Define: Writ Of Entry

Writ Of Entry
Writ Of Entry
Quick Summary of Writ Of Entry

A writ of entry is a legal document that allows the rightful owner of real property to regain possession of the property if it is wrongfully removed. For example, if someone is living in a house that belongs to you and refuses to leave, you can file a writ of entry to legally force them to vacate the property and return it to you. This demonstrates how a writ of entry can be used to reclaim real property that has been wrongfully occupied. In this scenario, the person filing the writ of entry is the rightful owner, but someone else is occupying the property without permission. The writ of entry grants the owner the legal right to enter the property and retake possession.

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

A writ of entry is a legal instrument that enables individuals who have been unjustly evicted from their land or property to regain possession. It functions as a unique authorization from a judge, granting them the right to return to their property and rectify the situation.

Full Definition Of Writ Of Entry

A Writ of Entry is an ancient legal instrument historically utilised in England to address disputes over real property ownership and possession. It traces its origins back to the medieval period and was a crucial part of common law. This legal overview aims to elucidate the history, development, function, and eventual obsolescence of the Writ of Entry within the British legal system.

Historical Background

The Writ of Entry emerged in the early common law period as a remedy for landowners who were dispossessed of their property. During the medieval era, land was the primary source of wealth and power, making disputes over land ownership common. The writ was a tool to recover possession of land wrongfully withheld.

Initially, land disputes were settled through local customary laws, but the development of a more unified legal system under the Norman kings led to the creation of standardized writs. The Writ of Entry was one such standardized legal remedy, formalized under the reign of Henry II in the 12th century. It was designed to address cases where someone had entered into land unlawfully or without right, commonly known as “disseisin.”

Types of Writs of Entry

There were various forms of Writs of Entry, each tailored to specific circumstances of unlawful possession. Some of the main types included:

  1. Writ of Entry in the Nature of an Assize: This was used when a person claimed that they or their ancestors were unjustly dispossessed. It was a quasi-criminal procedure aimed at restoring the rightful owner.
  2. Writ of Entry sur disseisin: This writ addressed cases where the claimant argued that they had been disseised (dispossessed) by force or without legal right.
  3. Writ of Entry in the Post: This writ was employed when the wrongful possession was due to a conveyance or transfer that occurred after a certain point in time, hence the term “in the post” (postquam).
  4. Writ of Entry ad terminum qui praeteriit: This writ was used when a tenant who had a term (e.g., a lease) in the land overstayed beyond the agreed term without the owner’s permission.

Each type of writ catered to different nuances of property disputes, allowing for a flexible yet structured approach to resolving issues of land ownership and possession.

Procedure and Legal Process

The procedure for a Writ of Entry was meticulous, reflecting the formalism of medieval common law. The claimant, known as the demandant, would file the writ in the King’s court. The writ commanded the sheriff to summon the alleged wrongdoer, known as the tenant, to court.

Once the tenant was summoned, the court process involved several stages:

  1. Pleadings: The initial stage involved the demandant presenting their claim and the tenant providing their defence. The pleadings had to be precise, and any discrepancy could result in the writ being quashed.
  2. Issues of Fact and Law: If the pleadings were accepted, the court would then determine the issues of fact and law. This stage often involved jury trials to ascertain the facts of the case.
  3. Verdict and Judgment: Based on the jury’s findings and the application of the law, the court would deliver its judgment. If the verdict favoured the demandant, they would be restored to possession of the land.

The Writ of Entry was thus a powerful legal remedy, ensuring that rightful landowners could reclaim their property through a structured and formal legal process.

Development and Evolution

Over time, the use and importance of the Writ of Entry evolved. The development of other legal remedies and procedures, such as ejectment and the action of trespass, began to offer more efficient means of addressing land disputes.

The Statute of Marlborough (1267) and the Statute of Gloucester (1278) were significant in this evolution. These statutes reformed and expanded the remedies available for land disputes, gradually reducing the reliance on the Writ of Entry.

