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Important Legal Maxims For CLAT 2024

Author : Shashwat Srivastava

Updated On : June 3, 2023


Summary: Are you preparing for CLAT 2024 & wondering what legal maxims you should know? Look no further! In this blog, we'll explore the important legal maxims for CLAT that can enhance your score. 

The Legal Reasoning section of the CLAT often includes legal maxims. Legal maxims are short and authoritative statements representing legal principles and guiding legal decision-making. 

In exams like the CLAT and other Law Entrance Tests, legal maxims are used to test the understanding of aspiring lawyers. They provide a passage where you must interpret a specific maxim's meaning. 

When preparing for these exams, being familiar with common legal maxims is really helpful. You don't need to memorize them since the exam doesn't expect you to have outside knowledge. However, being aware of these maxims and other legal topics will help you apply the principles and maxims to real-life scenarios.

The CLAT 2024 exam will test your knowledge and comprehension of important legal maxims.  We have provided a comprehensive list of important legal maxims for CLAT in a downloadable PDF format. You can find it below.

Latest News - Do you know that the Consortium of National Law Universities has declared the CLAT 2024 Exam Date? To know the date, click here. Stay tuned for further updates!

What are Legal Maxims and why are they important for CLAT exam?

A legal maxim refers to a well-established legal idea, proposal, or doctrine that is often expressed in Latin. These Latin maxims primarily originated during the Medieval era in European states that used Latin as their official language.

  • These principles play a significant role in helping courts worldwide apply current laws in a fair and just manner, allowing them to settle disputes that come before them.
  • Although these principles don't have legal authority on their own, when courts use them to make legal decisions or when legislatures adopt them in creating laws, they become legally binding and form the basis for making sound judgments.
  • Legal maxims play a significant role in legal education and practice, and their understanding is essential for success in the CLAT exam and in the field of law.

To help you become familiar with these principles, this blog provides some legal maxims that are important for the CLAT 2024 exam. You can make your CLAT preparation more effective with a PDF download below that includes 100 important legal maxims specifically tailored for the exam.

Important Legal Maxims and Phrases for CLAT 2024

Here is a short list of the top 50 legal maxims and phrases for the CLAT examination. Go through the Legal maxims for CLAT 2024 from the post below. To access a PDF that includes more significant legal maxims for CLAT, you can find the link at the end of this short list.

1. Ab Initio - From the beginning.
   Explanation: This means that something is valid or applicable from the very start or the beginning.

2. Actionable per se - The very act is punishable, and no proof of damage is required.
   Explanation: This refers to an action or behavior that is inherently wrong or punishable without needing to prove any specific harm or damage caused.

3. Actio personalis moritur cum persona - A personal right of action dies with the person.
   Explanation: When a person passes away, any personal legal rights they had also cease to exist.

4. Actori incumbit onus probandi - The burden of proof is on the plaintiff.
   Explanation: In a legal case, the responsibility to provide evidence and prove their case lies with the person who initiates the lawsuit (plaintiff).

5. Actus Reus Non Facit Reum Nisi Mens Sit Rea - Conviction of a crime requires proof of a criminal act and intent.
   Explanation: To be found guilty of a crime, it is necessary to prove both that a wrongful act was committed (actus reus) and that there was a criminal intention or guilty mind (mens rea).

6. Ad hoc - For the particular end or case at hand.
   Explanation: Something done or created specifically for a particular purpose or situation.

7. Alibi - At another place, elsewhere.
   Explanation: The claim or evidence that someone was in a different location at the time a crime was committed, providing them with an alibi or an alternative explanation.

8. Amicus Curiae - A friend of the court or member of the Bar who is appointed to assist the Court.
   Explanation: An individual or organization who is not directly involved in a case but offers their expertise or opinion to the court to provide additional guidance.

9. Ante Litem Motam - Before a suit is brought or before controversy arises.
   Explanation: Actions or events that occur before a lawsuit is filed or before a dispute arises.

