Define: Pro Loco Et Tempore

Pro Loco Et Tempore
Pro Loco Et Tempore
Quick Summary of Pro Loco Et Tempore

Pro loco et tempore, a Latin phrase meaning “for the place and time,” is commonly used in historical contexts to describe something that is appropriate or relevant to a specific location and time period. Ancient Roman laws were crafted pro loco et tempore, meaning they were specifically tailored to address the needs and concerns of the time and place in which they were written. For example, a politician’s speech during an election campaign may be customized pro loco et tempore to resonate with the concerns of voters in a particular region. These instances demonstrate how pro loco et tempore can be employed to describe something that is unique to a specific place and time. In the case of the Roman laws, they were formulated to address the distinctive circumstances of ancient Rome. Similarly, the politician’s speech was designed to appeal to the concerns of voters in a specific region during a particular election cycle.

What is the dictionary definition of Pro Loco Et Tempore?
Dictionary Definition of Pro Loco Et Tempore

The Latin phrase “Pro loco et tempore” translates to “for the place and time.” It is commonly used in historical contexts to describe events or actions that were suitable or required for a particular location and moment in time.

Full Definition Of Pro Loco Et Tempore

The concept of “Pro Loco Et Tempore” derives from Latin, meaning “for the place and time.” It embodies principles that are crucial in various areas of law, particularly in contexts where legal determinations depend on the specific circumstances prevailing at a particular location and time. This principle finds application in fields such as contract law, tort law, criminal law, and international law. This legal overview aims to elucidate the significance, application, and implications of Pro Loco Et Tempore across different legal domains in British law.

Historical Background

Historically, the maxim “Pro Loco Et Tempore” has roots in Roman law, where legal norms were often tailored to fit the particularities of different provinces and the times in which they were applied. The Roman approach recognised that laws could not be rigidly applied without considering the local customs, traditions, and conditions of the time. This flexibility was crucial for maintaining order and justice in a diverse and expansive empire.

In British law, the influence of Roman legal principles has been substantial, though filtered through centuries of common law development. The adaptability encapsulated by Pro Loco Et Tempore is mirrored in the common law system’s emphasis on precedent and the specific facts of each case.

Application in British Contract Law

In British contract law, Pro Loco Et Tempore plays a significant role in interpreting and enforcing agreements. Contracts are often negotiated and executed within particular local contexts and under specific temporal circumstances that can influence their terms and performance.

Local Context

The place where a contract is made can impact its interpretation and enforceability. For instance, local laws and customs can influence the meaning of certain terms within a contract. A contract made in London may be interpreted differently than one made in Edinburgh due to variations in local commercial practices and legal standards.

Temporal Context

The time at which a contract is made can also affect its terms and conditions. Economic conditions, technological advancements, and social norms at the time of contract formation can influence the parties’ intentions and expectations. For example, a contract for the sale of goods made during a period of economic inflation may include price adjustment clauses that would not be necessary in a stable economic period.

Case Law Example

In the case of Smith v. Hughes (1871), the court considered the context in which a contract for the sale of oats was made. The seller knew that the buyer required old oats for horse feed, but sold him new oats instead. The court ruled in favour of the buyer, highlighting the importance of the specific circumstances (the place and time) under which the contract was formed, which influenced the buyer’s understanding and the seller’s obligations.

Application in Tort Law

In tort law, Pro Loco Et Tempore is essential in determining liability and assessing damages. The specific circumstances of the incident, including its location and timing, are critical in evaluating the conduct of the parties involved and the extent of harm caused.

Local Context

The place where a tortious act occurs can affect the standard of care expected. For instance, the standard of care in a bustling urban environment like London may differ from that in a rural area due to differing risks and expectations.

Temporal Context

The timing of a tortious act can influence the assessment of liability and damages. For example, the expectations of safety and the foreseeability of harm can vary depending on whether an incident occurred during daytime or at night, during a busy period or a quiet one.

Case Law Example

In Bolton v. Stone (1951), the House of Lords considered the local and temporal context in determining the liability of a cricket club for injuries sustained by a passerby hit by a cricket ball. The court considered the location of the cricket ground, the frequency of such incidents, and the precautions taken by the club, ultimately ruling that the risk was too remote to impose liability.

Application in Criminal Law

In criminal law, Pro Loco Et Tempore is pivotal in assessing the culpability of defendants and the severity of offences. The specific circumstances of the offence, including where and when it occurred, are crucial in determining appropriate charges and penalties.

Local Context

The location of a crime can influence the perception of its severity and the appropriate response. Crimes committed in areas with high crime rates might be treated differently than those in low-crime areas due to differing community standards and expectations.

Temporal Context

The timing of a crime can also affect its assessment. Crimes committed during periods of civil unrest or emergency situations may be viewed more severely due to the heightened need for public order and safety.

Case Law Example

In R v. Dudley and Stephens (1884), the defendants were shipwrecked and resorted to cannibalism to survive. The court considered the extreme circumstances (the place and time) under which the act was committed. While the defendants were convicted of murder, the unique situation led to significant public debate and eventually a royal pardon, illustrating how extraordinary conditions can influence legal outcomes.

Application in International Law

In international law, Pro Loco Et Tempore underscores the necessity of considering the specific circumstances of events and agreements between nations. This principle is crucial in the application of treaties, the resolution of disputes, and the enforcement of international norms.

Local Context

The geographical location of an international incident or agreement can have profound implications. Territorial disputes, for example, require a detailed understanding of the local context, including historical claims, geographic features, and the presence of local populations.

Temporal Context

The timing of international actions or agreements is equally significant. Historical contexts, such as colonial histories or previous conflicts, can influence current international relations and the interpretation of treaties.

