Animus Lucrandi

Animus Lucrandi
Animus Lucrandi
Quick Summary of Animus Lucrandi

Animus Lucrandi is a Latin term that refers to the intention to profit or gain. In legal terms, it is used to describe the mental state or intent of a person engaging in a particular action, such as entering into a contract or committing a crime. The concept of animus lucrandi is often relevant in cases involving fraud, where the prosecution must prove that the defendant had the intent to deceive and gain financially from their actions. This mental state is an important element in determining liability and culpability in legal proceedings.

What is the dictionary definition of Animus Lucrandi?
Dictionary Definition of Animus Lucrandi

Animus Lucrandi is a Latin phrase that translates to “desire for gain” in English. It refers to a strong motivation or drive to acquire wealth, material possessions, or financial success. This term is often used to describe an individual’s intense ambition or focus on accumulating wealth and maximising profits. It implies a single-minded pursuit of financial gain, often at the expense of other values or considerations. The concept of Animus Lucrandi is commonly associated with capitalism and the pursuit of economic prosperity.

Full Definition Of Animus Lucrandi

Animus lucrandi is a term originating from Latin, used predominantly in legal contexts to describe the intention to gain profit or financial benefit. It is often encountered in the areas of contract law, criminal law, and property law. The concept plays a critical role in distinguishing various forms of legal transactions and obligations, especially when determining the legality and ethicality of actions and agreements. This overview will delve into the nuances of animus lucrandi, its applications in different legal domains, and its significance in the British legal system.

Definition and Origins

Animus lucrandi translates directly to “intention to gain” or “intention to profit”. It is a fundamental principle in legal doctrines that deal with the motive behind actions. The term is typically contrasted with animus donandi, which refers to the intention to give or donate without expecting any return. Understanding the motive behind an action is crucial in the legal analysis of contracts, fraud, theft, and other areas where the intention of the parties involved can determine the nature and legality of their actions.

Animus Lucrandi in Contract Law

In contract law, animus lucrandi is often examined to understand the intentions behind agreements. For a contract to be legally binding, there must be an offer, acceptance, consideration, and intention to create legal relations. The presence of animus lucrandi can influence the interpretation of these elements, particularly consideration and intention to create legal relations.


Consideration refers to something of value exchanged between parties in a contract. Animus lucrandi underscores the expectation of a reciprocal benefit in contractual relationships. For instance, when parties enter into a commercial contract, it is presumed that both sides have the intention to gain some profit or benefit. The absence of such an intention can lead to questions about the validity of the contract.

The Intention to Create Legal Relations

The intention to create legal relations is another essential component of a valid contract. In commercial agreements, animus lucrandi reinforces the presumption that the parties intend to be legally bound by the contract. This presumption can be rebutted in cases where it can be shown that the parties did not intend to create legal obligations, such as in social or domestic agreements where the primary motive may not be financial gain.

Animus Lucrandi in Criminal Law

In criminal law, animus lucrandi is a significant factor in identifying and prosecuting financial crimes, including fraud, theft, and embezzlement. The intention to gain financially is a critical element that distinguishes these crimes from other illegal activities.


Fraud involves deceit or false representation made to secure an unfair or unlawful gain. Proving animus lucrandi is essential in establishing that the accused had the intention to benefit financially from their deceptive actions. The Fraud Act 2006 outlines several offences where animus lucrandi is a key component, such as fraud by false representation, fraud by failing to disclose information, and fraud by abuse of position.


Theft, as defined by the Theft Act 1968, involves dishonestly appropriating property belonging to another with the intention of permanently depriving the other of it. Here, animus lucrandi is implicit in the intention to deprive the owner of their property for personal gain. Without this intention, the act may not constitute theft but could fall under other legal categories.


Embezzlement refers to the misappropriation of funds placed in one’s trust or belonging to one’s employer. The animus lucrandi in such cases highlights the individual’s intention to convert these funds for personal use or gain unlawfully.

Animus Lucrandi in Property Law

In property law, animus lucrandi plays a role in determining the legal ownership and transfer of property. It is particularly relevant in cases involving adverse possession and trusts.

Adverse Possession

Adverse possession allows a person to claim ownership of land under certain conditions, including continuous and exclusive possession for a specified period. The intention to possess, coupled with animus lucrandi, can strengthen a claim of adverse possession. It demonstrates that the possessor not only occupied the land but also intended to benefit from its use and control.


In trust law, animus lucrandi can affect the creation and administration of trusts. Trustees have a fiduciary duty to act in the best interests of the beneficiaries, often involving the management of trust property for profit. The trustee’s animus lucrandi, if aligned with the beneficiaries’ interests, is legitimate. However, if a trustee acts with personal animus lucrandi that conflicts with their fiduciary duties, it can lead to legal consequences such as breach of trust or fiduciary duty.

Significance in the British Legal System

In the British legal system, animus lucrandi is integral to ensuring that legal and commercial activities are conducted with transparency and integrity. It serves as a measure to differentiate between legitimate profit-seeking activities and unlawful actions undertaken with the intent to gain financially at the expense of others.

Case Law

British case law offers numerous examples where animus lucrandi has been a decisive factor. For instance, in the case of R v Ghosh [1982] QB 1053, the court established a test for dishonesty that includes considering whether the defendant realized that what they were doing was, by ordinary standards, dishonest. This case highlighted the importance of understanding the defendant’s intention to gain (animus lucrandi) in determining criminal liability.

Regulatory Frameworks

Regulatory bodies such as the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) also emphasize animus lucrandi in their oversight and enforcement activities. These organizations aim to ensure that financial markets operate fairly and that individuals or entities seeking profit do so within the bounds of the law.


Animus lucrandi, or the intention to gain profit, is a pivotal concept in various areas of law. Its application in contract law helps establish the validity and enforceability of agreements by highlighting the mutual intention to benefit. In criminal law, animus lucrandi is crucial in identifying and prosecuting financial crimes, distinguishing between legal and illegal profit-seeking activities. In property law, it influences the outcomes of adverse possession claims and the administration of trusts. The British legal system relies on this concept to maintain fairness and integrity in legal and commercial transactions, ensuring that profit-seeking behaviours are conducted lawfully and ethically.

Understanding animus lucrandi and its implications across different legal domains is essential for legal practitioners, businesses, and individuals. It provides a framework for assessing the motives behind actions and agreements, helping to safeguard against fraud, theft, and other financial crimes. As legal contexts continue to evolve, the principles underlying animus lucrandi will remain a cornerstone in the pursuit of justice and equitable conduct.

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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: 7th June 2024.

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