Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Domus Sua Cuique Est Tutissimum Refugium Definition:

Latin: Every man's house is his refuge.

Related Terms: Semayne's Case

Edward Coke, in the well-known Seymayne's Case, used the domus sua cuique est tutissimum refugium maxim to justify a number of legal principels the most famous of which is that:

"That the house of every one is to him his castle and fortress as well as huis defence against injury and violence, as for his repose...."

From the summary of the report:

"The house of every man is his castle."

Domus Sua Cuique Est Tutissimum RefugiumBroom presents the maxim as:

"Every man's house is his castle."

In R v Stevens, Justice Alan Cooper used these words at ¶35:

"The common law has long recognized the sanctity of a person’s home. Sir Edward Coke, in The Institutes of the Laws of England, 1628: "For a man's house is his castle, et domus sua cuique est tutissimum refugium (and each man's home is his safest refuge."

"In 1763 British Prime Minister William Pitt, the first Earl of Chatham, also known as Pitt the Elder stated as follows: The poorest man may in his cottage bid defiance to all the forces of the crown. It may be frail - its roof may shake - the wind may blow through it - the storm may enter - the rain may enter - but the King of England cannot enter."

In the 7th edition of his Criminal Law, Francis Wharton wrote

"So highly indeed does the English common law cherish the sanctity of the dwellinghouse, that it has been said that a man is justified by that law in opposing, even to death, those seeking to break into it. When in his house the owner is at bay; he is called upon to retreat no further; and in this, his castle, he may use any violence, even to the .extent of slaying his assailant, to resist an illegal entrance."1



  • Broom, Herbert, A Selection of Legal Maxims Classified and Illustrated, 10th Ed., (London: Sweet & Maxwell Limited, 1939), pages 281-288
  • Rabi v Rosu, 277 DLR 4th 544 (2006)
  • R v Stevens, 2011 ONCJ 784
  • Seymane's Case, 5 Co. Rep. 91 (1604)
  • When a Man's House Is His Castle, 10 Alb. L.J. 241 (1874-1875). NOTE 1: quoted in this law journal article.

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