Writ Of Course

Writ Of Course
Writ Of Course
Quick Summary of Writ Of Course

A writ of course, also known as a writ of right or breve de cursu, is issued or granted automatically or as a matter of right. If someone has a legal entitlement to a property, they can obtain a writ of course, to assert their claim without having to provide evidence beforehand. Another example of a writ of course, is a writ of covenant, also known as breve de conventione, which is used when someone seeks damages for a breach of a sealed promise or covenant. For instance, if a landlord fails to fulfil their promise to make repairs to a rental property, the tenant can obtain a writ of covenant to seek damages. These examples demonstrate how a writ of course, is granted as a matter of right, eliminating the need for the person to prove their case prior to obtaining the writ.

What is the dictionary definition of Writ Of Course?
Dictionary Definition of Writ Of Course

A writ of course is a legal document that is issued automatically or granted as a right, also known as a writ of right or breve de cursu. On the other hand, a writ of covenant is a type of writ used by someone who has suffered damages due to a breach of a promise or covenant, also called breve de conventione. This writ was popular in the early years of Henry III and was often used to settle disputes quickly and inexpensively.

Full Definition Of Writ Of Course

The writ of course is a legal instrument in British jurisprudence, rooted in the common law tradition, that facilitates the automatic issuance of certain judicial orders upon the application of a party, without requiring a judge’s discretionary assessment. Historically, this type of writ has been crucial in expediting judicial procedures and ensuring the efficient administration of justice. This essay delves into the definition, historical context, procedural aspects, types, and contemporary relevance of the writ of course in the legal system of the United Kingdom.

Definition and Nature of Writ of Course

A writ of course is an automatic judicial order issued by the court’s administrative officers, typically clerks, in response to an application by a party to a legal proceeding. Unlike writs that require judicial consideration or the exercise of judicial discretion, writs of course are issued as a matter of right. These writs are procedural tools designed to advance the proceedings in a case and ensure that legal processes are adhered to promptly.

Historical Context

The concept of writs of course has its origins in the medieval English legal system. During the early development of common law, writs were formal written orders issued by the King’s Chancery, and their use was crucial in initiating legal actions. Initially, obtaining a writ involved a complex process that required royal or judicial approval. However, as the legal system evolved, the need for more efficient procedures led to the creation of writs that could be issued automatically.

By the 13th century, the distinction between writs that required judicial discretion and those that could be issued as a matter of course became more pronounced. Writs of course were designed to streamline legal proceedings and reduce the burden on the judiciary by delegating certain procedural tasks to court clerks.

Types of Writs of Course

Writs of course encompass a variety of procedural orders, each serving specific functions within the legal process. Some common types include:

  1. Writ of Summons: This writ is issued to notify a defendant that legal proceedings have been initiated against them. It requires the defendant to appear in court and respond to the plaintiff’s claims.
  2. Writ of Execution: Issued following a judgment, this writ authorises the enforcement of the court’s decision. It allows for the seizure and sale of a debtor’s property to satisfy a judgment debt.
  3. Writ of Possession: This writ is issued in property disputes, particularly in cases of eviction, granting the plaintiff possession of the property in question.
  4. Writ of Attachment: This writ orders the seizure of a defendant’s property to secure the satisfaction of a potential judgment. It is often used to ensure that a defendant’s assets are available to meet a future court order.
  5. Writ of Prohibition: Issued by a higher court to a lower court, this writ orders the lower court to cease proceedings in a case that falls outside its jurisdiction.

Procedural Aspects

The issuance of a writ of course typically involves the following procedural steps:

  1. Application: The party seeking the writ submits an application to the court. This application must comply with specific procedural rules and provide necessary information, such as the nature of the writ sought and the grounds for its issuance.
  2. Clerk’s Review: Upon receiving the application, the court clerk reviews it for procedural compliance. Unlike discretionary writs, this review does not involve an assessment of the merits of the case but ensures that the application meets formal requirements.
  3. Issuance: If the application is in order, the court clerk issues the writ as a matter of course. The writ is then served on the relevant parties, initiating or advancing the legal process.
  4. Service and Enforcement: The issued writ must be properly served on the party to whom it is directed. Depending on the type of writ, this may involve physical delivery by a process server, postal service, or other legally recognised means. In the case of writs of execution or possession, enforcement officers may be involved in carrying out the court’s orders.

