Quo Warranto

Definition - What does Quo Warranto mean?

Quo warranto is a Latin phrase that literally means "By what warrant [or authority]?"

Most often used in cases involving governmental decision-makers or corporate leadership, a writ of quo warranto is an order used to challenge a public office-holder’s authority or right to hold office.

Quo warranto is also used to challenge the validity of a corporation’s charter or incorporating articles.

Justipedia explains Quo Warranto

Writs of quo warranto are rooted in the history of the English monarchy. In ancient times, when documents were easier to forge and the transmission of information was more susceptible to confusion, attorneys often had ample reason to challenge whether a person claiming public office was truly given that authority by the king or queen.

In modern times, quo warranto is more commonly used as a proceeding to challenge those who are acting as directors or officers of business corporations. Another common scenario where quo warranto is invoked involves challenging a member of a profession (like medicine or law) where professional licenses are authorized by a governmental body.

Accompanying a writ of quo warranto is a request that the government act to revoke an individual’s privilege to hold office or license to practice. Prosecutors typically initiate quo warranto proceedings, but many jurisdictions have drafted statutes that allow private persons to commence a quo warranto proceeding.

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