In Custodia Legis Law and Legal Definition

In custodia legis is a Latin phrase which means “in the custody of the law”. This phrase is used in reference to property taken into the court’s custody during the pendency of litigation over it. For example, the debtor’s car was in custodia legis after the sheriff seized it or the property of a bankrupt can be in custodia legis when it is controlled by a receiver or the trustee acting on behalf of the bankruptcy court. In general, when things are in custodia legis, they cannot be distrained or interfered by a private person.

Usually property held in custodia legis remains in the possession of the law until a court order is issued to distribute the same.

A doctrine of maritime law is sometimes called as custodia legis rule. It means that if a vessel is seized under legal process, it cannot be subject to maritime liens. This is also termed as in legal custody.