Legal Significance and Benefits

The writ of course serves several important functions within the legal system:

  1. Efficiency: By allowing certain procedural orders to be issued automatically, writs of course reduce the need for judicial oversight in routine matters, thereby freeing up judicial resources for more complex issues.
  2. Consistency: The automatic issuance of writs of course ensures consistency in procedural matters, reducing the likelihood of arbitrary or discretionary decisions that could lead to unequal treatment of parties.
  3. Expedition: Writs of course facilitate the swift progression of legal proceedings, minimising delays and ensuring that parties can move forward with their cases without unnecessary obstacles.
  4. Accessibility: Simplifying the process for obtaining certain writs makes the legal system more accessible to litigants, particularly those who may not have the resources to navigate complex judicial procedures.

Contemporary Relevance and Challenges

While the writ of course remains a vital tool in the administration of justice, its application has evolved in response to changes in the legal landscape. Modern legal systems, including that of the UK, continue to rely on writs of course, but with adaptations to address contemporary needs and challenges.

Technological Advancements: The advent of digital technologies has transformed the way writs of course are issued and managed. Electronic filing systems and online case management platforms enable parties to submit applications and receive writs more efficiently. This shift has streamlined procedural processes and improved access to justice.

Judicial Reforms: Ongoing judicial reforms have aimed to enhance the efficiency and fairness of the legal system. In the UK, reforms such as the Civil Procedure Rules (CPR) have standardised procedures for obtaining writs of course, ensuring greater transparency and consistency. The CPR provides detailed guidance on the issuance and enforcement of various types of writs, promoting clarity and predictability in legal proceedings.

Challenges: Despite these advancements, challenges remain in the application of writs of course. One significant challenge is ensuring that the automated issuance of writs does not compromise the rights of parties, particularly those who may be vulnerable or lack legal representation. Safeguards must be in place to prevent the misuse or overuse of writs of course, ensuring that procedural fairness is maintained.

Future Directions: The continued evolution of the writ of course will likely be shaped by ongoing legal and technological developments. Efforts to enhance the accessibility and efficiency of the legal system will drive further innovations in the issuance and management of writs. Additionally, the balance between automation and judicial oversight will remain a key consideration, ensuring that the benefits of writs of course are realised without compromising the integrity of the legal process.


The writ of course represents a foundational element of the British legal system, embodying the principles of efficiency, consistency, expedition, and accessibility. Its historical roots trace back to the early common law system, reflecting the enduring need for streamlined judicial procedures. In contemporary legal practice, writs of course continue to play a crucial role, facilitated by technological advancements and judicial reforms.

As the legal landscape evolves, the writ of course will remain a vital tool in the administration of justice. Its automatic issuance ensures that procedural matters are addressed promptly and fairly, reducing the burden on the judiciary and enhancing access to justice for all parties. However, the continued success of writs of course will depend on balancing automation with the need for safeguards that protect the rights and interests of litigants.

In summary, the writ of course is a testament to the adaptability and resilience of the British legal system. It exemplifies the ongoing efforts to refine and improve legal procedures, ensuring that justice is administered efficiently and equitably. As legal systems around the world continue to evolve, the principles underpinning the writ of course will remain relevant, guiding the development of fair and efficient judicial processes.

Writ Of Course FAQ'S

A Writ of Course is a legal document issued by a court that orders a law enforcement officer to bring a person before the court.

A Writ of Course is typically used when a person needs to be brought before the court for various reasons, such as to testify as a witness or to address a legal matter.

Typically, only the court or an authorized party, such as an attorney, can request a Writ of Course.

The time it takes to obtain a Writ of Course can vary depending on the specific circumstances and the court’s workload. It is best to consult with an attorney to get an accurate estimate.

Yes, a Writ of Course can be challenged or appealed if there are valid legal grounds to do so. It is important to consult with an attorney to understand the specific procedures and requirements for challenging or appealing a Writ of Course.

Yes, a Writ of Course can be used to enforce child custody or visitation orders if a party is not complying with the court’s orders. It allows the court to bring the non-compliant party before the court to address the issue.

No, a Writ of Course is not typically used to enforce payment of a debt. Other legal remedies, such as garnishment or a judgment lien, may be more appropriate for enforcing payment of a debt.

Yes, a Writ of Course can be used to order the arrest of a person if they have been charged with a crime or if they have failed to comply with a court order.

Yes, a Writ of Course can be used to compel a person to testify in court if their testimony is deemed necessary for the case. Failure to comply with the Writ may result in penalties.

Yes, a Writ of Course can be used to transfer a case to a different court if there are valid reasons, such as a change in jurisdiction or venue. However, the specific procedures and requirements for transferring a case may vary depending on the jurisdiction.

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This site contains general legal information but does not constitute professional legal advice for your particular situation. Persuing this glossary does not create an attorney-client or legal adviser relationship. If you have specific questions, please consult a qualified attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.

This glossary post was last updated: 9th June 2024.

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