Utile per inutile non vitiatur

Utile per inutile non vitiatur

Literal Meaning

What is useful is not vitiated by the useless.


This maxim is well settled as a general rule of pleading, in criminal as well as civil cases, that mere surplusage will not vitiate.  This maxim means one which is otherwise useful is not rendered invalid by a useless one.




A deed or any instrument in writing, which is otherwise valid and effective, cannot be invalidated by a useless addition to it. 

Case References

Statler v. United States, 1895 SCC OnLine US SC 102

In this case the rule is thus stated: ‘If the jury give a verdict of the whole issue and of more, that which is more is surplusage, and shall not stay judgment, for . Utile per inutile non vitiatur.”

French v. Clinchfield Coal Corporation, 171 Va. 211 (1938)

In this case court mentioned that “Admittedly the instrument would have been free from objection if the words of the court had been omitted. Those words, it will be observed, are not necessary to give meaning to the paper, and neither their presence nor absence can affect its validity. They are, in short, merely superfluous, and may be rejected. Utile per inutile non vitiatur.”

Suber v. Fountain, 259 SE 2d 685 (1979)

“The canon utile per inutile non vitiatur – surplusage does not spoil the remaining part if that is good in itself … is relevant for the verdict complained of was $40,000 civil fine for punitive damages. The jury did not award a civil fine and punitive damages. They awarded a civil fine for punitive damages. Thus, the words civil fine is surplusage as they were used to describe punitive damages which the jury was authorized to award if they found aggravating circumstances. With the surplusage omitted the verdicts not subject to the objection made.”

Edited by Sree Ramya

Approved & Published – Sakshi Raje

Shivani Rani
I am Shivani Rani from Faculty of Law, Aligarh Muslim University,Aligarh pursuing BALLB(Hons.). Criminal law and personal laws of country attracts me the most. I like to read books mostly based on fictin and also like to watch suspense & thriller movies as well as crime thriller web series, in free time. I love to take part in moot court competitions as well as research study work. I am enthusiastic about exploring new places and listening music. I am kind of ambivert person i.e., not so introvert and not so extrovert.