Scilicet, abbreviated SS. or ss. or sc., sometimes appears in the venue section of a notarial certificate, record, affidavit, pleading or another legal document.
It originates from the Latin words scire “to know”, and licet from licere “it is permitted; you may know”. It is synonymous with “to wit; namely; that is to say; in particular”.
Scilicet is an adverb preceding additional information that helps give more specific details or an explanation, clarification, omitted word, list or restriction of previously stated more general or ambiguous information.
It cannot be used to state anything contrary or repugnant, or to increase or diminish the preceding general statement, and, if so, may be struck as void surplusage.
It is a rarely used word, archaic in origin, and is occasionally used, but not required, to indicate a more exact location or venue of a notarial act. The first known use was in Middle English in the 14th century.
Scilicet Example in Venue
For example, a state is a general location but can be made more specific by adding further location details, such as the county or parish (in Louisiana).
State of Colorado }
. } ss.
El Paso County }
Or, a notarial certificate might rarely include the city or town, such as:
State of Colorado }
El Paso County } ss.
City/town of __________ }
The venue provides evidence of where the document was notarized and that the notary acted within his/her authorized geographic jurisdiction.
Notaries should refer to their state notary laws and notary handbooks for any additional information on scilicet.
The Colorado Notary Handbook states “Note “ss” is archaic, and actually has no meaning on a notarial certificate. It is a survival from medieval documents. Its original meaning is not known for certain, but it was probably clerical shorthand for the Latin “scilicet,” meaning “to wit.”
Do not confuse SS as a request for a Social Security Number, abbreviated as SSN.
Reason for Scilicet
Citation: The scilicet was introduced in the declaration to state the place, or venue, to avoid difficulty under ancient law that a jury to try the cause must be summoned from the stated venue. Duyckinck v. Clinton Mutual Insurance Co., 23 N.J.L. 279, 1852.
When the jury system began in England, jurors were witnesses with knowledge of the facts in the case. They were from the neighborhood where the alleged event took place. So, it was required to state the location where each factual event occurred. Later, jurors became impartial judges of the facts, not witnesses, and cases could be tried in any court with jurisdiction over the defendant.
Scilicet Section Symbol §
Scilicet is also indicated with the section symbol § in the caption, indicating a specific section of a document or legal code. The symbol § is part of the extended ASCII character set.
Ecclesiastical Documents ss
In some ecclesiastical documents, ss is used as an abbreviation for the Latin subscripsi, meaning written, subscribed or signed below.
Videlicet, abbreviated viz., from Latin videre licet “it is permitted to see” is also used to indicate a detailed description of something stated before.
The American and English Encyclopædia of Law states that in legal papers, scilicet has the same meaning and effect as videlicet.
Scilicet Research Sources
Reference book: The Encyclopaedia of Pleading and Practice, Volume 19, published 1900, section Scilicet or Videlicet by Henry Stephen
Citations: Some court cases involving scilicet or videlicet.
Brown, See Stukeley v. Butler, Hob .171
Clark V. Employers’ Liability Assur. Co. 72 Vt. 458, 48 Atl. 639
Com. v. Quinlan, 153 Mass. 483, 27 N.E. 8
Dicken v. Smith, I Litt. (Ky) 210
Gleason v. McVicker, 7 Cow. (N.Y.) 43
Guschnor v. Keith, 9 Ill. App. 416
Hastings v. Lovering, 2 Pick. (Mass.) 214
Hayman v. Rogers, I Stra. 233
Rowell v. Bruce, 5 N.H. 381
State v. Brown, 51 Conn. I
Sullivan v. State, 67 Miss. 346, 7 South. 275
U.S. v. Quincy, 6 Pet. (U.S.) 467