mores motu proprio mutatis mutandis mutuum a great work bad faith manuscripts manuscript we demand (a writ) criminal or wrongful intention by itself; of its own accord fear or threat goods or merchandise (movable) being sold manner of working; procedure default default arising from the contract itself manners; customs of his own accord subject to the necessary alterations [to allow for the changed circumstances] a loan for consumption; loan of fungibles (consumables)

N nasciturus naturalia unborn child/fetus things which are in the nature (of a contract); the contract terms implied by the law without force, stealth or permission necessary expenses acting on behalf of another to his good but without his knowledge or consent no one can be a judge in his own cause no one can transfer more rights to another than he himself has no one may do by (means of) another that which he may not do himself

nec vi nec clam nec precario neccessariae impensae negotiorum gestio nemo judex in causa sua nemo plus iuris ad alium transferre potest quam ipse haberet nemo potest facere per alium quod per se non potest

nihil nisi

nolens volens nolle prosequi

nomine officio (abbrev. N.O.) nominibus officii (abbrev. NNO) non est factum non seqitur noscitur a sociis

nota bene (NB) novus actus interveniens nulla bona nulla poena sine lege numerus clausus nunc pro tunc O ob turpis causam obiter dictum (pl. dicta)

nothing unless (decree nisi is a provisional order/decree to be made absolute later unless good cause is shown to the contrary) willing/consenting or not do not prosecute; formal entry on record of intent not to continue prosecution appointed official; in official capacity appointed officials; in [their] official capacity it is not his deed it does not (logically) follow it is known from its associates (ie the meaning of a word is determined from its context) note well; important intervention of a fresh act or cause no goods no punishment without a law restricted number now for then

onus onus probandi opera citandi (op cit.) P pacta sunt servanda

for an immoral purpose or from an immoral cause a statement made by the way/in passing (ie a non binding observation on a legal issue by a judge) duty; burden burden of proof the work cited

obligations must be fulfilled; promises must be kept

pactum de contrahendo pactum in favorem tertii pactum successorium

pari passu partim passim pater est quem nuptiae demonstrant paterfamilias pecunia pecunia non numerata pecunia numerata pendente lite per annum per capita per contra per curiam per diem per incuriam per mensem per se persona non grata per stirpes perduellio perfecta persona standi in iudicio peregrinus permutatio pignus plus valet quod agitur quam quod simulate concipitur post postea

an agreement to make a contract in the future an agreement in favour of a third person contract inhibiting freedom of testation by promising to bequeath/or not to bequeath property to another equally; without preference in part scattered; in various places the father is he whom the marriage points out (assumption of paternity) head of the family money money unpaid money due and paid pending the outcome of the litigation by the year for each person on the contrary in the court’s opinion by the day because of carelessness or oversight by the month by itself; taken alone an unacceptable person by stocks (ie branches of decent) treason complete; meeting all the requirements necessary (for a sale) capacity to sue or be a party to an action a foreigner (non-citizen) exchange pledge the true intention or deed counts for more than a pretended/simulated one after afterwards; at a later date

post hoc post mortem postscripta (P.SS) postscriptum (P.S) potestas pretium prima facie pro deo

pro non scripto pro bono proferens pro forma pro rata pro se pro tanto pro tempore proxy

after this; therefore; because of this after death postscripts postscript power; authority purchase price at first sight; on the face of it for God (refers to the defence at the expense of the state of an indigent accused) as not written for free/without payment the party to a contract who is the author of its wording as a matter of form in proportion self representation without legal counsel to the extent that for the time being a person authorised to do something for someone else; the authority by which one person acts on behalf of another

Q qua quaere quantum quantum meruit quasi quid pro quo qui prior est tempore potior est iure quod hoc quod vide (q.v.) as; in the capacity of questionable or doubtful quantity or amount the amount of enrichment as if something for something; consideration first in time is stronger in right to this extent which see (ie a cross reference to something/somewhere else)

