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Quo warranto (Medieval Latin for "by what warrant?") is a prerogative writ requiring 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.

History

Quo warranto had its origins in an attempt by King Edward I of England to investigate and recover royal lands, rights, and franchises in Englandmarker, 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 Statesmarker 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 Queenslandmarker (Australia), the prerogative writ of quo warranto has been abolished.

See also



References

Bibliography

  • 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)


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