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Ars Latina - Alive and well!

Updated on January 22, 2016

Commonly Used Court Terms

Latin is an important language I always dread facing during school exams. Studying the conjugations is difficult. More so when it is mixed with Spanish, English and Greek language courses if you were born with parents speaking two major Philippine dialects - Visayan or Tagalog.

After many years, I have come to realize how lucky I was to study this language, although I must admit I can hardly speak it fluently without any practice. Critics call it a dead language. But the Latin language has survived even with the collapse of the once mighty Roman Empire. Come to think of it, Latin is the root word of many languages. Indeed, 'Ars Latina' is alive and well in the medical, as well as legal fields, Roman Catholic liturgies, encyclicals and in the august halls of many courts of justice.

Here are a sampling of some important legal terms one may read and hear in open court, in legal arguments, motions, appeals, trials, indictments and summary convictions.

Nunc pro tunc– Now for then

Obiter – In passing

In futuro – In the future

Inter Alia – Among other things

Ipso Facto – By the mere fact

Laches – Negligence/unreasonable delay

Mandamus – We command

Mesne – Intermediate

Mutatis Mutandis – The needed changes made

Nisi – Unless

Nisi Prius – Unless before

Nolle Prosequi – Not willing to prosecute

Non compos mentis – Not of sound mind

Prima facie – On the face

Quantum Meruit – As much as one earned

Quasi – As if

Quid Pro Quo – Something for something

Res Ipsa loquitor – The thing speaks for itself

Res Judicata – Thing adjudicated

Sine die – Without a day

Talesman – Person called up from bystanders to be juror

Tortfeasor – One who commits a tort

Viva voce – Live voice

Voire Dire – A trial within a trial

Oyer et terminer– To hear and decide

Persona designata – Designated person

Pendente lite – While litigation is pending

Precept – Direction, order

Presentempt – A type of report given by a jury

Ab Initio – From the beginning

Ad Hoc – For the particular purpose

Ad Litem – For a suit/purposes of a suit

Autrefois Acquit – Formerly Acquitted

Autrefois Convict – Formerly convicted

Bona Fide - In Good faith

De Novo – Fresh/New

Duces Tecum – Bring with you

Ex Officio – By virtue of one’s office

Ex Parte – On behalf of

Fee Simple – The most expensive form of freehold estate possible

Fieri Facias – That you cause to be made

In Camera - Court session close to the public (session involving only judge and litigants)

General Gaol Delivery – Commission given to judges to try every prisoner

Habeas Corpus – that you have the body.


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  • MercuryNewsOnline profile image

    MercuryNewsOnline 2 years ago from Toronto, Canada

    You are welcome Immartin. How's your book?

  • MercuryNewsOnline profile image

    MercuryNewsOnline 7 years ago from Toronto, Canada

    Same here in Toronto. Climate Change is upon us. Everything will change, nothing stays the same...Enjoy the moment.

  • lmmartin profile image

    lmmartin 7 years ago from Alberta and Florida

    Chilly. We actually had frost -- brrrr!

  • MercuryNewsOnline profile image

    MercuryNewsOnline 7 years ago from Toronto, Canada

    You're most welcome Immartin. Happy New Year.How's the Florida weather?

  • lmmartin profile image

    lmmartin 7 years ago from Alberta and Florida

    Thanks for the useful information.