From 1066, Latin was the language of formal records and legal statutes, being replaced by English in the Proceedings in Courts of Justice Act 1730. However, since only the learned were fluent in Latin, it never became the language of legal pleading or debate. The influences of Latin can be seen in a number of words or phrases such as (but not exhaustively):

‘’ad hoc’’ – created or done for a particular purpose as necessary.

‘’de facto’’- in fact, whether by right or not.

‘’bona fide’’- genuine, real.

‘’inter alia’’- among other things.

‘’ultra vires’’- beyond one’s legal powers.

‘’prima facie’’- accepted as correct until proved otherwise.

‘’a fortiori’’- argument from a stronger meaning.

‘’ab initio’’- from the beginning.

‘’actus reus’’- guilty act.

‘’affidavit’’- he has sworn.

‘’caveat’’- may he beware.

‘’ caveat emptor’’- let the buyer beware.

‘’ compos mentis’’- having command of mind.

‘’ consensus ad idem’’- agreement to the same.

‘’contra legem’’- against the law.

‘’ dictum’’- thing said.

‘’donatio mortis causa’’- deathbed gift.

‘’i.e’’- that is.

‘’ibid’’ – the same.

‘’ idem’’- the same.

There is a plethora of legal terms that are derived from Latin, some of which you may have already encountered some time in your life. You may be surprised that you are familiar with many of these phrases but were not aware of their origin. Latin is a hugely interesting language and one of the oldest tongues which transcends centuries.

This list is not exhaustive. For a full list of Latin terms please visit: