brevi manu (bree-vIman-yoo), adv. [Latin “with a short hand”] Roman & civil law.
1. Directly; by the shortest route.
2. Without a legal warrant; on one’s own authority. • In Roman law, the term referred to the contractual transfer (traditio) of ownership of an item to one who already had physical control of the item. See TRADITIO BREVI MANU; CONSTITUTUM POSSESSORIUM. In Scotland, this phrase usu. signified the performance of an act without the necessity of resorting to the courts.
“Thus, for example, it was anciently the practice in Scotland for an heritable proprietor, on his own authority, to poind his tenant’s moveables for payment of his rent, without applying to any other judge ….Brevi manu in the Roman law is usually applied to a kind of constructive delivery. A thing is said to be transferred by brevi manu tradition, when it has been previously in the buyer’s possession on some other title, as pledge or loan.” William Bell, Bell’s Dictionary and Digest of the Law of Scotland 134 (George Watson ed., 7th ed. 1890).