Latin phrases have been used in law for centuries. Latin was once the language of the Roman Empire, and as the legal system evolved, many Latin phrases became ingrained in legal terminology. While most legal terms have been translated into English, Latin phrases remain in use, adding a touch of tradition and formality to legal documents and proceedings. In this blog post, we will explore some of the most common Latin phrases used in law.
- Habeas Corpus: Perhaps the most well-known Latin phrase in law, habeas corpus means “you shall have the body.” It is a legal action that allows an individual who is being detained or imprisoned to challenge the legality of their detention. This principle is fundamental to the protection of individual rights and is enshrined in many constitutions around the world.
- Res Ipsa Loquitur: This phrase means “the thing speaks for itself.” It is used in cases where the facts of a situation are so clear that they do not require additional explanation. For example, if a patient wakes up from surgery with a surgical instrument left inside their body, it may be said that res ipsa loquitur applies because the object speaks for itself.
- Caveat emptor: This phrase means “let the buyer beware.” It is a warning to buyers that they are responsible for ensuring that the goods or services they purchase are of good quality and fit for purpose. It is often used in cases where a buyer has purchased a defective product.
- Nullum Gratuitum Prandium: This Latin phrase translates into one of our absolute truths about the practice of law, and it literally means: “There Is No Free Lunch.” If you’re getting your legal advice from the internet, unfortunately, there is a very good chance that your “free advice” is outdated, doesn’t apply, or in many cases…just flat-out wrong.
In conclusion, Latin phrases have been used in law for centuries and are still prevalent today. While lawyers obviously don’t speak Latin regularly, we still use these common Latin phrases in court, or in our writings, to make our arguments.
As always, if you have any questions about buying or selling a business, or business law generally, please don’t hesitate to contact us!