Verba debent intelligi cum effectu

Verba debent intelligi cum effectu

Literal Meaning

Words ought to be understood with effect.

Explanation & Origin

This maxim means that the words ought to be understood with effect so that they may have effect.

According to Wharton’s concise dictionary verba debent intelligi cum effectu means words ought to be read or understood as of some effect , so that the matter (deed , contract , etc., in which words are used) may rather be of avail than perish.

Words ought to be understood with effect , that a thing may rather be preserved than destroyed.

The construction of deeds shall be made liberally that the subject matter may rather prevail than perish.

Construction must in all cases be reasonable , liberal and favourable.


For the words of contract , executed by both parties , are to be considered as the words of them bot ; for , though delivered as the words of one party , yet they are not his words only , but the other party has given his consent to every one of them.

Case Reference

Abhey Singh vs Birbal Dass And Another [(2014) 6 SCC 699]

This case it was a view of the clear legal position, which emerges from the legislative intention and ratio of the judgements of aforementioned cases, the conclusions reached by the learned courts below, therefore, cannot be endorsed and the impugned decrees passed in favour of the respondent cannot be upheld. Following the principles of verba debent intelligi cum effectu (words ought to be understood with effect) and lex est judicum tutissimus ductor (the law is the safest guide for judges), it is held that the land in Khasra No.672 (1 K 5 M) was not `agricultural land’ on 26.5.1980 when it was sold and because of this reason, this piece of land was not preemptible under Section 4 of the Act of 1913.

Edited by Vigneshwar Ramasubramania

Approved & Published – Sakshi Raje

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