Latin Legal Terms

Corpus or corporis

Corpus or corporis – this Latin noun literally means “body”, “corpse”. In practice it is used in the legal maxim “corpus delicti”, applicable in the area of Criminal Law in some jurisdictions. There it states that a person can not be convicted for performance of criminal actions, until it is proved first that the criminal activities have even occurred (i.e. that there is actually a wrongful action performed). It could be expressed also as a description of the elements that form a punishable crime. These can be act (or non-acting), that harms the public order of the society; its illegalness, the damages that occurred; the guilt.

The word participates also in the legal term “corpus legis”, which means “a collection of laws”. It is used to detail particular branch of legislation applicable within a jurisdiction. For example, “corpus juris civilis” is the collection of Civil Laws. The term “corpus legis” differs than “corpus juris”, which details the whole law of a country or jurisdiction (i.e. not just a branch of it).

The word relates also to the legal term “corpus juris gentium”, applicable in the International Law, where refers to the whole package of international legislature, recognized by the countries in their international relations.

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