10. Assentio mentium - The meeting of minds, mutual assents.
    Explanation: When two or more parties have a shared understanding or agreement on a particular matter.

11. Audi alteram partem - No man shall be condemned unheard.
    Explanation: The principle that everyone has the right to present their side of the story and be heard before any judgment or condemnation is passed.

12. Bona fide - In good faith.
    Explanation: Acting or behaving sincerely, honestly, and without deceit or ill-intention.

13. Bona vacantia - Goods without an owner.
    Explanation: Refers to unclaimed property or assets that have no rightful owner.

14. Boni judicis est ampliare jurisdictionem - It is the part of a good judge to enlarge their jurisdiction.
    Explanation: A competent judge has the authority and responsibility to interpret and apply the law broadly to ensure justice.

15. Caveat - A caution registered with the public court to indicate that they are not to act in a matter without giving prior notice to the caveator.
    Explanation: A notice or warning registered with the court to prevent any action or decision without notifying the party who issued the caveat.

16. Caveat actor - Let the doer beware.
    Explanation: A warning to the person taking action or initiating a legal process to be cautious and aware of the consequences or potential risks involved.

17. Caveat emptor - Let the buyer beware.
    Explanation: The principle that places the responsibility on the buyer to be cautious and diligent when making a purchase, as they are responsible for evaluating the quality and suitability of the goods or services.

18. Caveat venditor - Let the seller beware.
    Explanation: The principle that places the responsibility on the seller to be cautious and honest when selling a product, as they may be held accountable for any defects or misrepresentations.

19. Certiorari - A writ used to quash orders passed by an inferior court.
    Explanation: A legal writ that allows a higher court to review and potentially overturn the decision of a lower court.

20. Corpus - Body.
    Explanation: Refers to the physical body of a person, often used in legal contexts such as "habeas corpus" (the right to challenge unlawful detention).

21. Corpus delicti - The facts and circumstances constituting a crime and concrete evidence of a crime, such as a corpse (dead body).
    Explanation: In criminal law, it refers to the concrete evidence or material elements that prove a crime has been committed.

22. Damnum sine injuria - Damage without injury.
    Explanation: Refers to a situation where harm or damage occurs without any legal injury, meaning that there is no violation of a legal right.

23. De facto - In fact.
    Explanation: Describes a situation that exists or is true in practice, even if it may not be legally recognized or formally established.

24. De jure - By law.
    Explanation: Something that is recognized or established by law.

25. De minimis - About minimal things.
    Explanation: Refers to matters or issues that are so insignificant or minimal that they are not considered worthy of attention or legal action.

26. De Minimis Non Curat Lex - The law does not govern trifles or ignores insignificant details.
    Explanation: It is a legal principle stating that the law does not concern itself with minor or trivial matters.

27. De novo - To make something anew.
    Explanation: Refers to starting afresh or from the beginning.

28. Dictum - Statement of law made by a judge in the course of the decision but not necessary to the decision itself.
    Explanation: A statement or remark made by a judge in a court decision that is not directly relevant or necessary to the outcome of the case.

29. Doli incapax - Incapable of crime.
    Explanation: Refers to the presumption that a person below a certain age (usually a child) is incapable of committing a crime due to lack of understanding or criminal intent.

30. Detinue - The tort of wrongfully holding goods that belong to someone else.
    Explanation: Refers to the wrongful act of retaining or refusing to return someone else's property or goods.

31. Donatio mortis causa - A gift because of death.
    Explanation: Refers to a gift that is given in anticipation of the donor's imminent death and is only delivered upon the donor's death.

32. Estoppel - Prevented from denying.
    Explanation: A legal doctrine that prevents a person from denying or contradicting a previous statement or position they have taken.

33. Ex gratia - As a favor.
    Explanation: Something done or given voluntarily, out of kindness or goodwill, without any legal obligation.

