The Case of Proclamations

The Case of Proclamations [1610] EWHC KB J22 is an English constitutional law case during the reign of King James I (1603–1625) which established some restrictions on the Royal Prerogative at the time. In essence, it stated that only via Parliament could the Monarch make laws.


The Tudor kings believed they could impose laws without the approval of Parliament by issuing royal proclamations. However, the English judiciary was starting to question the monarch’s unrestricted ability to “make” laws, which worried Parliament. When James I and Parliament were at odds over impositions in 1610, the judges were asked to rule on the King’s authority to enact laws. The King’s authority to impose further import charges on top of those already approved by Parliament was being opposed by Parliament. James, though, wanted to raise more money outside of Parliament through proclamations.


The judgment started to lay out the principle in English law that, when a case involving an alleged exercise of prerogative power came before the courts, the courts could determine whether the proclaimed prerogative existed in law and how far it extended; whether it had been limited by statute, and if so, in what way; and how. This principle was later developed by future parliaments and other members of the judiciary in subsequent cases, such as Dr. Bonham’s Case.


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