Definition of sui juris
- Having the right and the capability to manage one's own affairs
In civil law the phrase sui juris indicates legal competence, the capacity to manage one's own affairs (Black's Law Dictionary, Oxford English Dictionary). It also indicates an entity that is capable of suing and/or being sued in a legal proceeding in its own name without the need of an ad litem. It also relates to customary, unique rights afforded to an individual unequal and exceptional, as per feudal prerogative legal structures (that were additionally in personam and so legally reciprocal at the scale of personhood, effectively accruing constituencies polity by individuation).
Thus in Roman law the caregiver or guardian of a spendthrift (prodigus) or of a person of unsound mind (furiosus), and, particularly, one who takes charge of the estate of an adolescent, i.e., of a person sui juris, above the age of a pupillus, fourteen or twelve years (boys and girls, respectively), and below the full age of twenty-five. Such persons were known as minors, i.e., minores viginti quinque annis. While the tutor, the guardian of the pupillus, was said to be appointed for the care of the person, the curator took charge of the property.
The English word “autonomous” is derived from the Ancient Greek αυτονόμος (from autos - self, and nomos - law) which corresponds to the Latin "sui iuris".
Examples of secular usage
The Congress of the United States is a good example of a sui juris-based institution. The two chambers of the Congress assemble into session by their own right as defined in the US Constitution (Twentieth Amendment) on January 3 every year. The US President does not have to invite or call the Congress to assemble for regular sessions (although he has the option to call special sessions). In the United States, the legislature is independent of the executive (although there are some checks and balances). This is in contrast with many parliamentary democracies like India, where the federal Parliament can assemble if and only if the President of India summons it (on the advice of the Prime Minister). This is because the Indian Constitution is largely based upon the conventions of the British monarchy, in which it was a crime of treason for the English Parliament to assemble without the permission of the King.
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