Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Alieni juris Definition:

Latin: under the legal authority of another.

Related Terms: Sui Juris, Non Compos Mentis, Guardian Ad Litem

Aieni juris refers to a person who cannot exercise full legal rights because they are under the full or partial legal authority of another.

The term is the traditional counterpart of sui juris (of his own right, a person who has full legal capacity).

Children are alieni juris until the reach the age of majority although certain rights may be extended to them before attaining the age of majority such as, but not necessarily limited to voting rights and enrollment in the armed forces.

So, too, for the duration of the bankruptcy proceedings, is a bankrupt.

Historically, and still the case in Muslim law, wives were alieni juris, as there rights had to be exercised by their husbands. Indeed, an ancient Latin maxim states as much: uxor non est sui juris, sed sub potestate viri: a wife has no power of her own, but is under the government of her husband.

S. Kovalsky writing in the South African Law Journal:

"The insolvent ... during the period of his insolvency, is not sui juris but in an analogous position to that of a person alieni juris, the trustee complimenting his legal capacity.

"People who are alieni juris may be divided into two classes: those whom the law protects against their fellow men, and those on whom the law has to place restrictions so as to protect other in individuals - or in other words, those protected against the world and those restrained so as to protect the world.

"In the first class may be put those whose incapacity is based on law on so-called natural grounds, for example, minors and lunatics.

"In the second category may be placed those whose capacity is due to themselves, e.g convicts."


  • Branch, Thomas, Principia Legis et Aequitatis: Being an Alphabetical Collection of Maxims, Principles or Rules, Definitions, and Memorable Sayings in Law and Equity, 5th Ed. (London: J. & W.T. Clarke, 1824), page 240.
  • Kovalsky, S., Contracts of an Unrehabilitated Insolvent, 51 S. African L. J. 183 (1934)

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