Duhaime's Law Dictionary


Actus Regis Nemini Est Damnosa Definition:

Latin: The law will not work a wrong.

Related Terms: Actus Dei Nemini Facit Injuriam, Executio Juris Non Habet Injuriam

Often taken as synonymous with actus dei nemini facit injuriam. However the latter is in regards to an act of God; not an act of the law.

This is one of those Latin maxims that, but for Herbert Broom, may have been long forgotten.

Broom described it as follows:

"Actus legis nemini est damnosa - an act in law shall prejudice no man.

"Thus, the general principle is that if a man marry his debtor, the debt is thereby extinguished.

"But still a case may be so circumstanced as not to come within that rule. For instance, a bond conditioned for the payment of money after the obligor's death, made to a woman in contemplation of the obligor's marrying her, and intended for her benefit if she should survive, is not released by the marriage, but an action will lie at her suit against the executor. And this results from the principle that the law will not work a wrong, for the bond was given for the purpose of making a provision for the wife in the event of her surviving the obligor, and it would be iniquitous to set it aside on account of the marriage, since it was for the very event of the marriage that the bond was meant to provide."

J. S. Wharton's 1848 American edition of his law dictionary:

"Actus dei vel legis nemini est damnosa ... an act of law is hurtful to no one."

REFERENCES:

  • Broom, Herbert, A Selection of Legal Maxims Classified and Illustrated, 10th Ed., (London: Sweet & Maxwell Limited, 1939).
  • Wharton, John Jane Smith, Law Lexicon, or Dictionary of Jurisprudence: Explaining All the Technical Words and Phrases Employed in the Several Departments of English Law, including also the Various Legal Terms Used in Commercial Transactions; Together with an Explanatory as well as Literal Translation of the Latin Maxims Contained in the Writings of the Ancient and Modern Commentators (Harrisburg, Pa., I. G. M'Kinley, 1848).

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