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De bene esse

Latin phrase, roughly translating as “for what it’s worth”. Evidence admitted “de bene esse” is done so on a provisional basis, without determining its admissibility. This is usually done either to ensure relevant evidence is not lost or overlooked, or for the purpose of assessing its relevance, value or admissibility in the first place.

By way of illustration, the expression has been emphasised in the following quotation from the judgment of Fancourt J in Aldford House Freehold Ltd v Grosvenor (Mayfair) Estate  [2018] EWHC 3430 (Ch)[2019] 1 WLR 1489, para 70:

“70. At the start of the next day of the hearing, Mr Johnson asked me to look at a further clip of documents on the basis of which he wished to amend his initial answer and provide a fuller and more accurate answer. The documents were e-mail exchanges between Société Générale Private Banking (Bahamas) Ltd, Mr Mikailian and Ms McNeil dated between 24 and 29 June 2015, with attached documents. Mr Jourdan objected to my admitting the further documents in evidence, on the basis that they were being sought to be introduced far too late. I decided to read them de bene esse and consider in my judgment whether to admit them in evidence.”

Another illustration may be found in the judgment of Lord Hobhouse of Woodborough in R v Mirza [2004] UKHL 2; [2004] 1 AC 1118, para 146: 

“Thus a jury note or letter will, save in exceptional circumstances, always be looked at by the trial judge and, if there is an appeal, by the Court of Appeal (the legal expression is de bene esse—i e for what it is worth); its existence and character will normally be disclosed to the parties’ counsel and submissions as to its significance, and/or responded to, be invited.”