ab initio

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Ab Initio

[Latin, From the beginning; from the first act; from the inception.] An agreement is said to be "void ab initio" if it has at no time had any legal validity. A party may be said to be a trespasser, an estate said to be good, an agreement or deed said to be void, or a marriage or act said to be unlawful, ab initio. Contrasted in this sense with ex post facto, or with postea.

The illegality of the conduct or the revelation of the real facts makes the entire situation illegal ab initio (from the beginning), not just from the time the wrongful behavior occurs. A person who enters property under the authority of law but who then by misconduct abuses his or her right to be on the property is considered a trespasser ab initio. If a sheriff enters property under the authority of a court order requiring him to seize a valuable painting, but instead he takes an expensive marble sculpture, he would be a trespasser from the beginning. Since the officer abused his authority, a court would presume that he intended from the outset to use that authority as a cloak from under which to enter the property for a wrongful purpose. This theory, used to correct abuses by public officers, has largely fallen into disuse.

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

ab initio

prep. lawyer Latin for "from the start," as "it was legal ab initio."

Copyright © 1981-2005 by Gerald N. Hill and Kathleen T. Hill. All Right reserved.

ab initio

‘from the beginning’.
Collins Dictionary of Law © W.J. Stewart, 2006

AB INITIO, from the beginning.
     2. When a man enters upon lands or into the house of another by authority of law, and afterwards abuses that authority, he becomes a trespasser ab initio. Bac. Ab. Trespass, B.; 8 Coke, 146 2 Bl. Rep. 1218 Clayt. 44. And if an officer neglect to remove goods attached within a reasonable time and continue in possession, his entry becomes a trespass ab initio. 2 Bl. Rep. 1218. See also as to other cases, 2 Stra. 717 1 H. Bl. 13 11 East, 395 2 Camp. 115, 2 Johns. 191; 10 Johns. 253; ibid. 369.
     3. But in case of an authority in fact, to enter, an abuse of such authority will not, in general, subject the party to an action of trespass, Lane, 90 ; Bae. Ab. Trespass, B ; 2 T. It. 166. See generally 1 Chit. Pl. 146. 169. 180.

A Law Dictionary, Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States. By John Bouvier. Published 1856.
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