Legal Dictionary


Legal Definition of certiorari


  1. A writ of certiorari is a form of judicial review whereby a court is asked to consider a legal decision of an administrative tribunal, judicial office or organization (e.g.. government) and to decide if the decision has been regular and complete or if there has been an error of law.

    Example: A certiorari may be used to wipe out a decision of an administrative tribunal which was made in violation of the rules of natural justice, such as a failure to give the person affected by the decision an opportunity to be heard.

Definition of certiorari


    Law Latin present passive infinitive of certioro, a contraction of certiorem facere ("to search", literally "to make certain").


certiorari (uncountable)

  1. (US) (law) A grant of the right of an appeal to be heard by an appellate court where that court has discretion to choose which appeals it will hear.
  2. (British) (law) A grant of review of a government action by a court with discretion to make such a review.

Derived terms

  • cert (abbreviation)
  • cert pool

Further reading

Certiorari (pronounced /ˌsɜrʃ(i).əˈrɛ(ə)ri, -ˈrɛəraɪ, -ˈrɑri, ˌsɜrti.oʊˈrɑri/[1]) is a legal term in Roman, English, and American law referring to a type of writ seeking judicial review. Certiorari ("to be more fully informed") is the present passive infinitive of Latin certiorare, ("to show, prove, or ascertain"). A writ of certiorari currently means an order by a higher court directing a lower court, tribunal, or public authority to send the record in a given case for review.

Roman law

In Roman law, an action of certiorari was suggested in terms of reviewing a case-much as the term is applied today-although the term was also used in writing to indicate the need or duty to inform other parties of a court's ruling. It was a highly technical term appearing only in jurisprudential Latin, most frequently in the works of Ulpian.

The term "certiorari" is often found in Roman literature on law but applied in a philosophical rather than tangible manner when concerning the action of review of a case or aspects of a case. Essentially, it states that the case will be heard.


Certiorari is available as an incidental remedy to the remedies of mandamus, prohibition, or injunction in the High Court of Australia - due to the effect of s75(v) of the Australian Constitution.

United Kingdom

Historically, in England and Wales, certiorari was issued to bring the record of an inferior court into the King's Bench for review or to remove indictments for trial in that court. It evolves now as a general remedy to bring decisions of an inferior court or tribunal or public authority before the superior court for review so that the court can determine whether to quash such decisions.

Further reading


  1. Wiktionary. Published under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.


1.     warrant
2.     tampering
3.     emtio
4.     amnesty law
5.     magistrates court
6.     lex fori
7.     landed property
8.     lex situs
9.     lex causae
10.     ownership