De Minimis

law, taxation, customs

Latin expression meaning “about minimum things.” Specifically, a shortened form of de minimis non curat lex , meaning “the law does not bother (concern) itself with trifles,” or de minimis non curat praetor, meaning “magistrates do not bother (concern) themselves with trifles.” In general, de minimis describes “minimal things” that do not interest the courts.


In law, de minimis refers to a minimal or trifling injury to a person, property or rights that does not justify the time and trouble of a court’s time (unworthy of the law’s attention).

insurance, risk assessment

In risk assessment, de minimis refers to a risk that is so small as to be considered insignificant.

copyright law

In copyright law, de minimis refers to changes that are so small as to be insignificant. For example, attempting to claim copyright to a public domain work merely by correcting spelling errors or making very minor changes.


In customs law, de minimis rules figure prominently in classification of goods, rules of origin and payments of duties and taxes.

Example 1: Ingredients which are significant in terms of quantity or function must be considered in determining classification, whereas ingredients that are insignificant in quantity or function may be ignored.

Example 2: “Chapter 405: De Minimis” of the NAFTA Rules of Origin cover certain rules of origin. These rules (in short), establish that in determining the country of origin, a component value of seven percent or less of non-originating material(s) is de minimis , or may be ignored.

Example 3: In certain circumstances, the customs authority of a country may not require payment of a duty or tax if the amount due is less than what they consider to be worthwhile collecting.

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