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Writ in United Kingdom

Definition of Writ

This is an official court document, signed by a judge or bearing an official court seal.

Meaning of Writ

The following is an old definition of Writ [1]: That which is written: a writing; a mandate or precept. The king’s precept in writing under seal issuing out of some court and commanding something to be done touching a suit or action, or giving commission to have it done. As used in the statutes of some States, generally means process in a civil suit, while process in a criminal case is denominated a “warrant.” At common law writs in civil actions were either original or judicial writs: Original writ. When a person had to apply to the sovereign for redress of an injury he sued out an ” original writ,” or simply an “original,” from the court of chancery (wherein all the king’s writs were framed). This was a mandatory letter from the king, in parchment, sealed with his great seal, and directed to the sheriff of the county wherein the injury was committed, or supposed to be, requiring him to command the wrong-doer to do justice to the complainant or else to appear in court and answer the accusation. whatever the sheriff did in pursuance of this writ he “returned” or certified to the court of common pleas, together with the writ itself. This was the foundation of the jurisdiction of that court, being the king’s warrant for the judges to proceed to the determination of the cause. An original writ was either optional or peremptory. It was ” optional,” or a proecipe, when in the alternative, commanding the defendant to do the thing required, or show the reason why he had not done it. It was ” peremptory,” or a si fecerit te securum, when it directed the sheriff to cause the defendant to appear in court, without option, provided the plaintiff gave security to effectually prosecute his claim. The former writ issued when something certain was demanded; the latter, when only a satisfaction in general was wanted. Judicial writ. A mandate, precept, or process issuing, or issued, from a court (of liw or equity), or from a judge acting as a judge. It a defendant, being summoned, neglected to appear, or if the sheriff returned a nihil (i. e., nothing whereby the defendant may be summoned, attached, or distrained), a capias issued, to take the body of the defendant and have him in court on the day of the return, to answer the complaint. That writ of capias, and all other writs subsequent to the original writ, not issuing out of chancery, but from the court into which the original was returnable, and being grounded on what passed in that court in consequence of the sheriff’s return, were called judicial writs. They issued under the private seal of that court, and were teste’d in the name of the chief or senior justice only. In England, since 1873, all suits begin with a writ of summons. In this country, the courts derive jurisdiction from constitutions, and not from any writ in the. nature of the old common-law original writ. See Straw Bail. In some jurisdictions, ” original ” refers to the writ by which a suit is instituted, as, a writ of summons, and is contradistinguished from the “final” writ or writ of execution. See Final, 3. The forms of writs, by which actions are commenced, were perfected ih the reign of Edward the First (1273-1307). One inherent power ih an appellate court is the right to make use of all writs known to the common law, and, if necessary, to invent new writs or proceedings in order to suitably esercise jurisdiction already conferred. The various species of writs in use take their names from their office or purpose; as, a writ of -assistance, attachment, capias, dower, ejectment, entry, error, execution, extent, inquiry, right, summons; prerogative writs, etc. See those substantives, also Abatement, 4; Exigency; Judge, p. 575, c. 2; Qttash; Process; Return; Service, 6; especially Execution, 3, Writs of.


Notes and References

  1. Concept of Writ provided by the Anderson Dictionary of Law (1889) (Dictionary of Law consisting of Judicial Definitions and Explanations of Words, Phrases and Maxims and an Exposition of the Principles of Law: Comprising a Dictionary and Compendium of American and English Jurisprudence; William C. Anderson; T. H. Flood and Company, Law Publishers, Chicago, United States)

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Schema Summary

  • Article Name: Writ
  • Author: B. Hepple
  • Description: Definition of Writ This is an official court document, signed by a judge or bearing an official court seal. Meaning of Writ [...]

This entry was last updated: March 21, 2017


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