Casus Fortuitus Non Est Spectandus; Et Nemo Tenetur Divinare – Legal Maxim

Literal Meaning

A fortuitous event is not to be foreseen and no person is bound to divine it.


The term Et Nemo Tenetur Divinare is a latin term and it literally translate into No one is bound to foretell. The maxim is based on the principle that states that no one is bound to divine the future. Similarly the term Casus Fortuitus Non Est Spectandus also states that no person can foresee the future events. The maxim aims to describe a situation which has occurred due to certain unforeseen circumstances which couldn’t have been predicted by any individual. It describes act of God. Anything which has occurred due to certain acts beyond the control of the people are referred.


The maxim Casus Fortuitus Non Est Spectandus is a laitn term which states that a fortuitous event is not to be foreseen and no person is bound to divine it. It describes a situation where the act could not have been foreseen by any individual and it generally indicates an event caused due to unpredictable circumstances. No person having rational resonating could in the rarest of rare situation predict such an outcome.  


If any loss or damage is happened to any person due to earthquake or flood the such situations are described by the maxim Casus Fortuitus Non Est Spectandus; Et Nemo Tenetur Divinare

Case Reference

In the case of the Case of the Chancellor, Masters, and Scholars of the University of Oxford[1] it was observed that it would be mischievous if another construction should be made; for suppose, that one seised of an advowson in fee resorts and repairs to church, according to the laws in such case established, and for good consideration grants the next avoidance, and many years after becomes a popish recusant, and is thereof convicted, it would be hard that this grant should be avoided, for nemo tenetur divinare , and it is not possible that the grantee should have foreknowledge of it, which is merely a future contingent; and it would be also against reason, that a man by his subsequent offence should take away a lawful interest vested by his own grant, upon good consideration vested in a stranger.

In the case of Morrice v Baker and Elizabeth[2] it was stated that As to the second matter, whether the defendant may pull down the nusans before the house be made, and so come to be a nusans; I do much doubt of this; but I think he cannot do this, nemo tenetur divinare, here it is only said conatus fuit, to edifie this house, and rear up the timber, the defendant hath no hurt by this, for he may afterwards leave off again; the defendant is not to pull this down, here he would pull this down, for his intent only, whereas he may after forbear, for that melius recurrere, quam male currere, here it is said, that molliter, he laid his hands upon him. If one take my goods, in preservation of them, I cannot so do. If one comes upon his own land and intends to come upon my land, conatus est to come on my land, upon this imagination, I am to lay hands upon him, I never saw in any book such a justification for a conation, because he did not do it; and I do much marvel, that any one should give such advice for such a pleading as this is, the best way for the defendant had been to have pleaded non culp.

 In the case of Hobart v Hammond[3] it was resolved, if the lord in case of uncertainty of fines, assess a reasonable fine, and require the copyholder to pay it, the copyholder is not bound pay it because he cannot tell what fine the lord will assess, et nemo tenetur divinare; and therefore he cannot provide any certain sum, and therefore he shall have convenient time to pay it, if the lord himself appoints no certain day for payment of it; but otherwise it is of fines certain.

Edited by Vigneshwar Ramasubramania

Approved & Published – Sakshi Raje


[1] [1613] 1 WLUK 3

[2] Morrice v Baker and Elizabeth, [1612] 1 WLUK 84

[3] Hobart v Hammond, [1600] 1 WLUK 149


I am Kousini Gupta, final year BBA.LLB. student from Symbiosis Law School, Hyderabad. The topics in Constitutional, Intellectual Property, Entertainment and Media Law excite me in particular and bring out the best in me. I have interned at District Court, High Court and several reputed law firms. The experience of these internships was highly valuable and enriching. My research and publications have been accepted in reputed national journals. Besides, I also enjoy mooting and have several participation certificates to my credit. In my free time, I like to be creative with paintings and dance to my favourite tunes.