Entick v. Carrington

Entick v. Carrington

"Entick v. Carrington" (1765) 19 "Howell's State Trials" 1030 is a leading case in English law establishing the civil liberties of individuals and limiting the scope of executive power.


On 11 November 1762, the King's. Chief Messenger Nathan Carrington, and three other King's messengers, James Watson, Thomas Ardran, and Robert Blackmore broke into the home of the Grub-street writer, John Entick, in the parish of St Dunstan, Stepney, "with force and arms" and seized Entick's private papers. Entick was arrested. Also arrested that day was a lawyer, Arthur Beardmore. The King's messengers were acting on the orders of Lord Halifax, newly appointed Secretary of State for the Northern Department, "to make strict and diligent search for . . . the author, or one concerned in the writing of several weekly very seditious papers intitled, 'The Monitor or British Freeholder, No 357, 358, 360, 373, 376, 378, and 380'".

Entick sought judgment against Carrington and his colleagues—who argued that they acted upon Halifax's warrant.


The trial took place in Westminster Hall presided over by Lord Camden, the Chief Justice of the Common Pleas. Camden held that Halifax had no right under statute or under precedent to issue such a warrant. In the most famous passage he stated:

So the individual may do anything but that which is forbidden by law, and the state may do nothing but that which is expressly authorised by law.


The judgment established the limits of executive power in English law, that an officer of the state could only act lawfully in a manner prescribed by statute or common law.

ee also

*The North Briton
*Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution

Further reading

*cite journal |last=Cuddihy |first=William |authorlink= |coauthors=Hardy, B. Carmon |year=1980 |month= |title=A Man's House Was Not His Castle: Origins of the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution |journal=William and Mary Quarterly |volume=37 |issue=3 |pages=372–400 |doi=10.2307/1923809 |url= |accessdate= |quote=

External links

* [http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/KB/1765/J98.html Full Text of Decision]
* [http://www.constitution.org/trials/entick/entick_v_carrington.htm Howell's Law Report]

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