- Letters patent
Letters patent are a type of
legal instrumentin the form of an open letterissued by a monarchor government, granting an office, right, monopoly, title, or status to a person or to some entity such as a corporation. The opposite of "letters patent" (Lat. "litterae patentes") is " letters close" (Lat. "litterae clausae"), which are personal in nature and sealed so that only the recipient can read their contents. Due to the Latin idiom involved, a single document is not a "letter patent" but still "letters patent."
Letters patent often start with a salutation such as "To all to whom these presents shall come Greeting" or "To all to whom these presents shall come or whom the same may in any way concern, GREETING:" or even just "To all and singular, greeting." However, a document starting with such a clause may merely be a
deed poll. Letters patent can be used for the granting of city status or coats of arms, for the creation of corporations, or by a monarchto create an office. They are also common in printed diplomasand academic degrees from educational institutions.
A particular form of letters patent has evolved into the modern
patentgranting exclusive rights in an invention.
United Kingdomand some Commonwealth realms (where letters patent may be issued by the Governor-General), letters patent are issued under the Royal Prerogativeand constitute a rare, if significant, form of legislationwithout the consent of Parliament. Letters patent may also be used to grant royal assentto acts of Parliament.
United States, the forgeryof letters patent granted by the President of the United Statesis a crimesubject to fine and/or imprisonmentup to ten years (UnitedStatesCode|18|497). Without letters patent a person is unable to assume an appointed office. Such prompted the " Marbury v. Madison" suit where William Marburyand three others petitioned the United States Supreme Courtto order James Madisonto deliver their letters for appointments made under the previous administration.
Lettre de cachet
Letter of marque
Patent of Toleration
Statute of Monopolies 1623, an attempt to rein in the abuse of letters patent in England
* [http://www.foundingdocs.gov.au/item.asp?sdID=84 Letters Patent from Queen Victoria establishing the Governor-General of Australia]
**Now revoked by [http://www.statusquo.org/aru_html/html/GovGen.html Letters patent from Queen Elizabeth II dated
21 August 1984as amended]
* [http://www.province-canada.anglican.org/canons/letters.shtml Letters Patent of Anglican Church of Canada]
* [http://www.geocities.com/Yosemite/Rapids/3330/constitution/1876lp.htm Letters patent of Governor and Commander in Chief of Newfoundland, 1876]
* [http://www.solon.org/Constitutions/Canada/English/LettersPatent.html Letters Patent Constituting the Office of Governor General of Canada]
* [http://www.dpmc.govt.nz/cabinet/manual/letters_patent_constituting.html Letters Patent Constituting the Office of Governor-General of New Zealand]
* [http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/catalogue/RdLeaflet.asp?sLeafletID=76 Research Guide on Letters Patent]
* [http://www.opsi.gov.uk/SI/si1992/Uksi_19921730_en_2.htm Letters Patent granting Peerages and Royal Warrants]
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.