Scots law

def:  jargon buster

legal terms in Scots law

 other legal dictionaries








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ab initio: from the beginning

actus reus: a guilty deed or act

ad infinitum: forever

ad litem: appointed for a legal action

ad personam: personal

ad rem: to the point; to the purpose

altius non tollendi: a servitude preventing the servient owner from building beyond a certain height on his own ground

ante: before

apud acta: at the time of the proceedings

avizandum: the time during which the court considers its judgment



beneficium: a privilege, benefit, or right

bona fide: sincerely

bona fides: good faith



ceteris paribus: other things being equal

circa: approximately

consensus: agreement

conductio indebiti: an action for repayment of money paid in error

consensu: unanimously or, by general consent

consensus ad idem: agreement as to the same things

contra: against; to the contrary

contra bonos mores: contrary to good morals

corpus: body

corpus delicti: body of offence



damnum: damage, loss

damnum fatale: a loss due to an ‘act of God’ e.g. a storm or a flood

de die in diem: from day to day

de facto: in fact

de futuro: in the future

de jure or de iure: by law, rightful

de integro: as regards the whole

de lege ferenda: according to the law as it ought to be

de lege lata: according to the current law

de legibus: of law

de minimis (de minimis non curat lex): trivial (the law is not concerned with trivial matters)

dictum (pl. dicta):  a judicial observation (often made during a judgment) – an observation ‘obiter dictum’ cannot be binding (cf. the ‘ratio’ of a judgment)

doli incapax: incapable of crime

dominium: ownership



esto: suppose it to be so (used to plead an alternative set of circumstances in a claim)

ex concessis: in view of what has already been accepted

ex gratia: freely; without a legal obligation

ex officio: by virtue of one's office

ex parte: for proceedings, when the party against whom they are brought is not heard

ex posto facto: after the event



faciendum: something which is to be done

factum: an act or deed



hinc inde: on the one hand and on the other



ibid: at the same place (used in footnotes for work already cited previously)

ignorantia juris neminem excusat: no-one is excused by ignorance of the law

in camera: in private

in causa: in the cause or case of

in dubio: on a doubtful point

in esse: in existence

in extenso: at full length

in hoc statu: in this state of matters; at this stage of the proceedings

injuria: wrongful act; injustice (also iniuria)

in loco parentis: in place of the parent

in modo probationis: in the way of proof

in omnibus: in every respect

in pleno: in full

in rem suam: to one's own advantage

in situ: in its place

in solidum: for the whole sum

inter alia: among other things

inter amicos: between friends

interlocutor: a decision or order or the court (as opposed to the final judgment or decree)

in terrorem: as a warning or deterrent

inter vivos: between living persons

in toto: in total, in full

ipsissima verba: the very words of a speaker

ipso facto: by that very fact; thereby

ius: right recognised by law (also jus)

ius ad rem: right to a thing (personal right) (jus ad rem)

ius in personam: personal right (also jus in personam)

ius in rem: right in a thing (real right) (also jus in rem)

ius naturale: natural justice (alsojus naturale)

ius quaesitum tertio: right acquired by a third party (in a contract between others) (also jus quaesitum tertio)



jus: right recognised by law (also ius)

jus ad rem: right to a thing (personal right) (ius ad rem)

jus in personam: personal right (also ius in personam)

jus in rem: right in a thing (real right) (also ius in rem)

jus naturale: natural justice (also ius naturale)

jus quaesitum tertio: right acquired by a third party (in a contract between others) (also ius quaesitum tertio)



labes realis: an inherent taint or defect in a title to property (also known as vitium reale)

leonina societa: a partnership in which one of the partners take all the gains, whereas the other bears all the losses

lex: law (often written law)

lex loci contractus: the law of a place where a contract was made; according to private international law it is the proper law by which to resolve disputes about a contract

locus: place; the spot where an important event for the matter in hand has taken place

