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The World Law Dictionary Project

English may be the common language of the world, but the Common Law is not the common law of the world

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e.g. principle, consideration, jurisdiction
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ex officio adjective

if something is ex officio then it is because of a person's or group's position or status
She is an ex officio member of the state board of education.

Hello. I'm Robin with TransLegal's Lesson of the Week.

Today we're going to talk about ex officio which is a Latin phrase that literally means from office or by virtue of one's office.

This refers to powers that an officer may exercise which are not specifically given to that person but are implied in that office. We talk about ex officio judges or judges who serve in a particular capacity, for instance, on some sort of board or commission because the law requires a certain judge to serve and not because he or she was specifically selected for that position.

We also talk about ex officio services which are services that are deemed to be included in a certain office and that the officer is obligated to perform.

We hear this phrase in the sentence: The treasurer shall serve on the Board as a non-voting ex officio member of the Board; or The Attorney General enjoys ex officio membership on the Sentencing Commission; or even Justice Roberts is Chancellor of the Smithsonian Institution, one of his ex officio jobs as Chief Justice.

In some countries, for example Sweden, ex officio is used to mean on one's own motion. However, this is not the meaning of this Latin phrase when used in English. The Latin phrase that is used to express that concept in English is sua sponte. So, for instance, we would say the judge dismissed the case sua sponte and not on motion of one of the parties.

So I hope that when you're speaking English you will not confuse these two phrases.

That's all for today. Thank you for listening. I hope this was useful to you. Please remember leave all comments in the box below. We enjoy your comments. Thank you.

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