Common Latin Terms

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Saturday, April 5, 2014

LAW students memorize legal terms couched in Latin. They want to impress upon the listeners that they know their law. An ordinary person should have a working knowledge and understand the meaning of some terms.

IGNORANTIA LEGIS EXCUSAT NEMINEM – means ignorance of the law excuses no one. If lack of knowledge is a defense, no one can be held liable.

SALUS POPULI EST SUPREMA LEX – the welfare of the people is the first law. This is an important concept in Constitutional law where the welfare of the people is the first priority of government.


IN FLAGRANTE DELICTO – caught in the act of committing an offense. Kitang-kita na binaril ang biktima.

IN LOCO PARENTIS – refers to liability of teachers and heads of establishments for damages, caused by their students or apprentices, in their custody. The teachers incur civil liability for damages done by students in their class.

RES IPSA LOQUITOR – the thing speaks for itself. If the accident does not happen in the ordinary cause of things, such accident arose because defendant is negligent.

RES JUDICATA – a thing already decided by judgment. There is a point of termination. If there is a final judgment, there can be no case based on same parties and issues. Pag hindi, wala ng katapusan ang asunto.

CORPUS DELICTI (Proof) – the introduction of sufficient evidence that a crime was committed like a cadaver in homicide cases.

ESPRESSIO UNIUS EST EXCLUSIO ALTERIUS – the expressed mention of a person, thing or condition means the exclusion of all others. What is not included is deemed excluded.

IN PARI DELICTO – when the parties are equally wrong, the court will leave them as they are.

AD HOC – simply means “for this purpose”.
Ad Hoc committee is created for the purpose of the town fiesta.

ARGUMENTATION AD HOMINEM – an argument that does not address the issue, but attacks person.

Senators Enrile and Santiago engaged in Argumentation Ad Hominem.

BONA FIDE – refers to good faith, sincerity, true.
He is a bona fide member of the Society of Jesus.

CAVEAT EMPTOR – Purchases, beware!
It is the responsibility of the buyer to be vigilant of the quality of goods he is to purchase.

INTERIM – means in the meanwhile or temporary.
He was elected interim Presiding Officer.

MALA PROHIBITA – crimes committed even without significance to the motive or intent like issuing a bounced check or possession of an unlicensed firearm.

AB INITIO – from the beginning
The marriage of two men is void ab initio in the Philippines.

TERRA FIRMA – is solid ground.
He is a forceful speaker as his arguments are based on terra firma.

One last thing –

I-CE CRE-AM FOR SA-LE HE-RE – this is no longer Latin. It plainly means binebenta ang sorbets dito.


Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on April 06, 2014.


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