Duhaime's Law Dictionary


Argumentum Ab Inconvenienti Plurimum Valet In Lege Definition:

Latin: An argument drawn from inconvenience is forcible in law.

A very challenging and rarely successful legal argument that a suggested interpretation ought to be brought to bear in a court of law because of the balance of inconvenience any other interpretation might cause.

In the case of contracts, given freedom of contract, one can readily perceive the opportunity to avoid contractual duties were this maxim to be frequently applied and relied upon.

In the event of the interpretation of statutes, the maxim is more readily looked at by the court but, it seems, only in the last resort.

Law professor Albert Mayrand translated the maxim as follows:

"L'inconvénient qu'une proposition de droit comporte est une raison sérieuse d`écarter cette prosition (the inconvenience that a proposed interpeatation may cause is a serious reason to discard it)."

Argumentum Ab Inconvenienti Plurimum Valet In LegeHerbert Broom considered Argumentum ab inconvenienti plurimum valet in lege to be a viable - indeed, a fundamental maxim in legal logic. In his 1845 treatise, he wrote (relying on Coke Upon Littleton, page 66a):

"Argumentum ab inconvenienti plurimum valet in lege - an argument drawn from inconvenience is forcible in law.

"In doubtful cases, arguments drawn from inconvenience are of great weight. Thus, arguments of inconvenience are sometimes of great value upon the question of intention. If there be in any deed or instrument equivocal expressions, and great inconvenience must necessarily follow from one construction, it is strong to shew that such construction is not according to the true intention of the grantor.

"But, where there is no equivocal expression in the instrument, and the words used admit only of one meaning, arguments of inconvenience prove only want of foresight in the grantor. But because he wanted foresight, courts of justice cannot make a new instrument."

Sometimes shortened to, simply, argumentum ab inconvenienti.

"There is a Latin maxim, argumentum ab inconvenienti," wrote Justice Undercofler of the Supreme Court of Georgia in Plantation Pipe Line v City of Bremen. "This maxim calls for the taking into consideration of the inconvenience which the proposed construction of the law would create."

To this comes the not-surprising caveat of Justice Foley of the United States District Court in Gustin v. Nevada-Pacific Development:

"... argumentum ab inconvenienti might be entitled to great weight, but it cannot be invoked where the language of the law is ... plain."

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