Held: The incidents occurred in the course of peace-keeping duties. It was. He had been detained in Barlinnie priosn. The Crown replied that a mandatory order was not available against the Scottish Ministers. The plaintiff had been arrested under the Act, but this provided no power of arrest which the appellant knew.
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I come in my last place to the point, which is made by the justification; for the defendants If he had no such jurisdiction, the law is clear, that the officers are as much responsible for the trespass as their superior This power, so claimed by the Secretary of State, is not supported by one single citation from any law book extant. It is claimed by no other magistrate in this kingdom but himself That such warrants have issued frequently since the Revolution They say too, that they have been executed without resistance upon many printers, booksellers, and authors, who have quietly submitted to the authority; that no action hath hitherto been brought to try the right; and that although they have been often read upon the returns of Habeas Corpus, yet no court of justice has ever declared them illegal.
And it is further insisted, that this power is essential to government, and the only means of quieting clamours and sedition Before I state the question, it will be necessary to describe the power claimed by this warrant in its full extent. It is executed against the party, before he is heard or even summoned; and the information, as well as the informers, is unknown. It is executed by messengers with or without a constable for it can never be pretended, that such is necessary in point of law in the presence or the absence of the party, as the messengers shall think fit, and without a witness to testify what passes at the time of the transaction, so that when the papers are cone, as the only witnesses are the trespassers, the party injured is left without proof.
If this injury falls upon an innocent person, he is as destitute of remedy as the guilty: and the whole transaction is so guarded against discovery, that if the officer should be disposed to carry off a bank-bill, he may do it with impunity, since there is no man capable of proving either the taker or the thing taken.
It must not be here forgot that no subject whatsover is privileged from this search The word is general, and there is nothing in the warrant to confine it; nay, I am able to affirm, that it has been upon a late occasion executed in its utmost latitude: for in the case of Wilkes v Wood, when the messengers hesitated about taking all the manuscripts, and sent to the Secretary of State for more express orders for that purpose, the answer was "that all must be taken, manuscripts and all" Such is the power, and therefore one should naturally expect that the law to warrant it should be clear in proportion as the power is exorbitant.
If it is law. If it is not to be found there, it is not law. The great end, for which men entered into society, was to secure their property. That right is preserved sacred and incommunicable in all instances, where it has not been taken away or abridged by some public law for the good of the whole. The cases where this right of property is set aside by positive law, are various. By the laws of England, every invasion of private property, be it ever so minute, is a trespass. No man can set his foot upon my ground without my licence, but he is liable to an action, though the damage be nothing, which is proved by every declaration in trespass, where the defendant is called upon to answer for bruising the grass and even treading upon the soil.
If he admits the fact, he is bound to shew by way of justification, that some positive law has empowered or excused him. The justification is submitted to the judges, who are to look into the books; and see if such a justification can be maintained by the text of the statute law, or by the principles of common law. If no such excuse can be found or produced, the silence of the books is an authority against the defendant, and the plaintiff must have judgment.
According to this reasoning, it is now incumbent upon the defendants to shew the law, by which this seizure is warranted. If that cannot be done, it is a trespass. Where is the written law that gives any magistrate such a power? I can safely answer, there is none; and therefore it is too much for us without such authority to pronounce a practice legal, which would be subversive of all the comforts of society What would the Parliament say, if the judges should take upon themselves to mould an unlawful power into a convenient authority, by new restrictions?
That would be, not judgment, but legislation. I come now to the practice since the Revolution, which has been strongly urged, with this emphatical addition, that an usage tolerated from the era of liberty, and continued downwards to this time through the best ages of the constitution, must necessarily have a legal commencement This is the first instance I have met with, where the ancient immemorable law of the land, in a public matter, was attempted to be proved by the practice of a private office.
The names and rights of public magistrates, their power and forms of proceeding as they are settled by law, have been long since written, an are to be found in books and records. Private customs indeed are still to be sought from private tradition. But who ever conceived a notion, that any part of the public law could be buried in the obscure practice of a particular person?
To search, seize, and carry away all the papers of the subject upon the first warrant: that such a right should have existed from the time whereof the memory of man runneth not to the contrary, and never yet have found a place in any book of law, is incredible But still it is insisted, that there has been a general submission, and no action brought to try the right. I answer, there has been a submission of guilt and poverty to power and the terror of punishment. But it would be strange doctrine to assert that all the people of this land are bound to acknowledge that to be universal law, which a few criminal booksellers have been afraid to dispute If the king himself has no power to declare when the law ought to be violated for reason of State, I am sure we his judges have no such prerogative This selection c Oxford University Press, Copyright in the individual extracts as listed in the acknowledgments.
Entick v Carrington
I come in my last place to the point, which is made by the justification; for the defendants If he had no such jurisdiction, the law is clear, that the officers are as much responsible for the trespass as their superior This power, so claimed by the Secretary of State, is not supported by one single citation from any law book extant. It is claimed by no other magistrate in this kingdom but himself
Entick v Carrington 
Entick sued the messengers for trespassing on his land. In the most famous passage Camden stated: The great end, for which men entered into society, was to secure their property. The cases where this right of property is set aside by private law, are various. Distresses, executions, forfeitures, taxes etc are all of this description; wherein every man by common consent gives up that right, for the sake of justice and the general good.
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