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Decoding Judgements: Unveiling the Intricacies of Entick v Carrington

14 July 2023 | CaseSnappy Team

An old desk, with a pot of ink and feather quill in the corner.


Greetings from CaseSnappy in another edition of "Decoding Judgements"! This series is crafted to decipher landmark legal cases, aiming to clarify sometimes convoluted legal outcomes. Today, we're spotlighting Entick v Carrington [1765] EWHC KB J98, an impactful ruling that cemented the sanctity of private property and was foundational in shaping British constitutional law.

A Warren and Warrant-Less: Facts of the Case

This monumental case unfolded in 1762, featuring John Entick, a Grub Street writer, whose residence was forcibly entered by the King's messengers. Acting on a general warrant from Lord Halifax, the Secretary of State, they rummaged for seditious materials, damaging property in the process. The warrant lacked specific cause for the search, leading to Entick suing Carrington and his co-messengers for trespass and property damage.

To Intrude or Not Intrude: Issues in the Case

The central debate centred on the validity of the general warrant. Entick contested it for not indicating a legal reason for the search. On the other side, Carrington and co. defended that the Secretary of State's authority justified their actions under a general warrant.

Validity Vanquished: The Decision

In a pivotal ruling, the court deemed the warrant invalid, classifying it as a general warrant bereft of legal basis for search and seizure. It then held Carrington and his associates liable for the trespass and consequent damage. The court underscored the sacrosanct nature of individual private property, and explicitly set the standard that the state could only act in directions expressly allowed by law.

Lord Camden profoundly stated, "...every invasion of private property, be it ever so minute, is a trespass. No man can set his foot upon my ground without my license, but he is liable to an action, though the damage be nothing."

CaseSnappy: Your Legal Decoder

Today's highlighted case, Entick v Carrington, affixed the notion that law enforcement must adhere strictly to legal rules and established the inviolability of private property. At CaseSnappy, we're committed to distilling complicated court cases into clear, digestible summaries, useful for legal enthusiasts and professionals alike.

Keen to explore more rulings destined to shake our legal understanding? Register for free with CaseSnappy for direct access to our comprehensive case summaries. Keep an eye out for our next episode of "Decoding Judgements!

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