Entick v Carrington: KBD 1765

The Property of Every Man is Sacred

The King’s Messengers entered the plaintiff’s house and seized his papers under a warrant issued by the Secretary of State, a government minister.
Held: The common law does not recognise interests of state as a justification for allowing what would otherwise be an unlawful search. Lord Camden CJ said: ‘Our law holds the property of every man so sacred, that no man can set his foot upon his neighbour’s close without his leave; if he does, he is a trespasser, though he does no damage at all; if he will tread upon his neighbour’s ground, he must justify it by law . . we can safely say there is no law in this country to justify the defendants in what they have done; if there was, it would destroy all the comforts of society; for papers are often the dearest property a man can have.’ and ‘with respect to the argument of State necessity, or a distinction that has been aimed at between state offences and others, the common law does not understand that kind of reasoning, nor do our books take notice of any such distinctions.’
‘If it is law, it will be found in our books. If it is not to be found there, it is not law.’
Pratt LJ said: ‘The great end for which men entered into society was to secure their properties. That right is preserved sacred and incommunicable in all instances where it has not been abridged by some public law for the good of the whole.’


Lord Camden CJ, Pratt LJ


(1765) 2 Wils 275, (1765) 19 St Tr 1030, [1765] EWHC KB J98, [1799] EngR 236, (1799) 2 Wils KB 275, (1799) 95 ER 807, 1558-1774 All ER Rep 45


Bailii, Commonlii


England and Wales

Cited by:

CitedAttorney General v Danhai Williams and others PC 12-May-1997
(Jamaica) Customs investigating officers on attended the appellant’s premises in the course of an investigation of fraudulent importation. The officers were met by a hostile crowd, and the claimant did not attend for interview as invited. A search . .
CitedBici and Bici v Ministry of Defence QBD 7-Apr-2004
Claimants sought damages for personal injuries incurred when, in Pristina, Kosovo and during a riot, British soldiers on a UN peacekeeping expedition fired on a car.
Held: The incidents occurred in the course of peace-keeping duties. It was . .
CitedDavidson v Scottish Ministers HL 15-Dec-2005
The complainant a prisoner sought an order that he should not be kept in conditions found to be inhumane. He had been detained in Barlinnie priosn. The Crown replied that a mandatory order was not available against the Scottish Ministers.
CitedChristie v Leachinsky HL 25-Mar-1947
Arrested Person must be told basis of the Arrest
Police officers appealed against a finding of false imprisonment. The plaintiff had been arrested under the 1921 Act, but this provided no power of arrest (which the appellant knew). The officers might lawfully have arrested the plaintiff for the . .
CitedSK, Regina (on the Application of) v Secretary of State for the Home Department Admn 25-Jan-2008
The claimant was a Zimbabwean National who was to be removed from the country. He was unlawfully held in detention pending removal. He sought damages for false imprisonment. He had been held over a long period pending decisions in the courts on the . .
CitedGillies v Procurator Fiscal, Elgin HCJ 1-Oct-2008
The police went to the defendant’s flat to find her boyfriend. She refused them access, but when they saw him, the police officers called out that he was under arrest under the 1995 Act, and forced their way past the door and the defendant. The . .
CitedBancoult, Regina (on the Application of) v Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (No 2) HL 22-Oct-2008
The claimants challenged the 2004 Order which prevented their return to their homes on the Chagos Islands. The islanders had been taken off the island to leave it for use as a US airbase. In 2004, the island was no longer needed, and payment had . .
CitedIn re Guardian News and Media Ltd and Others; HM Treasury v Ahmed and Others SC 27-Jan-2010
Proceedings had been brought to challenge the validity of Orders in Council which had frozen the assets of the claimants in those proceedings. Ancillary orders were made and confirmed requiring them not to be identified. As the cases came to the . .
CitedAnton Piller v Manufacturing Processes Ltd CA 8-Dec-1975
Civil Search Orders possible
The plaintiff manufactured and supplied through the defendants, its English agents, computer components. It had reason to suspect that the defendant was disclosing its trade secrets to competitors. The court considered the effect of a civil search . .
CitedRegina v Inland Revenue Commissioners ex parte Rossminster Ltd HL 13-Dec-1979
The House considered the power of an officer of the Board of Inland Revenue to seize and remove materials found on premises which a warrant obtained on application to the Common Serjeant authorised him to enter and search; but where the source of . .
CitedDavidson v Scottish Ministers HL 15-Jul-2004
The claimant had sought damages for the conditions in which he had been held in prison in Scotland. He later discovered that one of the judges had acted as Lord Advocate representing as to the ability of the new Scottish Parliamentary system to . .
CitedLandlords Association for Northern Ireland, Re an Application for Judicial Review QBNI 14-Mar-2005
. .
CitedSovereign Dimensional Survey Ltd v Cooper SCS 28-Nov-2008
. .
CitedHM Treasury v Ahmed and Others SC 27-Jan-2010
The claimants objected to orders made freezing their assets under the 2006 Order, after being included in the Consolidated List of suspected members of terrorist organisations.
Held: The orders could not stand. Such orders were made by the . .
CitedChic Fashions (West Wales) Ltd v Jones CA 12-Dec-1967
Lord Denning MR said that a constable equipped with a search warrant: ‘may seize not only the goods which he reasonably to be covered by the warrant, but also any other goods which he believes on reasonable grounds to have been stolen and to be . .
CitedRegina v Commissioner of Police for The Metropolis, ex parte Rottman HL 16-May-2002
The defendant had been arrested under an extradition warrant issued under the Act. The police had searched his premises, and found further evidence which was used to support the application for extradition. He challenged the collection and admission . .
CitedClarke v Chief Constable of North Wales Police CA 7-Oct-1997
. .
CitedRegina v Secretary of State for Health, ex parte C CA 21-Feb-2000
An extra-statutory database maintained by the Secretary of State of the names of people considered to be unsafe to work with children was lawful. Two competing and genuine interests were to be balanced. The right to pursue employment without being . .
CitedStockdale v Hansard 1839
Bailii It is no defence in law to an action for publishing a libel, that defamatory matter is part of a order of the House of Commons, laid before the House, and thereupon became part of the proceedings of the . .
CitedRegina v Secretary of State for Trade and Industry and Northern Electric Plc ex parte Wolf Admn 21-Aug-1997
The landowner wanted to terminate a wayleave agreement. . .
CitedRegina v Secretary of State for Home Department ex parte Bancoult Admn 3-Mar-1999
Application for leave to appeal granted. . .
CitedRegina v Central Criminal Court Ex Parte Bright; Regina v Same, Ex Parte Rusbridger QBD 21-Jul-2000
An order was made for a journalist to disclose to the police material disclosed to him in connection with a prosecution under the Official Secrets Act. The journalist appealed the order, on the basis that it was in effect an order that he . .
CitedRegina v Worcester County Council Secretary of State for Department of Health ex parte S W Admn 2-Oct-2000
The court considered the lawfulness of a non-statutory list of people who might not be employed to work with children, the Consultancy Service Index. . .
CitedRegina v Secretary of State for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Another, ex parte Bancoult Admn 3-Nov-2000
The applicant sought judicial review of an ordinance made by the commissioner for the British Indian Ocean Territory. An issue was raised whether the High Court in London had jurisdiction to entertain the proceedings and grant relief.
Held: . .
CitedRegina (Hoverspeed Limited and others) v Commissioners of Customs and Excise CA 10-Dec-2002
Passengers leaving a ferry had been stopped by Customs. The vehicle was searched and a quantity of alcohol and tobacco found, which they believed not to be for personal consumption. The car and imports had been forfeited. The court had said that the . .
CitedO Ltd v Z ChD 23-Feb-2005
The court was asked whether a search under a court order of a former employee’s computer for materials alleged to have been taken, which discovered material possession of which itself was a crime, infringed the defendant’s rights against self . .
CitedSecretary of State for the Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs v Bancoult, Regina (on the Application of) CA 23-May-2007
The claimant was a Chagos Islander removed in 1970 to make way for a US airbase. The court had ordered that the islanders be allowed to return, but the appellant had passed an Order in Council effectively reversing the position, and now appealed a . .
CitedShrewsbury and Atcham Borough Council v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Admn 10-Oct-2007
. .
CitedBhatti and Others v Croydon Magistrates Court and Others Admn 6-Nov-2009
. .
CitedBhatti and Others v Croydon Magistrates’ Court and Others Admn 3-Feb-2010
The claimant challenged the valiity of search warrants used at his home. He said they were deficient in not including the information as required by the Act. The police said that they were in accordance with the Home Office guidance.
Held: . .
CitedCoward v Harraden QBD 2-Dec-2011
Parties had fought each other in wide ranging litigation. The claimant found covert surveillance devices in his home, and discovered evidence that the defendant may have information as to who had placed them. Earlier orders had been made for the . .
CitedMills and Another, Regina (on The Application of) v Sussex Police and Another Admn 25-Jul-2014
The claimants faced criminal charges involving allegations of fraud and corruption. They now challenged by judicial review a search and seizure warrant saying that it was unlawful. A restraint order had been made against them and they had complied . .
CitedYoussef v Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs SC 27-Jan-2016
An Egyptian national, had lived here since 1994. He challenged a decision by the Secretary of State,as a member of the committee of the United Nations Security Council, known as the Resolution 1267 Committee or Sanctions Committee. The committee . .
CitedMiller, Regina (on the Application of) v The Prime Minister; Cherry QC v Lord Advocate SC 24-Sep-2019
Prerogative act of prorogation was justiciable.
The Prime Minister had prorogued Parliament for a period of five weeks, leaving only a short time for Parliament to debate and act the forthcoming termination of the membership by the UK of the EU. The Scottish Court had decided (Cherry) that the . .
CitedPrivacy International, Regina (on The Application of) v Investigatory Powers Tribunal and Others SC 15-May-2019
The Court was asked whether the actions of the Investigatory Powers Tribunal were amenable to judicial review: ‘what if any material difference to the court’s approach is made by any differences in context or wording, and more particularly the . .
CitedHaralambous, Regina (on The Application of) v Crown Court at St Albans and Another SC 24-Jan-2018
The appellant challenged by review the use of closed material first in the issue of a search warrant, and subsequently to justify the retention of materials removed during the search.
Held: The appeal failed. No express statutory justification . .
CitedRobinson v Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police SC 8-Feb-2018
Limits to Police Exemption from Liability
The claimant, an elderly lady was bowled over and injured when police were chasing a suspect through the streets. As they arrested him they fell over on top of her. She appealed against refusal of her claim in negligence.
Held: Her appeal . .
CitedPoole Borough Council v GN and Another SC 6-Jun-2019
This appeal is concerned with the liability of a local authority for what is alleged to have been a negligent failure to exercise its social services functions so as to protect children from harm caused by third parties. The principal question of . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Torts – Other, Constitutional

Leading Case

Updated: 11 February 2022; Ref: scu.184696

Comments are closed.