locus in quo: scene of the event

locus standi: the right to be heard before a tribunal



mala fides: bad faith; used in phrase "mala fide possessor" which refers to one who possesses property upon a title which he knows or should know to be invalid

male appretiata: for the property of a deceased person, to be wrongly valued

medium concludendi: a ground of action

mens rea: intention or thought

modus: the narration of the facts and circumstances in a criminal charge

modus operandi: way of doing something

mora: the delay in asserting a claim, which, when coupled with prejudice to the defender, may prevent the pursuer from recovering

mortis causa: on account of death

mutatis mutandis: exactly the same



negotiorum gestor: a person that in an emergency steps in and acts for another who cannot act for himself, e.g. due to absence (the relevant process is called negotiorum gestio)

nemo dat quod non habet: one can give a better title than the one he has

nexus: connection

nisi: unless

non compos mentis: not of sound mind and understanding

non sequitur: an inconsistent statement, it does not follow

non valens agere: the unfitness of a person to act by reason of minority



obiter dictum: of judicial statements, not essential to the decision of the case and therefore without binding authority (pl. obiter dicta)

occupatio: a mode of acquiring property by appropriating a thing

onus probandi: burden of proof

ope et concilio: by help and counsel (a synonym for "art and part")

ope exceptionis: as a defence; by way of exception



pacta sunt servanda: agreements must be followed

pactum: agreement

pactum illicitum: unlawful contract

par delictum: equal fault

pari passu: equally

particeps criminis: accomplice

penuria testium: lack of witnesses

per curiam: in the opinion of the court

per minas: by means of menaces or threats

per quod: by reason of which

per se: by itself

post: after; later

post mortem: after death

pretium affectionis: a price or value placed upon a thing owing to its owner's attachment to it

prima facie: at first sight; on the face of it

prima impressionis: on first impression

probabilis causa litigandi: substantial grounds for commencing legal action

probatio probata: a fact given in evidence which may not be contradicted

pro hac vice: for this occasion

pro rata: in proportion

pro re nata: as the occasion arises

pro tanto: so far, to that extent

pro tempore: for the time being

publici juris: of public right (also of publici iuris)



quaere: consider whether it is correct

quaeritur: the question is raised

quantum: how much, an amount

quid juris: what is the law? (also quid iuris) (used often in exam questions)

quid pro quo: consideration. something for something



ratio decidendi: the rule for which a stand as authority

re: in the matter of

res: thing; the object of an action; matter, affair

res communes: things in their nature incapable of appropriation, such as light and air

res gestae: the circumstances of a case

res iudicata: a question decided by competent legal proceedings, which cannot again be raised (also res judicata)

res noviter veniens ad notitiam: information newly discovered, sometimes justifying the admission of new matter in a case, or a new trial

res nullius: a thing which never had an owner or which had, but lost its owner

res publicae: things in which the property resides in the state alone, like navigable rivers and highways

restitutio in integrum: restoration to the original position or condition

res universitatis: things belonging to a corporation, whose use is common to the members



sciens: knowingly

secus: the legal position is different

se defendendo: in self defence

sine die: indefinitely

sine qua non: an indispensable condition

socius criminis: accomplice in crime

solatium: damages given by way of reparation for injury to feelings

status quo: the existing state of affairs

sub modo: within limits

sub nomine: under the name of

sub silentio: in silence

suggestio falsi: the suggestion of something which is untrue

sui generis: unique

supra: above; earlier

suppressio veri: the suppression of the truth



talis qualis: such as it is

tertius: third party



uberrima fides: the utmost good faith

ultimum refugium: last resort

ultimus haeres: last heir; the Crown inherits as last heir for want of other


uno flatu: at the same moment; with one breath



verbatim: word by word; exactly

veritas: truth

vide: see

vis et metus: force and fear

vitium reale: An inherent taint or defect in a title to property (also known as labes realis)

volens: willing