De minimis non curat lex

Meaning:

  • The law does not concern itself about trifles

Meaning of De minimis non curat lex Word by Word:

  • De: About
  • Minimis: Minimal or very small things
  • Non curat: not take care
  • Lex: Body of law

Explanation:

  • The law does not concern itself about trifles (small acts). Small acts are those acts about which a person with normal temper, normal sense and normal mind would not complain.
  • For example, if A is driving on a road having potholes in a rainy season. There is mud on the road. When crossing the pothole the mud on the road get sprayed on pedestrian say B travelling near the car. A has not done it intentionally. If B has a normal sense he would not complain. In front of the court of law, A is not liable to B as the case is a trifle for it. Thus court does not waste their valuable time for trifles.
  • Everybody knows that when wheat is taken to floor mill some part is always retained by the owner of the mill in the machine. But nobody complains about such small acts to the court and even the court law do not concern about such acts.
  • The maxim is also recognized by IPC section 95.

 Case Laws:

Where the maxim De minimis non curat lex is applied.

Case – 1: Coward v/s Badley (1859) 4 H & N 478

Facts:

  • A building was on fire. A bystander Badley (the defendant) touched the arm of a fireman (the plaintiff) to attract fireman’s attention to another part of the building where a fire was raging.

Legal Proceedings:

  • The plaintiff filed a suit in a court against the defendant for battery (actual physical assault)
  • Court held that the act is coming under the category called trifle where a person of normal temper and sense would not complain and hence the defendant is not liable for the tort of the battery as this amount to a trivial act.

Where the maxim De minimis non curat lex is not applied.

Case – 1: Helford v/s Bailey: (1849) 18 L. J. Q. B. 109



Facts:

  • The plaintiff has exclusive Right of fishing in water in a particular water body. The defendant casts the net and draws a net out of the water. Plaintiff filled it as trespassing and file petition.

Legal Proceedings:

  • The plaintiff plea was that he has the exclusive Right and the defendant has violated his right by trespassing and then fishing. There is no question he caught any fish or not. Thus the defendant has created an act of tort against the plaintiff and if repeated in future the defendant would tend to establish the right of fishing.
  • Court held the view of the plaintiff is correct and though it was a trivial act, the court considered to be a tortious act and held the defendant guilty.

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