A law dictionary adapted to the Constitution and laws of the United States of America, and of the several states of the American union
with references to the civil and other systems of foreign law, Volume 2

~John Bouvier 1856


  1. An established principle or proposition. A principle of law universally admitted, as being just and consonant with reason.
  2. Maxims in law are somewhat like axioms in geometry. 1 Bl. Com. 68. They are principles and authorities, and part of the general customs or common law of the land; and are of the same strength as acts of parliament, when the judges have determined what is a maxim; which belongs to the judges and not the jury. Terms do Ley; Doct. & Stud. Dial. 1, c. 8. Maxims of the law are holden for law, and all other cases that may be applied to them shall be taken for granted. 1 Inst. 11. 67; 4 Rep. See 1 Com. c. 68; Plowd. 27, b.
  3. The application of the maxim to the case before the court, is generally the only difficulty. The true method of making the application is to ascertain bow the maxim arose, and to consider whether the case to which it is applied is of the same character, or whether it is an exception to an apparently general rule.
  4. The alterations of any of the maxims of the common law are dangerous. 2 Inst. 210.

*The following are some important maxims to know*

~Aequum et bonum, est lex legum. What is good and equal, is the law of laws. Hob. 224.

~Caveat emptor. Let the purchaser beware.

~Consensus facit legemConsent makes the law. A contract is a law between the parties, which can acquire force only by consent.

~Contr veritatem lex numquam aliquid permittit. The law never suffers anything contrary to truth. 2 Co. Inst. 252. But sometimes it allows a conclusive presumption in opposition to truth. See 3 Bouv. Inst. n. 3061. 

~Contractus legem ex conventione accipiunt. The agreement of the parties makes the law of the contract. Dig. 16, 3, 1, 6.

~Contractus ex turpi caus, vel contr bonos mores nullus est. A contract founded on a base and unlawful consideration, or against good morals, is null. Hob. 167; Dig. 2, 14, 27, 4. 

~Cujusque rei potissima pars principium est. The principal part of everything is the beginning. Dig. 1, 2, 1; 10 Co. 49.

~Derativa potestas non potest esse major primitiva. The power which is derived cannot be greater than that from which it is derived.

~Derogatur legi, cum pars detrahitur; abrogatur legi, cum prorsus tollitur. To derogate from a law is to enact something contrary to it; to abrogate a law, is to abolish it entirely. Dig. 50, 16, 102. See 1 Bouv. Inst. n. 91.

~Domus sua cuique est tutissimum refugium. Every man’s house is his castle.

~Equity looks upon that as done, which ought to be done. 4 Bouv. Inst. n. 3729; 1 Fonbl. Eq. b. 1, ch. 6, s. 9, note; 3 Wheat. 563.

~Ex dolo malo non oritur action. Out of fraud no action arises. Cowper, 343; Broom’s Max. 349.

~Ex malificio non oritur contractus. A contract cannot arise out of an act radically wrong and illegal. Broom’s Max. 851.

~Ex nudo pacto non oritur action. No actions arises on a naked contract without a consideration. See Nudum Pactum.

~Ex turpi causa non oritur action. No action arises out of an immoral consideration.

~Ex turpi contractu non oritur actio. No action arises on an immoral contract.

~Expressio unius est exclusio alterius. The expression of one thing is the exclusion of another.

~Extra territorium jus dicenti non paretur impune. One who exercises jurisdiction out of his territory is not obeyed with impunity.

~Facta sunt potentiora verbis. Facts are more powerful than words.

~Factum judice quod ad ujus officium non spectat, non ratum est. An act of a judge which does not relate to his office, is of no force. 10 Co. 76.

~Facultas probationum non est angustanda. The faculty or right of offering proof is not to be narrowed. 4 Co. Inst. 279.

~Flumina et protus publica sunt, ideoque jus piscandi omnibus commune est. Rivers and ports are public, therefore the right of fishing there is common to all.

~Forma legalis forma essentialis. Legal form is essential form. 10 Co. 100.

