Actio Utilis Law and Legal Definition

Actio utilis means an analogous action founded on utility rather than strict right. It helps to tackle a case when such case is not covered by an existing law and when a legal remedy is available to another case that is analogous to the former. It is especially available to persons who are having an interest less than ownership in property.

In Orleans Navigation Co. v. Mayor, 2 Mart. (o.s.) 10, 33 (La. 1811), the court observed that “according to the principles of the old Roman law, a third person, who had not been a party to the contract derived no right of action therefrom. But according to the constitutions of the Emperors, a third person, in whose favour a donor adds a charge to the gift, has an action to compel the donee to fulfill the intention of the donor. Cod. lib. 8, tit. 55, l. 3, note 18, speciale est in donationibus, contractibus, ut alteri per alterum quaeratur actio. The action of the third party was called actio utilis, the name Roman lawyers gave to actions, which had no other foundation than equity. Quae contra subtilitatem juris, utilitate exigente ex sola aequitate concedebantur, 2 Pothier on Obligations, 50 no. 72”.