R ratio decidendi finding of law producing a general legal rule that the court applies to the facts of the case (binding) as long as circumstances remain as they are reducing (a proposition) to the absurd; demonstrating by analogy that a proposition is ridiculous the queen (the crown) truth of the matter the legal remedy of an owner to vindicate his property from whoever possesses it thing things owned by a person thing belonging to another things that belong to all common to all but belonging to no one thing not owned but capable of being owned; discarded or abandoned property things done (and words spoken); the transaction stolen goods the facts speak for themselves a matter already adjudicated on disputed property ownerless property; an unowned thing let the master answer (for the servant) things belonging to the public at large things remain the same a person’s own property no one can hold a servitude over her own property the thing sold the king (the crown)

rebus sic stantibus reductio ad adsurdum

regina (R) rei veritas rei vindicatio

res res alicuius res aliena res communes res communis omnium/res omnium communes res derelicta; (pl. res derelictae)

res gestae res furtivae res ipsa loquitur res iudicata/judicata res litigiosa res nullius respondeat superior res publicae res sic stantibus res sua res sua nemini servit res vendita rex (R)

rixa rouwkoop (rougeld)

a fight; physical altercation a sum paid or forfeited in order to get rid of a bad bargain

S salva rerum substantia scilicet scintilla secundum aequum et bonum seditio semble senatus consultum (S.C.) seriatim sic si irritum sit in jure dubio et incerto simpliciter sine die sine qua non societas universorum bonorum without impairing the substance namely (in law) a spark; a trace according to what is equitable and right sedition apparently; it seems decree of the senate one after the other in order; point by point so let what has taken place by doubtful or uncertain law be invalid/void plainly, simply without day; without appointing a day for continuation of a case the cause proper a universal partnership (agreement i.t.o. which the parties agree to pool all their existing & future property) partner in crime; accomplice a way of acquisition of ownership by creating or making a thing expectation [of a future right] to stand by decided matters immediately contract for the benefit of another (third) person [during] the existence of the marriage it is best to keep to decisions and not to disturb questions; put at rest the state in which it was (or is) let it stand; not to be deleted

socius (pl. socii) criminis specificatio spes stare decisis statim (stat.) stipulatio alteri stante matrimonio stare decisis et non quieta movere status quo stet

sub judice sub nom subpoena sub rosa sub voce (s.v.) sui generis sui juris superficies solo cedit supra T terminus ad quem terminus a quo tertium quid

still pending; under consideration by a court under the name a summons for compelling a witness to attend court and give evidence privately under the specified word of its own kind or class; peculiar to in her own right; legally competent to manage one's own affairs structures erected on land (buildings) form part of that property above

terra nullius traditio traditio brevi manu

traditio longa manu turpis U uberrima fides ubi jus, ibi remedium ubique ubi supra (u.s.) ultra vires uscapio universitas

finish starting point a third something (literal); something intermediate; in argument, a common meeting ground land/territory belonging to no one delivery (of thing sold) delivery with the short hand (form of delivery where the merx already held by acquirer) delivery with the long hand (form of delivery by mere pointing out) immoral

utmost good faith there is no wrong without a remedy everywhere in the place above mentioned beyond, or in excess of, (its) powers prescription corporate body

universorum quae ex quaestu veniunt uscapio usufruct usus ut res magis valeat quam pereat

utiles impensae

uxor V vacua possessio verba fortius accipiuntur contra proferentem verbatim verbi gratia (vg) versus vexata quaestio via media vice versa vide videlicet (vi) vide ut supra vi et armis vinculum iuris virilis defensio vis compulsiva

a partnership where the parties agree to pool all property acquired during the term of the partnership prescription (a method of property acquisition by mere possession) usufruct (the right of the use and enjoyment of property not one’s own) use words must be construed so as to support the validity rather than negating it useful expenditures on property which increase its market value but which are not essential for its preservation wife

free, unburdened possession ambiguous wording is construed against the party who introduc ed it or who drew up the document word for word; in exactly the same words for example against a disputed question middle way conversely; the terms being changed around see that is to say; namely see what is stated above with force and arms; by force of arms a legal tie spirited defence; proper and competent defence compulsive force

vis maior/major voetstoots

volenti non fit iniuria

volte face

irresistible force; act of God as it stands, with all its faults; used in a sale to exclude liability for latent defects that to which one consents cannot be considered an injury; what is done with consent is not unlawful a change of front; an about-turn

For more comprehensive listings see: Claassen - Dictionary of legal words and phrases 2nd ed. (DHR 340.03 CLAA) – Available on-line via LexisNexis Butterworths Hiemstra and Gonin (eds) - Trilingual legal dictionary 3rd ed.(DHR 340.03 HIEM)
UCT Law Library You may copy this glossary for non-commercial purposes, but must attribute the authorship of the UCT Law Library.

November 2007

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