Legal Dictionary

de minimis

Definition of de minimis


    From Latin, de + minimis, ablative of minimus ("smallest, least")


de minimis

  1. Concerning things that are so minor as to be negligible, trivial or trifling. Often used to describe exemptions in government rules and regulations.

    The tax is not payable on amounts below the de minimis limit of 100 per year.
    The de minimis rules on import duty mean that alcohol for personal consumption is exempt from any charge.
  2. (law) beneath judicial notice

See also


  • Alphagram: deiiimmns
  • minimised

Further reading

De minimis is a Latin expression meaning about minimal things, normally in the locutions de minimis non curat praetor ("the praetor (government official) does not concern himself with trifles") or de minimis non curat lex ("the law does not concern itself with trifles").

In risk assessment 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

Courts will occasionally not uphold a copyright on modified public domain material if the changes are deemed to be "de minimis". Similarly, courts have dismissed copyright infringement cases on the grounds that the alleged infringer's use of the copyrighted work (such as sampling) was so insignificant as to be "de minimis". However, this ruling, in Bridgeport Music, Inc. v. Dimension Films, was overturned on appeal and the appeals court explicitly declined to recognize a de minimis standard for digital sampling.

Under U.S. tax rules, 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 is generally treated as a capital gain upon disposition or redemption rather than as ordinary income.

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. Cash is not excludable, regardless of the amount.

In Canada, de minimis is often used as a standard of whether a criminal offense 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 victims death.

Under European Community Competition Law some agreements infringing Article 81(1) of the EC Treaty 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 Community de minimis "state aid" regulation allows for aid of up to 200,000 euros to be provided from public funds to any enterprise over a period of three years.


  1. Wiktionary. Published under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.


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