Notes and Articles for Law students

User Tools

Site Tools


Ex antecedentibus et consequentibus fit optima interpretatio

From that which, goes before, and from that which follows, is derived the best interpretation.

This maxim applies to the construction to be put upon written instruments, as deeds, contracts, wills, statutes, etc, and may be considered as having a close connection with the maxim, “Benignse faciendae,” etc.

Probably, the best illustration of the maxim will be the following : — Where one seized of a manor and of a tenement in fee simple, and possessed also of a lease for years in the town of “Dale,” by deed granted to another the manor, tenement and all other the lands and tenements which he had in Dale ; it was considered that the term of years would not pass, but only the lands in which the grantor had an estate of inheritance ; the words used in the grant being, enfeoff, give, grant, etc, the manor and all the grantor's other lands and tenements ; habendum, to the grantor and his heirs ; there being an express covenant on the part of the grantor that he was seised in fee of all the said lands, and that he had an estate in fee in all the lands intended to be thereby granted, etc. : that the general words, “ all his other lands,” could not be intended to comprise the leasehold, because that was of a nature different from the lands before mentioned, and general words would not be enlarged, but would be considered with reference to the whole deed. Also, where the predecessor of a bishop had made a lease of his house and the site thereof, and of certain particular closes and demesnes by particular names, and of all other his lands and demesnes ; upon which it was questioned whether an ancient park and copyhold land there should pass ; it was held that neither of them did pass by those latter general words, for that neither the park nor the copyholds could be intended for demesnes, and that in such cases a grant sliould not be construed by any violent construction ; and therefore it was said that “ex preecedentibus et consequentibus optima fiat interpretation” and that “benigne faciendae sunt interpretationes.” So, also, where one levies a fine of a manor to which an advowson is appendant ; cum pertinentiis, the advowson will pass ; but if the advowson were not specially named, or yet, cum pertinentiis, the advowson would not pass.

It is said to be a true rule of construction of written instruments, so to construe them that the sense and meaning of the parties may be collected, “ex antecedentibus et conse- quentibus”, and so that every part of them may be brought into action, in order to collect from the whole one uniform and consistent sense, if that may be done. And so, in this view, recitals, though they form no necessary part of the deed, as such, yet aid in its construction ; and an unqualified recital in a deed will be referred to to determine the extent to which a vendor is bound by the general words of his covenant, where the operative part is insufficient for that purpose. But where the operative part of a deed is express ; as, for instance, where the description in the parcels of the premises to be conveyed is perfect and complete in itself, the subsequent general words will be limited thereto.

2 Inst. 317 ; Plowd. Com. 106 ; Wing. Max. 167 ; Com. Dig. Advowson B. ; Bac. Abr. Grants, 1, 4; Turpine u. Forrequer, 1 Bulst. 99; Win. 93; Skepp. Touch. 76, S6, 87, 253, n. ; Barton v. Fitzgerald, 13 East, 530 ; Doe dan. Meyrick u. Meyrick, 2 Cr. & J. 223 ; Amndell u. Anindell,

1 My. & K. 316 ; Walsh u. Trevanion, 15 Q. B. 751 ; Foley ?;. Parry,

2 My. & K. 138 ; Morrall v. Sutton, 1 Phffl. 536 ; R. v. Poor Law Com., 6 A. & E. 7 ; Hesse v. Stevenson, 3 B. & P. 574 ; Spencer v. Thompson, 6 Ir. Law Rep. 537.

Navigation: Home»Legal Maxims