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The Latin maxim De Minimis Non Curat Lex means the law does not govern trifles or that the law ignores insignificant details specifically the ones that a reasonable person of ordinary temper would not complain about.

In Coward v. Badley (1859) 4 H & N 478, a bystander touched a fireman’s arm to bring his attention to another part of the building which was on fire. The fireman then bought a suit against the bystander for battery however, the Court held that it was a trivial act and would not amount to tort.

The maxim has been applied and upheld in various Indian judgements like, Foods, Fats & Fertilisers Ltd., Vs. Commissioner of C. Ex. Guntur [2011 (22) STR 484] and State of Bihar and Ors. Vs. Harihar Prasad Debuka and Ors [AIR 1989 SC 1119], wherein the Court laid down-

“The checking of documents or the filling in and submission of Forms and returns, detour to a public weigh-bridge and the like may be an inconvenience, and unless they are shown to be unreasonable and not in public interest the court may apply the maxim ‘de minimis non curat lex’.”

However, the exception to this maxim has been laid down in Helford v. Bailey, where X casts and draws net in water and where Y has an exclusive right of fishing. In this case X has committed a tort no matter how trivial it is because the act if repeated has the potential of taking away Y’s right and hence the maxim will not be invoked.