34. Ex officio - By virtue of the office held.
    Explanation: By the authority or power granted to someone because of the position or office they hold.

35. Ex parte - Proceedings in the absence of the other party.
    Explanation: Legal proceedings or actions that take place without the presence or participation of the opposing party.

36. Ex post facto - After the fact or retroactively.
    Explanation: Refers to a law or action that is applied retroactively, affecting events or actions that occurred before the law was enacted.

37. Fatum - Beyond human foresight.
    Explanation: Something that is beyond human prediction or anticipation, often referring to unforeseen or uncontrollable events or circumstances.

38. Factum probans - Relevant fact.
    Explanation: A fact or evidence that is significant or relevant in establishing a claim or proving a case.

39. Fraus est celare fraudem - It is a fraud to conceal a fraud.
    Explanation: Refers to the principle that intentionally concealing or hiding fraudulent activities is itself considered a fraudulent act.

40. Functus officio - No longer having power or jurisdiction.
    Explanation: Describes a person or entity that no longer holds the authority or jurisdiction to act in a particular capacity.

41. Furiosi nulla voluntas est - Mentally impaired or mentally incapable persons cannot validly sign a will, contract, or form the necessary intent to commit a crime.
    Explanation: States that individuals with mental impairments or incapacity lack the legal capacity to make valid decisions, such as signing legal documents or forming the intent required for criminal liability.

42. Habeas corpus - A writ used to bring a person before a judge to ensure their lawful detention.
    Explanation: A legal writ that allows individuals to challenge the lawfulness of their detention or imprisonment.

43. Ignorantia juris non-excusat - Ignorance of the law excuses no one.
    Explanation: The principle that not knowing or being unaware of a law does not absolve an individual from legal responsibility or liability for violating that law.

44. Injuria sine damno - Injury without damage.
    Explanation: Refers to a situation where there is an infringement of a legal right or interest without any actual or significant harm or damage.

45. Ipso facto - By the mere fact itself.
    Explanation: Something that automatically or inherently follows or results from a particular fact or action.

46. In promptu - In readiness.
    Explanation: Refers to being prepared or ready for something.

47. In lieu of - Instead of.
    Explanation: In place of or as a substitute for something else.

48. In personam - A legal proceeding directed against a specific individual.
    Explanation: Refers to a legal action or proceeding that is targeted or directed specifically against a particular individual to establish personal rights or obligations.

49. Innuendo - Spoken words that are defamatory because they have a double meaning.
    Explanation: Refers to a statement or remark that implies a defamatory meaning or intention through indirect or veiled language.

50. In status quo - In the current state or condition.
    Explanation: Describes the existing or current state of affairs or circumstances.

Important legal maxims for CLAT pdf download

To further enhance your preparation for the CLAT 2024 exam, we recommend downloading our PDF that contains 100 important legal maxims. This comprehensive resource will help you strengthen your understanding of these principles and their application.

Simply click the link below to access the PDF.

LegalEdge CLAT Toppers

LegalEdge CLAT Toppers

Sample Legal Maxims Questions for CLAT 2024

Here is the list of Legal Maxims questions picked from previous year's CLAT Sample Papers.

By solving these questions, you can know the difficulty level of the exam and which type of legal maxims can be asked in the exam.

Q1. What is meant by Consensus ad idem?

  1. Disagreement of Minds
  2. No contract between parties
  3. Void agreement
  4. The meeting of minds

Q2. What is Meant by Ubberrima fides?

  1. Malafide Action
  2. Wrongful confinement
  3. Vicious injury
  4. Utmost good faith

Q3. What do you mean by Nudum Pactum?

  1. Illegal object
  2. Contract formed on alien barren land
  3. A gratuitous or bare promise, devoid of any consideration
  4. Malafide Practice 

Q4. What is meant by Quid pro quo?

  1. Nothing for nothing
  2. Cheap bargain
  3. Ilegal agreement
  4. Something for something/ consideration

Q5. What is meant by doctrine of restitution?

