Duhaime's Law Dictionary


Actus Curiae Neminem Gravabit Definition:

Latin: An act of the court shall prejudice no one.

A Latin maxim designed to ensure that neither party is prejudiced by some accidental or unavoidable action or omission of the court such as, but not limited to, an extraordinary delay in rendering judgment, or the sudden illness, injury or death of a judge while her or his reasons were still pending.

With proper Latin characters:

  • actus curiæ neminem gravabit

Justice van Rensberg, in Silver and Cohen v Imax:

"The Latin maxim ... actus curiae neminem gravabit: what the court does ought not to prejudice a litigant."

Similarly, these words of Justice Hall in Monahan Estate v Nelson at ¶61:

" The maxim actus curiae neminem gravabit expressing the concept that what the court does ought not to prejudice a litigant...."

In Carl v Department of Labor, Justice Hamley of the The Supreme Court of Washington used these words:

"... the maxim actus curiae neminem gravabit ... has been well said to be found in right and good sense, and to afford a safe and certain guide for the administration of justice, it is the duty of the court to see that the parties shall not suffer by the delay."

In Mitchell v Overman (1881), Justice John Marshall Harlan I of the Supreme Court of United States used these words:

John Marshall Hanlan"... the rule established by the general concurrence of the American and English courts is, that 

where the delay in rendering a judgment or a decree arises from the act of the court, that is, where the delay has been caused either for its convenience, or by the multiplicity or press of business, either the intricacy of the questions involved, or of any other cause not attributable to the laches of the parties, the judgment or the decree may be entered retrospectively, as of a time when it should or might have been entered up. In such cases, upon the maxim actus curiæ neminem gravabit, which has been well said to be founded in right and good sense, and to afford a safe and certain guide for the administration of justice. It is the duty of the court to see that the parties shall not suffer by the delay"

In Becker v King, Justice Joe Cowart of the District Court of Appeal of Florida wrote:

"Under the maxim actus curiae neminem gravabit (An act of the court should prejudice no one. Where any delay in a suit is caused by the court neither party should suffer for it), courts from very ancient times have exercised the inherent power of entering judgments nunc pro tunc in order that the rights of a litigant, who is himself not at fault, should not be impaired or lost.

"A specific application of this maxim is stated in Bacon's Abridgment: If the plaintiff or defendant die whilst the Court are considering of their judgment, or after a special verdict or special case and pending the time for argument or for advising thereon — they will permit the judgment to be entered up as of the term in which it regularly might have been."

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