~Forma non observata, inferiur adnullatio actus. When form is not observed a nullity of the act is inferred. 12 Co. 7.

~Fraus est celare fraudem. It is a fraud to conceal a fraud. 1 Vern. 270.

~Fraus et dolus nemini patrocianari debent. Fraud and deceit should excuse no man. 3 Co. 78.

~Haeredem Deus facit, non homo. God and not man, make the heir.

~Haeredem est nomen collectivum. Heir is a collective name.

~Haeris est nomen juris, filius est nomen naturae. Heir is a term of law, son one of nature.

~Haeres est alter ispe, et filius est pars patris. An heir is another self, and a son is a part of the father.

~Hominum caus jus constitutum est. Law is established for the benefit of man.

~Ignorantia excusatur, non juris sed facti. Ignorance of fact may excuse, but not ignorance of law.

~Ignorantia legis neminem excusat. Ignorance of fact may excuse, but not ignorance of law. 4 Bouv. Inst. n. 3828.

~Ignorantia facti excusat, ignorantia juris non excusat. Ignorance of facts excuses, ignorance of law does not excuse. 1 Co. 177; 4 Bouv. Inst. n 3828. See Ignorance.

~Ignorantia judicis est calamitas innocentis. The ignorance of the judge is the misforture of the innocent. 2 Co.

~In aequali jure melior est conditio possidentis. When the parties have equal rights, the condition of the possessor is the better. Mitf. Eq. Pl. 215; Jer. Eq. Jur. 285; 1 Madd. Ch. Pr. 170; Dig. 50, 17, 128. Plowd. 296.

~n conventibus contrahensium voluntatem potius quam verba spectari placuit. In the agreements of the contracting parties, the rule is to regard the intention rather than the words. Dig. 50, 16, 219.

~In fictione juris, semper subsistit aequitas. In a fiction of law, equity always subsists. 11 Co. 51.

~In judicio non creditur nisi juratis. In law none is credited unless he is sworn. All the facts must when established, by witnesses, be under oath or affirmation. Cro. Car. 64.

~In praesentia majoris potestatis, minor potestas cessat. In the presence of the superior power, the minor power ceases. Jenk. Cent. 214.

~In pari causa possessor potior haberi debet. When two parties have equal rights, the advantage is always in favor of the possessor. Dig. 50, 17, 128.

~In pari delicto melior est conditio possidentis. When the parties are equally in the wrong, the condition of the possessor is better. 11 Wheat. 258; 3 Cranch 244; Cowp. 341; Broom’s Max. 325; 4 Bouv. Inst. n. 3724.

~Iniquum est ingenuis hominibus non esse liberam rerum suarum alienationem. It is against equity to deprive freeman of the free disposal of their own property. Co. Litt. 223. See 1 Bouv. Inst. n. 455, 460.

~Invito beneficium non datur. No one is obliged to accept a benefit against his consent. Dig. 50, 17, 69. But if he does not dissent he will be considered as assenting. Vide Assent.

~Ipsae legis cupiunt ut jure regantur. The laws themselves require that they should be governed by right. Co. Litt. 174.

~Judex ante occulos aequitatem semper habere debet. A judge ought always to have equity before his eyes. Jenk. Cent. 58.

~Judex aeuitatem semper spectare debet. A judge ought always to regard equity. Jenk. Cent. 45.

~Judex bonus nihil ex arbitrio suo faciat, nec propositione domesticae voluntatis, sed juxta legis et jura pronunciet. A good judge should do nothing from his own judgment, or from the dictates of his private wishes; but he should pronounce according to law and justice. 7 co. 27.

~Judex debet judicare secundum allegata et probata. The judge ought to decide according to the allegation and the proof.

~Judici officium suum excedenti non paretur. To a judge who exceeds his office or jurisdiction no obedience is due. Jenk. Cent. 139.

*NOTICE* This is NOT legal advice or to be construed as legal advice. This is a blog merely an opinion on topics such as Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.