De minimis
De minimis is a Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 expression meaning about minimal things, normally in the locutions de minimis non curat praetor
Praetor was a title granted by the government of Ancient Rome to men acting in one of two official capacities: the commander of an army, usually in the field, or the named commander before mustering the army; and an elected magistratus assigned varied duties...

("The praetor does not concern himself with trifles") or de minimis non curat lex ("The law does not concern itself with trifles").

In risk assessment
Risk assessment
Risk assessment is a step in a risk management procedure. Risk assessment is the determination of quantitative or qualitative value of risk related to a concrete situation and a recognized threat...

 it refers to a level of risk that is too small to be concerned with. Some refer to this as a "virtually safe" level.

Examples of application of the de minimis rule

In criminology
Criminology is the scientific study of the nature, extent, causes, and control of criminal behavior in both the individual and in society...

, the de minimis or minimalist approach is an addition to a general harm principle
Harm principle
The harm principle holds that the actions of individuals should only be limited to prevent harm to other individuals. John Stuart Mill first articulated this principle in On Liberty, where he argued that "the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized...

. The general harm principle fails to consider the possibility of other sanctions to prevent harm, and the effectiveness of criminalization
Criminalization or criminalisation, in criminology, is "the process by which behaviors and individuals are transformed into crime and criminals". Previously legal acts may be transformed into crimes by legislation or judicial decision...

 as a chosen option. Those other sanctions include civil courts, laws of tort
A tort, in common law jurisdictions, is a wrong that involves a breach of a civil duty owed to someone else. It is differentiated from a crime, which involves a breach of a duty owed to society in general...

 and regulation
Regulation is administrative legislation that constitutes or constrains rights and allocates responsibilities. It can be distinguished from primary legislation on the one hand and judge-made law on the other...

. Having criminal remedies in place is seen as a "last resort" since such actions often infringe personal liberties – incarceration
Incarceration is the detention of a person in prison, typically as punishment for a crime .People are most commonly incarcerated upon suspicion or conviction of committing a crime, and different jurisdictions have differing laws governing the function of incarceration within a larger system of...

, for example, prevents the freedom of movement. In this sense, law making that places a greater emphasis on human rights
Human rights
Human rights are "commonly understood as inalienable fundamental rights to which a person is inherently entitled simply because she or he is a human being." Human rights are thus conceived as universal and egalitarian . These rights may exist as natural rights or as legal rights, in both national...

, such as the European Convention on Human Rights
European Convention on Human Rights
The Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms is an international treaty to protect human rights and fundamental freedoms in Europe. Drafted in 1950 by the then newly formed Council of Europe, the convention entered into force on 3 September 1953...

 fall into the de minimis category. Most crimes of direct actions (murder
Murder is the unlawful killing, with malice aforethought, of another human being, and generally this state of mind distinguishes murder from other forms of unlawful homicide...

, rape
Rape is a type of sexual assault usually involving sexual intercourse, which is initiated by one or more persons against another person without that person's consent. The act may be carried out by physical force, coercion, abuse of authority or with a person who is incapable of valid consent. The...

, assault
In law, assault is a crime causing a victim to fear violence. The term is often confused with battery, which involves physical contact. The specific meaning of assault varies between countries, but can refer to an act that causes another to apprehend immediate and personal violence, or in the more...

, for example) are generally not affected by such a stance, but it does require greater justification in less clear cases.

Courts will occasionally not uphold a copyright
Copyright is a legal concept, enacted by most governments, giving the creator of an original work exclusive rights to it, usually for a limited time...

 on modified public domain
Public domain
Works are in the public domain if the intellectual property rights have expired, if the intellectual property rights are forfeited, or if they are not covered by intellectual property rights at all...

 material if the changes are deemed to be "de minimis". Similarly, courts have dismissed copyright infringement
Copyright infringement
Copyright infringement is the unauthorized or prohibited use of works under copyright, infringing the copyright holder's exclusive rights, such as the right to reproduce or perform the copyrighted work, or to make derivative works.- "Piracy" :...

 cases on the grounds that the alleged infringer's use of the copyrighted work (such as sampling
Sampling (music)
In music, sampling is the act of taking a portion, or sample, of one sound recording and reusing it as an instrument or a different sound recording of a song or piece. Sampling was originally developed by experimental musicians working with musique concrète and electroacoustic music, who physically...

