The Six Types of Prerogative Writs

A prerogative writ is an official order issued by a court directing the behavior of a lower court, an agency, a specific official, or another branch of government. Traditionally, prerogative writs were available only to the English monarch, but in recent years, they have been adapted to be used by legal courts.

Prerogative writs are often seen as extraordinary remedies where a court has no other option. In these circumstances, a court may use one of any six possible prerogative writs:


A writ of certiorari is issued when a court seeks judicial review of a lower court’s decision. In England and Wales, certiorari is often referred to as a “quashing order” since it is issued when a higher court overrules a lower court’s decision.

Habeas Corpus

A writ of habeas corpus is one of the most well-known writs, likely because it was a central component of the U.S. Constitution (Article One, Section 9). Habeas corpus declares that a prisoner must be taken to court to determine if their detention was lawful.


Mandamus means “we command,” and indeed this writ focuses on the orders issued by a higher court to lower courts or government officers. A writ of mandamus, in other words, compels a government body or official to perform duties that are required of them by law.


A writ of prohibition is exactly as it sounds—it is an order directing a lower court, agency, or official to stop doing something that the law prohibits.


When an appellate court sends a case to a lower court for them to proceed with judgment, they use a writ of procedendo to do so. This writ was one of the earliest ways to resolve issues of refusal or neglect on the part of a court.

Quo Warranto

Meaning “what is your authority,” a writ of quo warranto prevents an individual from holding an office they are not entitled to. An individual must show evidence that they have the authority to hold that office.

When delivering prerogative writs to lower courts, agencies, and officials, courts depend on process servers like those at Reliant Court Services. To learn more about our services, contact us today.