McGeorge Adjunct Professor Chris Micheli








While California statutes don’t provide general canons of statutory construction or interpretation, we can look at the California Civil Code for the Maxims of Jurisprudence. They are found in Division 4, Part 4 of the California Civil Code. What are these maxims? A “maxim” is generally defined as a short, pithy statement expressing a general truth or rule of conduct.

I think, indeed, they are often short, pithy statements. Part 4 was primarily enacted in 1872. A few of these maxims were added in 1965, but the bulk of them were placed in statute in 1872. There are 38 separate code sections. In Civil Code Section 3509, it explains that these Maxims of Jurisprudence, as set forth, are intended not to qualify any of the foregoing provisions of this Code, but to aid in their just application. Below is a brief summary of some of the jurisprudential maxims that are in California Civil Code:

“When the reason of a rule ceases, so should the rule itself.

Where the reason is the same, the rule should be the same.

One must not change his purpose to the injury of another.

Anyone may waive the advantage of a law intended solely for his benefit. But a law established for a public reason cannot be contravened by a private agreement.

One must so use his own rights as not to infringe upon the rights of another.

He who consents to an act is not wronged by it.

Acquiescence in error takes away the right of objecting to it.

No one can take advantage of his own wrong.

He who has fraudulently dispossessed himself of a thing may be treated as if he still had possession.

He who can and does not forbid that which is done on his behalf, is deemed to have bidden it. No one should suffer by the act of another.

He who takes the benefit must bear the burden.”

You can find a full transcript of today’s podcast, including the remaining maxims, here.