Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Ipso jure Definition:

Latin: by operation of law.

Related Terms: Ex officio, Ipso facto

For example, the legal entitlement and ownership of a deceased's estate by the named or eligible beneficiary, occurs and comes into being as of the moment of death of the testator. It does not require any formality (although the transmission of the title and assets is often submitted to procedural requirements known as probate) or even knowledge of the death on the part of the beneficiary.

Another example is the seizure of property by customs agents which, if the property is found to be contraband, is forfeit to the government ipso jure: automatically, without any need for any intervening judicial decision, merely through the application of the law.

The Bankruptcy (Scotland) Act 1913 (United Kingdom), at §97 proposed that upon judicial declaration of bankruptcy, the property of the bankrupt belongs to the bankruptcy trustee ipso jure:

"The act and warrant of confirmation in favour of the trustee shall ipso jure transfer to and vest in him or any succeeding trustee, for behoof of the creditors, absolutely and irredeemably as at the date of the sequestration, with all right, title, and interest, the whole property of the debtor...."

In Reference re Newfoundland Continental Shelf, Canada's Supreme Court used these words:

"1949 international law recognized that continental shelf rights of coastal States arose ipso jure, that is to say, by operation of law."

In his 1861 dictionary, John Trayner rendered ipso jure as follows:

"Ipso jure: by the law itself."


  • Mayrand, Albert, Dictionnaire de maximes et locutions latines utilisées en droit (Montréal: Éditions Yvon Blais, 2007), page 267-268.
  • Reference re Newfoundland Continental Shelf, [1984] 1 SCR 86
  • Trayner, John, Latin Phrases and Maxims Collected From the Institutional and Other Writers on Scotch Law with Translations and Illustrations (Edinburgh: William Paterson, 1861), page 136.

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