Duhaime's Law Dictionary


Nota Bene Definition:

Latin: note well.

Often misrepresented as note bene.

The term means note well or take notice.

The phrase was a favorite of the great English legal writer (and lawyer and polirtician) Edward Coke (1552-1634) who uses it throughout his Coke's Reports such as, for example, in this law report style summary of The Earl of Pembrook's Case (also known, simply, as Pembook's Case), decided in the Court of King's Bench. One would note, though, that Edward Coke ("Sir" Edrwad Coke as he was styllized by the English peertage protocol) was a frequent flyer when it came to deferring to Latin terms, a usage that must of hardly endeared him to the general population when they needed and went looking for understandable legal principles (most, though, at that time, were admittedly illiterate):

"In an action on the case brought by the Earl of Pembrook against Sir Henry Barkley, for interrupting him of certain walks in the forest of Selwood, the defendant pleaded a grant of them by the said Earl to the Lord Maur. Berkley in tail by deed shewn forth.

nota bene road sign"It was held by (Sir John) Popham, Chief Justice (1531-1607), and the whole court, that in the same term the plaintiff may pray that the deed be entered in hæ verba, and afterwards he may demur, or take issue at his pleasure.

"But in another term the deed shall not at his prayer be entered in hæc verba, although he would demur on it, for then the deed is out of court.

"And afterwards the deed on the prayer in the same term was entered in hec verba. The Earl pleaded that ulterius per script prædictum provisum fuit (without shewing forth any part) because the deed was entered in hec verba, quod nota, good policy. And the Earl shewed the condition and the breach of it: Nota bene."

REFERENCES:

  • Pembrook's Case, 5 Co. Rep. 153 (15XX)

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