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principle noun

a basic truth or assumption
The Commission has always followed the principle that the public interest is best served when regulatory affairs are open to the fullest extent possible.
General legal English

Definitions & Examples

something in principle is possible, although it has not yet been tried or finalised
The parties have reached an agreement in principle.
a basic rule or belief about what is morally correct behaviour
The reasons why torture is wrong can be divided into reasons of pure principle and reasons based on the bad consequences of torture.

Phrase Bank

This is based on the principle of equality before the law.
They are applying sensible principles of good industrial relations rather than the strict law of contract.
A recent decision of the European Court of Justice has established the principle that a Member State may be liable in damages to persons harmed as a result of its failure to implement a Community directive.
We work on the principle that you should only pay for the services you need.
It was accepted in principle that an employee should be entitled to a statutory reward for his employer's successful exploitation of the product of his inventive labours.
It is a general principle of English law that the decisions of inferior tribunals (such as social security appeal tribunals, industrial tribunals, or immigration appeal tribunals) should be the subject of appeal to the higher courts.
The application of the principles of judicial review vary according to the circumstances.
Activities shall be deemed lawful by reference to a set of principles.
This is consistent with the principles enunciated by Lord Morris in Esso.
We see a significant departure from the principle of absolute sovereignty over domestic matters.

Common Mistakes

Principal and principle are often confused as they have the same pronunciation, but have different meanings. Principle which means doctrine, standard, rule, or law, is nearly always a noun: A principle of management is to treat your employees as you want them to treat your customers.
On the other hand, principal, which means primary, chief, or most important, is both a noun and an adjective, though usually an adjective in non-legal usage: A faulty gasket was the principal reason for the engine's failure.
In general usage, principal refers to a person who plays an important role or holds a high position. In legal and financial English, however, principal is often a noun (from principal person). In the law of agency, the principal is the one on whose behalf the agent acts: She attended the meeting as the agent of a principal who wished to remain anonymous.
In banking the principal (sum) is money invested or borrowed on which interest is paid: The borrower was only able to make the minimum payment, which covered the interest but did not reduce the principal.