By the 17th century, the Writ of Entry had become less common. The legal system continued to evolve, and newer forms of action provided more direct and less cumbersome remedies for property disputes. The development of equity and the rise of the Court of Chancery also played a role in providing alternative remedies.

Decline and Obsolescence

The decline of the Writ of Entry was further accelerated by the modernization of the legal system in the 19th century. The Judicature Acts of 1873-1875, which aimed to simplify and streamline the English legal system, played a crucial role in this process.

These Acts merged the administration of common law and equity, creating a unified court system. They also abolished many of the old forms of action, including the Writ of Entry. The procedural reforms introduced by these Acts meant that legal disputes could be resolved more efficiently without the need for the cumbersome and archaic writ system.

Impact and Legacy

While the Writ of Entry is no longer in use, its historical significance remains. It played a crucial role in the development of English property law, laying the foundations for modern legal principles concerning land ownership and possession.

The writ system, including the Writ of Entry, contributed to the formalization and standardization of legal procedures. This formalism ensured consistency and predictability in the administration of justice, which are core principles of modern legal systems.

Moreover, the evolution of the Writ of Entry reflects broader trends in legal history, such as the shift from local customary laws to a more centralized legal system, the gradual replacement of formalism with pragmatism, and the ongoing effort to make the legal system more accessible and efficient.


The Writ of Entry was a pivotal legal instrument in medieval and early modern England, providing a structured remedy for landowners to reclaim possession of their property. Although it has become obsolete, its influence on the development of property law and legal procedures is undeniable.

The writ’s detailed procedural requirements and its role in the evolution of the common law highlight the dynamic nature of legal systems, adapting over time to better meet the needs of society. Understanding the Writ of Entry offers valuable insights into the history and development of English law, illustrating the complex interplay between legal principles, societal needs, and procedural innovations.

In contemporary legal education and historical studies, the Writ of Entry serves as a reminder of the origins of modern property law and the ongoing journey towards a more efficient and equitable legal system.

Writ Of Entry FAQ'S

A Writ of Entry is a legal document issued by a court that authorizes a person to regain possession of a property that has been wrongfully taken or withheld from them.

You can file a Writ of Entry when you believe that someone is unlawfully occupying your property without your permission or when you have been wrongfully evicted from your property.

To file a Writ of Entry, you need to draft a complaint explaining the details of the situation and the reasons why you believe you are entitled to regain possession of the property. You then need to file the complaint with the appropriate court and pay the required filing fees.

Yes, you can file a Writ of Entry without an attorney. However, it is recommended to seek legal advice to ensure that you follow the correct procedures and present a strong case.

The time it takes to obtain a Writ of Entry can vary depending on the court’s schedule and workload. It is best to consult with the court clerk or an attorney to get an estimate of the expected timeline.

Once you obtain a Writ of Entry, it will be served to the person occupying your property. If they fail to comply with the court order and vacate the premises, you may need to involve law enforcement to enforce the writ and regain possession of the property.

No, a Writ of Entry is not typically used to evict a tenant. It is primarily used to regain possession of a property that has been wrongfully taken or withheld. To evict a tenant, you would need to follow the specific eviction procedures outlined in your jurisdiction’s landlord-tenant laws.

Yes, a Writ of Entry can be used to recover personal belongings from someone who is wrongfully withholding them. However, it is important to consult with an attorney to determine the most appropriate legal action to take in your specific situation.

Yes, if you are dissatisfied with the court’s decision regarding a Writ of Entry, you have the right to appeal the decision. You will need to follow the appellate procedures of your jurisdiction and present your case to a higher court.

No, a Writ of Entry is not typically used to resolve boundary disputes. Boundary disputes are usually resolved through property surveys, negotiations, or legal actions such as quiet title actions. It is advisable to consult with an attorney specializing in real estate law to determine the best course of action for your specific situation.

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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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