Define: A Quo Invito Aliquid Exigi Potest

A Quo Invito Aliquid Exigi Potest
A Quo Invito Aliquid Exigi Potest
Quick Summary of A Quo Invito Aliquid Exigi Potest

A quo invito aliquid exigi potest, which is a Latin term used in Scots law, refers to the ability to demand something from a person who is unwilling to give it. This term is commonly used in relation to a debtor who is legally obligated to pay a debt, regardless of their desire to do so. For instance, if a person owes money to a creditor, the creditor can legally demand payment even if the debtor does not want to pay. Similarly, if a court orders a person to pay a fine or perform community service, they can be compelled to comply with the court order, even if they are unwilling. These examples demonstrate the concept of a quo invito aliquid exigi potest by illustrating that individuals can be required to do something against their will. In Scots law, there are certain legal obligations that cannot be avoided, and this phrase is used to describe such situations.

What is the dictionary definition of A Quo Invito Aliquid Exigi Potest?
Dictionary Definition of A Quo Invito Aliquid Exigi Potest

In Scots law, this Latin phrase signifies the ability to seize something from an unwilling individual. It typically pertains to a debtor who is legally bound to repay money, regardless of their unwillingness to do so. This contrasts with situations where someone willingly agrees to repay their debts.

Full Definition Of A Quo Invito Aliquid Exigi Potest

The Latin maxim “A quo invito aliquid exigi potest” translates to “From whom something can be demanded against his will.” This legal principle is rooted in the common law tradition and is significant in obligations and liabilities where a party may be compelled to act or pay against their wishes. This overview aims to provide a detailed examination of the maxim, its historical background, applications in modern law, and its implications in various legal contexts.

Historical Background

Latin maxims have long been integral to the development of English common law. “A quo invito aliquid exigi potest” originates in Roman law, where the obligatio (obligation) principle was central to legal relationships. The maxim underscores the idea that certain duties and liabilities can be enforced even if the obliged party is unwilling. This principle was carried forward into mediaeval English law and has influenced contemporary legal systems in the UK and other common law jurisdictions.

Application in Contract Law

In contract law, the maxim applies prominently in scenarios where specific performance or enforcement of contract terms is at issue. Contracts, by their nature, impose obligations on parties. When one party fails to fulfil their contractual duties, the other party may seek legal remedies, compelling the defaulting party to perform their obligations or compensate for any losses.

Specific Performance

Specific performance is an equitable remedy that requires the breaching party to perform their contractual obligations rather than merely pay damages. This remedy is particularly pertinent in contracts involving unique items or real estate, where monetary compensation is inadequate. Under the maxim “A quo invito aliquid exigi potest,” courts can order specific performance, thus compelling the unwilling party to fulfil their contract terms.

Enforcement of Payment Obligations

The maxim also applies to scenarios involving the enforcement of payment obligations. In cases where a debtor refuses to pay a debt, the creditor can seek legal recourse to compel payment. The principle ensures that obligations are met even if the debtor is unwilling, maintaining the integrity and enforceability of contractual agreements.

Application in Tort Law

The maxim applies in tort law when people or organisations must compensate victims for the harm they caused through their actions. Tort law is fundamentally about redressing wrongs and ensuring victims receive appropriate compensation.


In negligence cases, if a party’s failure to exercise reasonable care harms another, the injured party can seek damages. Even if the negligent party is unwilling to compensate, the principle “A quo invito aliquid exigi potest” supports the enforcement of liability, ensuring the victim receives due recompense.

Strict Liability

The maxim is particularly potent in strict liability cases, where a party is liable for damages irrespective of fault or intent. Examples include liability for defective products or hazardous activities. Here, the principle ensures that those responsible for causing harm cannot evade their obligation to compensate merely because they are unwilling.

Application in Family Law

Family law encompasses a range of legal issues, including marriage, divorce, child custody, and support. The principle “A quo invito aliquid exigi potest” is crucial in ensuring compliance with court orders and legal obligations within familial relationships.

Child Support and Maintenance

One significant application is in the enforcement of child support and maintenance orders. Non-custodial parents are often required to provide financial support for their children. When a parent is unwilling to pay, the custodial parent can seek enforcement through legal means, compelling the reluctant parent to fulfil their financial obligations. This ensures the child’s welfare is prioritised, irrespective of the non-custodial parent’s willingness.

Divorce Settlements

The distribution of assets and spousal support can be contentious in divorce proceedings. Courts can issue orders for the division of property and payment of alimony. Even if one party is unwilling to comply with these orders, the principle “A quo invito aliquid exigi potest” ensures that the court’s decisions are enforceable, upholding fairness and justice in the dissolution of marriage.

Application in Property Law

Property law deals with various issues related to the ownership and use of land and property. The maxim is pertinent when property rights and obligations must be enforced against an unwilling party.

Compulsory Purchase

The concept of compulsory purchase, where the government can acquire private property for public use, directly applies this principle. Property owners may be unwilling to sell, but the law allows the state to compel the sale, provided fair compensation is given. This ensures that public interest projects like infrastructure development can proceed without undue hindrance.

