The Latin term arguendo is a legal term that means “for the sake of argument.” When arguing a point in court, or in an academic setting, using the phrase “assuming, arguendo, that …” allows the individual to examine certain conclusions based on disputed facts, without making an admission that those facts are true.
This might occur, for example, when an attorney is defending a paramedic who took extraordinary action in order to save someone’s life, but is now being sued because he acted outside his scope of practice. The attorney might say something like “assuming, arguendo, that the defendant acted beyond his scope of practice, the fact that he saved the plaintiff’s life justifies his actions.” To explore this concept, consider the following arguendo definition.
Definition of Arguendo
- Latin for “in the course of argument,” or “for the sake of argument.”
1817 Courtroom Latin < Medieval Latin arguendum (“to argue”)
What is Arguendo
Using the Latin term arguendo allows a party to discuss certain facts hypothetically, exploring assumptions or probable conclusions without admitting that those facts are true. For example, in a civil lawsuit, the plaintiff might argue, “assuming, arguendo, that requiring the defendant to reimburse the plaintiff retroactively would set a precedent that would seriously harm the retailer’s business, that fact does not relieve the defendant of his legal obligations.”
In a civil lawsuit over a contract dispute, the defendant’s attorney might argue, “assuming, arguendo, that the payment was delayed due to a bank error, the defendant is still not liable under the terms of the contract.”
In this example, the attorney makes a hypothetical assumption that the plaintiff’s argument is right, while still proving that the defendant should win the case anyway.
Arguendo in Appeals
In the U.S. legal system, the term arguendo is commonly employed in appeals briefs and other important litigation documents. When a case is submitted to an appellate court, there is rarely a court hearing, rather the parties submit briefs, which are legal documents that discuss in detail the facts of the case that are in dispute, and the reasons of law that they feel the decision of the trial court is in error. The judge of the appeals court then reviews the briefs submitted by all parties involved, as well as other trial documents, to reach a decision.
It is not uncommon for an appellate court judge to ask the attorneys representing the parties to discuss what the effects of a different set of assumed facts, for the sake of argument, might be. This is sometimes helpful in determining whether a different set of facts might change the scope of the court’s decision.
Arguendo in Education
The term arguendo is also commonly used in education, as law students learn the meaning of, and how to use, a long list of Latin legal terms. The term arguendo is a short and concise way to say the point is being discussed for the sake of argument only, but should only be used in a setting where everyone present understands the term. This Latin term means nothing to most lay people. Because of this, when making an argument before a jury, or in writing for non-legal readers, it is a good idea to use the English phrase, “for the sake of argument” instead.
Related Legal Terms and Issues
- Civil Lawsuit – A lawsuit brought about in court when one person claims to have suffered a loss due to the actions of another person.
- Defendant – A party against whom a lawsuit has been filed in civil court, or who has been accused of, or charged with, a crime or offense.
- Plaintiff – A person who brings a legal action against another person or entity, such as in a civil lawsuit, or criminal proceedings.