De minimus (Latin: minimal things) is a legal doctrine related to a general principle in law that although an action may meet the definition of an element of a crime, tort, or breach of contract, the law should be applied as liberally as possible to do justice rather than enforcing the absolute letter of the law. The doctrine is often expressed as de minimis non curat lex or "the law does not concern itself with trifles".

For example:

  • A defendant is charged with assault causing bodily harm, but the harm is a scratch on the hand that heals quickly. Although this "harm" establishes an element of the offence and the defendant can be convicted of the offence, the minimal harm should be considered in sentencing and a sentence on the low side of the range is proper.
  • In copyright law, making a small change to a work that is in the public domain does not give rise to a new copyright. For example, legal decisions are automatically in the public domain. Making gramatical and spelling corrections to such decisions for publication does not give rise to a copyright.
  • Under income tax law, although any amount of cash is subject to tax, benefits of minimum value (free coffee, allowing use of office supplies or the photocopier for personal use, etc.) are not taxable to the employee.

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