) was so insignificant as to be "de minimis". However, this ruling, in Bridgeport Music, Inc. v. Dimension Films
Bridgeport Music, Inc. v. Dimension Films
Bridgeport Music, Inc. v. Dimension Films, 410 F.3d 792 , is a court case that has proved important in defining American copyright law for recorded music. The case centered on N.W.A.’s song “100 Miles and Runnin’” and Funkadelic's “Get Off Your Ass and Jam.” Essentially, N.W.A...

, was overturned on appeal and the appeals court explicitly declined to recognize a de minimis standard for digital sampling.

This also has application in the field of auditing and may refer to situations of a low audit risk. It can be verified in ASA 1.

Under U.S. tax rules
Taxation in the United States
The United States is a federal republic with autonomous state and local governments. Taxes are imposed in the United States at each of these levels. These include taxes on income, property, sales, imports, payroll, estates and gifts, as well as various fees.Taxes are imposed on net income of...

, the de minimis rule governs the treatment of small amounts of market discount. Under the rule, if a bond is purchased with a small amount of market discount (an amount less than 0.25% of the face value of a bond times the number of complete years between the bond’s acquisition date and its maturity date) the market discount is considered to be zero. If the market discount is less than the de minimis amount, the discount on the bond
Bond (finance)
In finance, a bond is a debt security, in which the authorized issuer owes the holders a debt and, depending on the terms of the bond, is obliged to pay interest to use and/or to repay the principal at a later date, termed maturity...

 is generally treated as a capital gain
Capital gain
A capital gain is a profit that results from investments into a capital asset, such as stocks, bonds or real estate, which exceeds the purchase price. It is the difference between a higher selling price and a lower purchase price, resulting in a financial gain for the investor...

 upon disposition or redemption rather than as ordinary income
Ordinary income
Under the United States Internal Revenue Code, the type of income is defined by its character. Ordinary income is usually characterized as income other than capital gain...

. Under IRS guidelines, the de minimis rule can also apply to any benefit, property, or service provided to an employee that has so little value that reporting for it would be unreasonable or administratively impracticable; for example, use of a company photocopier to copy personal documents – see de minimis fringe benefit
De minimis fringe benefit
De Minimis Fringe Benefits are minimal or smallish perks provided by an employer; de minimis is legal Latin for "minimal".-Definition:...

. Cash
In common language cash refers to money in the physical form of currency, such as banknotes and coins.In bookkeeping and finance, cash refers to current assets comprising currency or currency equivalents that can be accessed immediately or near-immediately...

 is not excludable, regardless of the amount.

The de minimis rule in American drug law
Drug prohibition law
Drug prohibition law is prohibition-based law by which governments prohibit, except under licence, the production, supply, and possession of many, but not all, substances which are recognised as drugs, and which corresponds to international treaty commitments in the Single Convention on Narcotic...

 requires a usable quantity of the substance in question before charges can be brought, known as the minority rule.

In Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

, de minimis is often used as a standard of whether a criminal offence is made out at a preliminary stage. For a charge of second degree murder, the test being: "could the jury reasonably conclude that accused actions were a contributing cause, beyond de minimis, of the victim's death."

Under European Union competition law
European Union competition law
European Union competition law arose out of the desire to ensure that the efforts of government could not be distorted by corporations abusing their market power. Hence under the treaties are provisions to ensure that free competition prevails, rather than cartels and monopolies sharing out markets...

 some agreements infringing Article 101(1) of the TFEU (formerly Article 81(1) of the EC Treaty
Treaties of the European Union
The Treaties of the European Union are a set of international treaties between the European Union member states which sets out the EU's constitutional basis. They establish the various EU institutions together with their remit, procedures and objectives...

) are considered to be "de minimis" and therefore accepted. Horizontal agreement, that is one between competitors, will usually be de minimis where the parties’ market share is 10% or less, and a vertical agreement, between undertakings operating at different levels of the market, where it is 15% or less.

The European Union de minimis "state aid" regulation allows for aid of up to €200,000 to be provided from public funds to any business
A business is an organization engaged in the trade of goods, services, or both to consumers. Businesses are predominant in capitalist economies, where most of them are privately owned and administered to earn profit to increase the wealth of their owners. Businesses may also be not-for-profit...

 enterprise over a period of three years.

See also

  • List of Latin phrases
  • Small claims court
    Small claims court
    Small-claims courts have limited jurisdiction to hear civil cases between private litigants. Courts authorized to try small claims may also have other judicial functions, and the name by which such a court is known varies by jurisdiction; it may be known as a county or magistrate's court...

    , for cases that are small but not below the law
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