Quo warranto

Quo warranto

"Quo warranto" (Medieval Latin for "by what warrant?") is one of the prerogative writs, that requires the person to whom it is directed to show what authority he has for exercising some right or power (or "franchise") he claims to hold.


Quo Warranto had its origins in an attempt by King Edward I of England to investigate and recover royal lands, rights, and franchises in England, in particular those lost during the reign of his father, King Henry III of England. From 1278 to 1294, Edward dispatched justices throughout the Kingdom of England to inquire “by what warrant” English lords held their lands and exercised their jurisdictions (often the right to hold a court and collect its profits). Initially, the justices demanded written proof in the form of charters, but resistance and the unrecorded nature of many grants forced Edward to accept those rights peacefully exercised since 1189. Later, Quo Warranto functioned as a court order (or "writ") to show proof of authority; for example, demanding that someone acting as the sheriff prove that the king had actually appointed him to that office (literally, "By whose warrant are you the sheriff?").

"Quo warranto" today

In the United States today, "quo warranto" usually arises in a civil case as a plaintiff's claim (and thus a "cause of action" instead of a writ) that some governmental or corporate official was not validly elected to that office or is wrongfully exercising powers beyond (or "ultra vires") those authorized by statute or by the corporation's charter.

In some jurisdictions which have enacted judicial review statutes, such as Queensland, the prerogative writ of quo warranto has been abolished. [ [http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/qld/consol_act/jra1991158/s42.html Sn 42 Abolition of quo warranto] , "Judicial Review Act 1991", Queensland Consolidated Acts]

ee also

* Quia Emptores



* Michael Prestwich, "Edward I" (London: Methuen, 1988, updated edition Yale University Press, 1997 ISBN 0-300-07209-0)
* Michael Prestwich, "The Three Edwards: War and State in England 1272-1377" (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1980, reprinted Routledge 1996) ISBN 0-415-05133-9
* Donald W. Sutherland, "Quo Warranto Proceedings in the Reign of Edward I, 1278-1294" (Oxford; Clarendon Press, 1963)

External links

* [http://www.mobar.org/handbook/quowarranto.htm Missouri Bar Newsjournalist Handbook on the Law and Courts]

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • quo warranto — quo war·ran·to / kwō wə ran tō, rän / n [Medieval Latin, by what warrant; from the wording of the writ] 1: an extraordinary writ requiring a person or corporation to show by what right or authority a public office or franchise is held or… …   Law dictionary

  • Quo warranto — Quo war*ran to (kw[=o] w[o^]r*r[a^]n t[ o]). [So called from the Law L. words quo warranto (by what authority), in the original Latin form of the writ. See {Which}, and {Warrant}.] (Law) A writ brought before a proper tribunal, to inquire by what …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • quo warranto — [kwō′ wə ran′tō, kwō′ wərän′tō] n. pl. quo warrantos [ML, by what warrant < L quo, abl. of qui, who, which + ML warrantus, warrant] 1. Historical a writ ordering a person to show by what right he exercises an office, franchise, or privilege 2 …   English World dictionary

  • quo warranto — from M.L., lit. by what warrant …   Etymology dictionary

  • quo warranto — /kwow waraentow/ In old English practice, a writ in the nature of a writ of right for the king, against him who claimed or usurped any office, franchise, or liberty, to inquire by what authority he supported his claim, in order to determine the… …   Black's law dictionary

  • quo warranto — noun Etymology: Middle English quo waranto, from Medieval Latin quo warranto by what warrant; from the wording of the writ Date: 15th century 1. a. an English writ formerly requiring a person to show by what authority he exercises a public office …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • quo warranto — /kwoh waw ran toh, wo /, Law. 1. (formerly, in England) a writ calling upon a person to show by what authority he or she claims an office, franchise, or liberty. 2. (in England and the U.S.) a trial, hearing, or other legal proceeding initiated… …   Universalium

  • quo warranto — Literally, by what authority. A high prerogative writ at common law. A writ of inquiry as to the warrant for doing the acts of which complaint is made. The remedy or proceeding by which the sovereign or state determines the legality of a claim… …   Ballentine's law dictionary

  • quo warranto — noun A writ brought before a proper tribunal, to inquire by what warrant a person or a corporation acts, or exercises certain powers …   Wiktionary

  • quo warranto — (Latin) on what authority , document issued by a court of law demanding to know by what right a person exercises the controversial authority; hearing to determine by what authority a person has an office or liberty …   English contemporary dictionary

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