Case Law Example

In the International Court of Justice case concerning the Temple of Preah Vihear (Cambodia v. Thailand) (1962), the court considered historical maps and the specific circumstances of the colonial period to determine the territorial sovereignty over the temple. The decision highlighted the importance of understanding the local and temporal context in resolving international disputes.

Challenges and Criticisms

While Pro Loco Et Tempore provides a flexible framework for legal analysis, it also presents certain challenges and criticisms. The reliance on specific circumstances can lead to inconsistencies and unpredictability in legal outcomes. Critics argue that this flexibility can undermine the principle of legal certainty and equal treatment under the law.


The application of Pro Loco Et Tempore can result in different legal outcomes for similar cases due to variations in local and temporal contexts. This inconsistency can be problematic, particularly in a common law system where precedent is important for guiding future decisions.


The principle can introduce a degree of subjectivity into legal decision-making, as judges must interpret the relevance and impact of specific circumstances. This subjectivity can lead to differing interpretations and potential biases in the application of the law.

Legal Certainty

Legal certainty is a fundamental principle of the rule of law, ensuring that individuals can predict legal consequences and plan their actions accordingly. The flexible nature of Pro Loco Et Tempore can sometimes conflict with this principle, creating uncertainty about how laws will be applied in particular situations.

Balancing Flexibility and Certainty

Despite these challenges, Pro Loco Et Tempore remains an essential principle in British law, providing necessary flexibility to address the complexities of real-life situations. The legal system seeks to balance this flexibility with the need for consistency and predictability through various mechanisms.

Judicial Guidance

Judges provide guidance through detailed reasoning in their judgments, explaining how specific circumstances influence their decisions. This reasoning helps create a body of case law that can guide future cases and promote consistency.

Legal Standards

Establishing clear legal standards and principles can help mitigate the potential for inconsistency. For example, setting out the factors that should be considered in determining the standard of care in tort law can provide a framework for applying Pro Loco Et Tempore consistently.

Appellate Review

The appellate system provides a mechanism for reviewing and correcting potential inconsistencies or subjective biases in the application of Pro Loco Et Tempore. Higher courts can provide authoritative interpretations that promote uniformity and clarity.


The principle of Pro Loco Et Tempore is deeply embedded in British law, reflecting the necessity of considering the specific circumstances of each case to achieve just and equitable outcomes. While this principle introduces challenges related to consistency and legal certainty, the legal system employs various mechanisms to balance flexibility with predictability. Through detailed judicial reasoning, clear legal standards, and appellate review, British law strives to ensure that Pro Loco Et Tempore serves the interests of justice while maintaining the rule of law.

In sum, Pro Loco Et Tempore remains a vital legal principle, enabling the law to adapt to the diverse and dynamic nature of human affairs. Its application across different legal domains—contract law, tort law, criminal law, and international law—demonstrates its broad relevance and enduring significance in the pursuit of justice.

Pro Loco Et Tempore FAQ'S

“Pro Loco Et Tempore” is a Latin phrase that translates to “for the place and time.” In legal contexts, it refers to actions or decisions that are valid only for a specific location and period.

In contract law, “Pro Loco Et Tempore” can be used to specify the jurisdiction and duration of a contract. It ensures that the terms and conditions of the agreement are applicable only within a particular place and time frame.

Yes, by including “Pro Loco Et Tempore” in a contract, parties can limit their liability to a specific location and time period. This can be particularly useful in situations where the liability may vary depending on the jurisdiction.

Yes, “Pro Loco Et Tempore” is often used in international contracts to define the jurisdiction and duration of the agreement. It helps to establish clarity and avoid potential conflicts arising from different legal systems.

Yes, “Pro Loco Et Tempore” can be used to limit the enforcement of a court judgment to a specific jurisdiction and time frame. This can be beneficial when dealing with cross-border disputes or when parties want to avoid the extraterritorial application of a judgment.

While “Pro Loco Et Tempore” can be useful, it is important to ensure that the limitations imposed are reasonable and do not violate any applicable laws or public policy. Courts may disregard or modify such limitations if they are deemed unfair or against public interest.

Yes, “Pro Loco Et Tempore” can be included in employment contracts to specify the jurisdiction and duration of the employment relationship. This can be particularly relevant in cases where employees may be required to work in different locations or for a limited period.

In criminal law, “Pro Loco Et Tempore” is not commonly used. Criminal offenses are generally prosecuted based on the jurisdiction where the crime was committed, regardless of any temporal limitations.

Yes, “Pro Loco Et Tempore” can be used in intellectual property agreements to limit the transfer of rights to a specific jurisdiction and time period. This can help protect the interests of the parties involved and ensure compliance with local laws.

Including “Pro Loco Et Tempore” in legal agreements is not mandatory, but it can provide clarity and avoid potential disputes regarding jurisdiction and duration. It is advisable to consult with a legal professional to determine whether its inclusion is appropriate for a specific situation.

Related Phrases
No related content found.

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.

Cite Term

To help you cite our definitions in your bibliography, here is the proper citation layout for the three major formatting styles, with all of the relevant information filled in.

  • Page URL:
  • Modern Language Association (MLA):Pro Loco Et Tempore. DLS Solicitors. June 12 2024
  • Chicago Manual of Style (CMS):Pro Loco Et Tempore. DLS Solicitors. (accessed: June 12 2024).
  • American Psychological Association (APA):Pro Loco Et Tempore. Retrieved June 12 2024, from website:
Avatar of DLS Solicitors
DLS Solicitors : Family Law Solicitors

Our team of professionals are based in Alderley Edge, Cheshire. We offer clear, specialist legal advice in all matters relating to Family Law, Wills, Trusts, Probate, Lasting Power of Attorney and Court of Protection.

All author posts