RunSensible’s Legal Dictionary

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Legal Dictionary

Ab Initio

“Ab initio” is a Latin term that means “from the beginning” or “from the outset.” In the context of law, it signifies that a contract or action is void from the beginning or inception. When a contract, statute, or legal provision is said to be void ab initio, it means that it is treated as if it never existed or had any legal effect.
For example, if a contract is found to be illegal, against public policy, or entered into under fraudulent circumstances, a court may declare it void ab initio. Meaning that the contract is null and void from the beginning, and the parties are released from their obligations as if the contract never existed.
In some cases, if a law or regulation is determined to be unconstitutional or invalid, a court may declare it void ab initio. This decision essentially erases the law from the legal landscape as if it were never enacted.
“Void ab initio” is typically contrasted with “voidable” in futuro, such documents which become void only as of the date of a certain event or of the judicial declaration to that effect. For instance, the termination of a contract only operates in futuro.
Void ab initio is a powerful legal concept allowing the legal system to disregard actions or agreements that are fundamentally flawed or contrary to law or public policy. In general, the term is versatile and can be applied in various fields where the emphasis is on starting from the very beginning or having an effect from the inception of a process, action, or legal principle.

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