Exceptio probat regulam – Legal Maxim

Literal Meaning

An exception proves the rule. 


The meaning of this legal maxim has been widely misinterpreted. In literal sense it means that if there is an exception which can be applied to a specific case this proves that a general rule exists. The best example of this legal maxim can be a sign board providing “Left turn prohibited’, it automatically & implicitly provides that taking a right turn or going straight is permitted.



The origin of this legal maxim is in the phrase – “exceptio probat regulam in casibus non exceptis”, of the republican Rome. The meaning of this phrase in the republican Rome was – ‘The exception of a rules implies that there is a general rule in the first place’. The second part of this phrase ‘casibus non exceptis’ is generally missing in the use of this maxim in modern times , thus, creates a confusion and gets misinterpreted .

Case Reference

a. Kashmir Motor Driver Association vs. Union of India[1]

In the above mentioned case, the principle ‘Exceptio probat regulam’ was used be the honorable High Court of Jammu & Kashmir.

b. Bhavani Amma vs. Madhavi Amma & Another

In the above mentioned case the honorable High Court of Kerala Provided

“Exceptio probat regulam de rebus non exceptis. (An exception proves the rule concerning things not excepted.) Section 39, when it says that until partition no member of the tarwad shall be deemed to have any heritable interest in tarwad property, has to be understood to say that what a member gets in partition of the tarwad is heritable property in his or her hands.”[2]

c. Williams v. Jones[3]

In the above mentioned case also the maxim Exceptio probat regulam was used by the court.

Edited by Vigneshwar Ramasubramania

Approved & Published – Sakshi Raje


[1] Kashmir Motor Driver Union v. Union of India , AIR 1983 J K 100.

[2] Bhavani Amma v. Madhavi Amma & Another, 1963 SCC OnLine Ker 111.

[3] Williams v. Jones, 95 N.C. 504.

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