Latinismos: fumus boni iuris; periculum in mora

Many legal translators simply choose not to translate Latin expressions into English or Spanish, leaving them as they appear in the original text. And, indeed, there are certainly dozens of Latin expressions used “as is” in both legal Spanish and legal English. Nevertheless, many of them do have accepted renderings in the other language that should probably be used instead of the Latin in translated texts. And when the Latin phrase in question is not generally used in the other language, a definitional translation may be warranted. In blog entries under Latinismos I will highlight some of the Latin expressions that I believe legal translators will encounter most often.

fumus boni iuris ; periculum in mora

These two Latin expressions are not used in legal English, but they are nevertheless fundamental concepts in civil procedure in Spain and in many other Spanish-speaking jurisdictions. Indeed, these are the two requisites that must be present in order for a judge to grant a plaintiff provisional remedies (medidas cautelares)* in a civil proceeding. In that regard, the plaintiff must first demonstrate fumus boni iuris or, in Spanish, aparencia de buen derecho. It must be apparent that the plaintiff has a legal position warranting interim relief (situación jurídica cautelable) and that he has a prima facie likelihood of success on the merits. Secondly, the plaintiff must demonstrate periculum in mora or peligro por la mora procesal. Often translated literally as “danger in delay,” the periculum in mora requisite ultimately requires the plaintiff to demonstrate that there is a real risk of irreparable injury to him due to delay in the resolution of the proceedings.

*In addition to “provisional remedies,” medidas cautelares can be rendered in English as “interim/interlocutory remedies,” “interim relief” and, if the relief ordered is an injunction (orden de hacer o no hacer), “injunctive relief.”

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