Easements and Covenants

Easements and covenants impose obligations on property owners. For instance, an easement may grant a neighbour the right to access part of another’s property. If the property owner is unwilling to honour this right, legal action can enforce the easement, compelling compliance under the principle “A quo invito aliquid exigi potest.”

Application in Criminal Law

In criminal law, the maxim supports the enforcement of legal penalties and obligations imposed on offenders.

Fines and Restitution

Courts often impose fines and restitution orders as part of sentencing. Even if an offender is unwilling to pay, legal mechanisms ensure that these financial penalties are collected, upholding the principle that obligations can be enforced against the will of the obligated party.

Community Service and Other Penalties

Non-monetary penalties, such as community service, also fall under this principle. Offenders can be compelled to perform community service or other court-ordered duties despite their reluctance, ensuring that justice is served and legal orders are respected.

Application in Administrative Law

Administrative law governs the actions of governmental agencies. The maxim is relevant in ensuring compliance with regulatory requirements and administrative decisions.

Regulatory Compliance

Businesses and individuals are often subject to regulatory requirements, such as health and safety standards. If an entity is unwilling to comply, regulatory bodies can enforce compliance through legal action, fines, or other penalties. The principle “A quo invito aliquid exigi potest” underpins the enforceability of these regulations, ensuring adherence to standards.

Administrative Orders

Administrative orders, such as injunctions or cease and desist orders, may be issued to prevent or remedy law violations. Even if the recipient is unwilling to comply, the principle supports the enforcement of these orders, maintaining the rule of law-and-protecting public interests.

Implications and Considerations

The principle “A quo invito aliquid exigi potest” has far-reaching implications across various legal domains. It ensures that legal obligations are enforceable, even against the will of the obligated party, thus maintaining order and justice within the legal system. However, its application must be balanced with fairness, due process, and proportionality considerations.

Fairness and Proportionality

While the principle ensures enforceability, it must be applied fairly and proportionately. For instance, in enforcing debts, courts must ensure that the debtor is not unduly burdened beyond their capacity to pay. Similarly, in compelling specific performance, the remedy must be reasonable and not overly harsh on the obligated party.

Due Process

Due process is a fundamental aspect of the legal system. Enforcing obligations against unwilling parties must adhere to principles of natural justice, providing fair notice and an opportunity to be heard. This ensures that applying the maxim does not result in arbitrary or unjust outcomes.

Human Rights Considerations

In modern legal contexts, human rights considerations are paramount. The enforcement of obligations must respect fundamental rights, such as the right to property, a fair trial, and protection from inhumane or degrading treatment. The principle “A quo invito aliquid exigi potest” must be reconciled with these rights to ensure a just and humane legal system.


The legal maxim “A quo invito aliquid exigi potest” is a cornerstone of the enforceability of legal obligations. Its application spans various areas of law, ensuring that duties and liabilities are met even against the will of the obligated party. From contract and tort law to family, property, criminal, and administrative law, this principle upholds the integrity and effectiveness of the legal system. However, its application must be tempered with fairness, due process, and human rights considerations to maintain a just and equitable legal order.

In sum, “A quo invito aliquid exigi potest” embodies the balance between enforcing legal obligations and safeguarding individual rights, ensuring that justice is both served and perceived to be served within the legal framework.

A Quo Invito Aliquid Exigi Potest FAQ'S

“A Quo Invito Aliquid Exigi Potest” is a Latin phrase that translates to “something can be demanded from someone against their will.” It refers to the legal principle that certain obligations or demands can be enforced on an individual even if they do not consent to it.

This principle can apply to various scenarios, such as the enforcement of child support payments, tax obligations, court-ordered fines or penalties, and contractual obligations.

Yes, “A Quo Invito Aliquid Exigi Potest” allows for the enforcement of child support payments, ensuring that parents fulfill their financial responsibilities towards their children, regardless of their consent.

Yes, the principle of “A Quo Invito Aliquid Exigi Potest” allows the government to enforce tax obligations on individuals, even if they do not consent to paying taxes.

Yes, under the principle of “A Quo Invito Aliquid Exigi Potest,” courts can enforce fines or penalties on individuals who have been found guilty of a crime or have violated certain laws, regardless of their consent.

Yes, “A Quo Invito Aliquid Exigi Potest” allows for the enforcement of contractual obligations on individuals, even if they did not willingly enter into the contract, as long as the contract is legally binding.

Yes, there are certain limitations to this principle. For example, it cannot be used to enforce illegal or unconscionable obligations. Additionally, there may be specific legal defences or remedies available to individuals who believe they are being unjustly subjected to this principle.

No, this principle is primarily applicable in legal contexts and is used to enforce legal obligations. It does not generally apply to personal relationships or non-legal matters.

Yes, individuals have the right to challenge the enforcement of obligations under this principle. They can seek legal remedies, such as filing appeals, presenting defences, or negotiating alternative arrangements.

While the principle may have variations in different legal systems, the concept of enforcing obligations against someone’s will is generally recognized in various legal jurisdictions. However, specific laws and regulations may differ, so it is important to consult the relevant legal framework in a particular jurisdiction.

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This site contains general legal information but does not constitute professional legal advice for your particular situation. Persuing this glossary does not create an attorney-client or legal adviser relationship. If you have specific questions, please consult a qualified attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.

This glossary post was last updated: 11th June 2024.

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