Ab Initio Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Ab Initio, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Ab Initio?

prep. Latin phrase meaning “from the start”; literal meaning being something done ‘from scratch’. In legal parlance it stands from: 1.) if any legal agreement is void ab initio then it stands null and void from the very beginning of its intended existence and not just from the instant its declared as void. 2.) if a person enters onto someone’s private property (real estate) by authority of law but later maltreats that authority then he becomes a trespasser ab initio.

History and Meaning of Ab Initio

Ab Initio is a Latin phrase that means "from the start" or "from scratch." In legal terms, it refers to something that is null and void from the beginning of its existence and not just from the moment it is declared void. This means that if an agreement is deemed to be void ab initio, it is as if the agreement never existed.

Examples of Ab Initio

  1. A marriage that was entered into under false pretenses may be deemed void ab initio, meaning that the parties were never legally married.
  2. If a person is appointed as an executor of a will but is later found to be ineligible, their appointment can be declared void ab initio.
  3. If a contract is entered into by a person who lacks the legal capacity to do so, it may be declared void ab initio.

Legal Terms Similar to Ab Initio

  1. Ex nunc - this Latin phrase means "from now on" and is the opposite of ab initio. If something is declared void ex nunc, it is only considered void from that point forward rather than from the beginning.
  2. Voidable - something that is voidable is not automatically null and void but can be declared as such if certain conditions are met.
  3. Unenforceable - a contract that is unenforceable is one that is technically valid but cannot be enforced due to some legal technicality.