In law, a non liquet (commonly known as "lacuna in the law") is a situation where there is no applicable law. Non liquet translates into English from Latin as "it is not clear". According to Cicero, the term was applied during the Roman Republic to a verdict of "not proven" where the guilt or innocence of the accused was "not clear".
Loopholes are distinct from lacunae, although the two terms are often used interchangeably. In a loophole, a law addressing a certain issue exists, but can be legally circumvented due to a technical defect in the law. A lacuna, on the other hand, is a situation whereby no law exists in the first place to address that particular issue.
- Black's Law Dictionary (8th ed. 2004)
- See Charton T. Lewis, A Latin Dictionary, liqueo and Cic. Clu. 18.76. Deinde homines sapientes et ex vetere illa disciplina iudiciorum, qui neque absolvere hominem nocentissimum possent, neque eum de quo esset orta suspicio pecunia oppugnatum, re illa incognita, primo condemnare vellent, non liquere dixerunt.