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Non liquet

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In law, a non liquet is a situation where there is no applicable law. Non liquet translates into English from Latin as "it is not clear".[1] According to Cicero, the term was applied during the Roman Republic to a verdict of "not proven" where the guilt or innocence of the accused was "not clear".[2] The related words are a legal gap and lacuna (pl. lacunas or lacunae). The latter means "gap, void, defect, want, or loss".[3] The meaning of the former is similar. Some lacunae and gaps in law, especially when they are the result of unforeseen circumstances or unintended inadequacy in language on the part of the legislator, cannot be filled in another way than by the change of law and those who take adantage of them in a sense legally circumvent the law (its purposes, goals, basic principles).[4]

See also[edit]


  1. Black's Law Dictionary (8th ed. 2004)
  2. See Charton T. Lewis, A Latin Dictionary, liqueo[1] and Cic. Clu. 18.76. Deinde homines sapientes et ex vetere illa disciplina iudiciorum, qui neque absolvere hominem nocentissimum possent, neque eum de quo esset orta suspicio pecunia oppugnatum, re illa incognita, primo condemnare vellent, non liquere dixerunt.[2]
  3. Garner BA. (2001). A dictionary of modern legal usage, p. 496, Oxford University Press. See also Charton T. Lewis, A Latin Dictionary[3]
  4. See Maciej Koszowski, The Scope of Application of Analogical Reasoning in Statutory Law. American International Journal of Contemporary Research no. 1/2017 (v. 7), pp. 17-27.

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