Every man’s house is his safest refuge; every man’s house is his castle.
Explanation & Origin
Origin – The maxim of law is of Latin origin andwas first adopted by the common law.
Explanation – The law recognises the sanctity of one’s home, giving the person living in it a right to defend it and also to use it as a defence. The maxim of law was most famously used by Sir Edward Coke in the Semayne’s case. Coke stated, “every man’s house is his castle and fortress, as well as for his defence against injury and violence as for his repose.”
The house of a person is his or her safest refuge. The house protects him, his family and his property. A third person or the state does not have a right against his house. Attachment of property against an unpaid debt can only be permitted by the court. No one can force themselves in another person’s house. Even a police officer working under the orders of the state cannot enter a house without announcing.
In the case of Peter Semayne v. Richard Gresham,the extent of a sheriff’s power to break doors was discussed, and five points resolved, the first being that every man’s house ‘is to him as his castle,’ so that he is justified in killing another who breaks into his house to rob or murder him. As per Lord Ellenborough, C.J., in Burdett v. Abbott,a sheriff to execute process may not break an outer door; neither may a bailiff to distrain for rent, though he may enter through an open window; or over a wall.
In the landmark judgment on LGBT rights in India, while striking down some parts of Section 377 of IPC, the Supreme court of India said that Section 377 amounts to unreasonable restriction as it makes carnal intercourse between two consenting adults within their castle a criminal offence. Here the term castle is a reference to the house as per the maxim Domus Sua Cuique Est Tutissimum Refugium – A man’s house is his castle.
In R v. Stevans, Justice Alan Cooper used these words: “The common law has long recognized the sanctity of a person’s home. Sir Edward Coke, in The Institutes of the Laws of England, 1628: “For a man’s house is his castle, et domus sua cuique est tutissimum refugium (and each man’s home is his safest refuge).”
Edited by Vigneshwar Ramasubramania
Approved & Published – Sakshi Raje
All ER Rep 62 5 Co Rep 91 a Cro Eliz 908 Moore KB 668 Yelv 29 77 ER 194
(1605) 5 Rep. 91; 1 Sm. L.C., 1
(1811) 14 East 157
Crabtree v. Robinson, (1885) 15 QBD 312
Long v. Clarke, 1894 QB 19
Navtej Singh Johar v. Union of Ministry of Law and Justice, Writ petition (Criminal) No. 76 of 2016.
 2011 ONCJ 794 (CanLII)