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Prerogative writ

In English law, the prerogative writs were those granted only if the king (at first) or the judge (since then, and still today in the U.S. and the Courts of England and Wales) decided to issue them as a favour in an unusual situation, because they interfere in some way with the usual judicial procedures.

The name derives from the Latin words for "before" and "to ask" or "to pray," but scholars disagree on what that originally meant. Some say the name derives from the early practice of waiting in the hallway for the king to pass by on his way to the chapel every morning and asking him to grant the writ, thus "before" his "prayers" at Mass (but this is unlikely because it seems to confuse "rogare" with "orare," although it might be that it came from "asking" "before" he went to pray). Others say it derives from the fact that the writs were not granted as a matter of right, but only if the person showed good cause, thus "asking" "before" having one granted. Still others say it derives from the writs' being among the king's exclusive discretionary powers, called his "prerogatives."

There are six prerogative writs:

See also judicial review.



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