Entick v Carrington

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Citation: (1765) 19 St Tr 1030

This information can be found in the Textbook: Blackshield, T, Williams G, Australian Constitutional Law & Theory: Commentary and Materials (5th ed, Federation Press, 2010), pp. 74-6


Background facts

  • Two of the King’s messengers broke into the Plaintiff’s house to retrieve certain documents.
  • They did so while authorised by a warrant from the Secretary of State.
  • Plaintiff sued for trespass.

Legal issues


  • “if it is the law, it will be found in our books. If it is not found there, it is not the law.[1]
  • State powers are specified by written statutes (made by parliament). They cannot be implied.
  • This power doesn’t exist
  • Reinforces rule of law, separation of powers, parliamentary supremacy.
  • Rule of law elements:
    • Courts hostility to arbitrary power
    • Subjection of everyone, including government officials, to the law
    • Formulation of freedoms through the common-law.


  1. (1765) 19 St Tr 1030, 1066
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