  1. Law doctrine gains based on recovery
  2. Law doctrine which allows recovery based on unjust enrichment
  3. Law doctrine which allows mercy petitions
  4. Law doctrine based on death penalty

Q6. What is meant by the Doctrine of Implied term?

  1. The practice of setting down default rules for contracts
  2. The practice of setting down new rules for contracts
  3. The practice of setting down void rules of the contract
  4. The practice of setting down rules for foreign nationals

Q7. What is Doctrine of Subrogation?

  1. Substitution of one person or group by another group
  2. Hereditary rights of a party
  3. Malevolence claims of the party
  4. Claims of Pension rights of the party

Q8. What is meant by Pari delicto?

  1. Equal loss
  2. Equal gain
  3. Equal fault
  4. Equal respect 

Check out Short tricks to crack the CLAT exam on the first attempt

Q9. What is meant by Doctrine of supervening impossibility?

  1. The doctrine applies when Contract is impossible to perform from the start
  2. The doctrine of Illegal contracts
  3. The doctrine of Void Contracts
  4. Doctrine when Contract becomes Impossible to perform

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LegalEdge CLAT Coaching

Q10. What is meant by doctrine of Quantum meruit?

  1. Compensation for work is inadequate.
  2. Reasonable some of money in a contract where the price was not fixed.
  3. Unreasonable compensation.
  4. No compensation for work.

Important Legal maxims for CLAT 2024

The following are some of the important legal maxims for the Common Law Admission Test. Practicing these maxims daily will help enhance your CLAT Exam Preparation and score well in the legal reasoning section.

Q1. What is meant by "doli incapax"?

  1. Incapable of crime
  2. A new judgment
  3. New bye-law
  4. A good decision 

Q2. What is meant by per incuriam?

  1. To bind all other courts
  2. To stand by what has gone before
  3. A case settled with a lack of care so the decision is wrong
  4. A case decided on facts alone as no law exists in the area 

Check out the top important legal maxims pdf

Q3. The doctrine of "stare decisis" underpins the common law system. What is "stare decisis"?

  1. Courts must adhere to statutes in all of their decisions
  2. The reasoning behind the decision
  3. To stand by what has gone before
  4. Parliament can overturn decided cases 

Q4. What does the "sine qua non" rule, in terms of causation, mean?

  1. Causation does not apply to some crimes
  2. Necessary Legal causation
  3. The "but for" rule, or factual causation
  4. Effect of the act

LegalEdge CLAT Mocks

LegalEdge CLAT Mocks

Q5. What is meant by "Ex turpi causa non oritur actio"?

  1. The victim of a crime has a right to sue the perpetrator in tort.
  2. A person cannot pursue a cause of action if it arises out of his own guilty act.
  3. A person cannot be guilty if he has no reason to commit the crime.
  4. Friends who commit crimes together cannot be tried together.


This list of maxims and a multiple choice quiz on them must have added to your legal knowledge and will surely help if legal maxims do get tested, owing to the familiarity you now have with them.

Here are the key takeaways:

  • Legal maxims are important to understand and use correctly because they form the core of the law and have played a significant role in its development.
  • Maxims represent the essence of the law in a more general and abstract way, providing important principles to guide legal decision-making.
  • Just like how idioms and proverbs are used in everyday language, incorporating maxims into legal reasoning helps improve understanding and application.
  • Knowing the meaning and significance of important legal maxims can give you an edge in cracking the CLAT 2024 exam.

Hope this helped you. All the best!

Frequently Asked Questions

It means that an act does not make a person guilty unless the mind is guilty.
It suggests that there is enough evidence to establish a case unless proved otherwise.
    It represents the legal reasoning or grounds for a court's decision.
      It denotes the legal responsibility assumed by someone acting as a parent.
        It suggests "buyer beware," placing responsibility on the purchaser to assess risks.


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