Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Dedimus Potestatem de Attornato Faciendo Definition:

Latin: to substitute an attorney.

Related Terms: Essoin

An ancient common law exemption from the requirement to attend any court summons in person allowing, instead, representation by an attorney.

"Before (1285), plaintiffs and defendants were bound to appear in person unless authorised, by the King's writ of dedimus potestatem de attornato faciendo, to substitute an attorney.

"Once before the Court, they were at liberty to avail themselves of the assistance of a countor (pleader), who might stand by them, advise with them, and speak for them."1

Archibald Brown’s 1874 law dictionary:

“At common law, the parties in an action were obliged to appear in court in person, unless allowed by a special warrant from the Crown (bearing the title DEDIMUS POTESTATEM DE ATTORNATO FACIENDO) to appoint an attorney.”

John Poserina wrote:

"(I)n the common law ... if a suitor were too ill or otherwise too incapacitated to appear, the Justices were directed to send one of their number to him to obtain evidence of his appointment of an attorney.

"Because of the inconvenience, the difficulty was solved by the exercise of royal grace. For a consideration, the King's writ of Dedimus Potestatem de Attornato Faciendo might be purchased. These writs were issued by the Chancellor, and were originally confined to the appointment of an attorney to conduct a single particular suit.

"To enlarge the scope of the writ of dedimus potestatem so as to allow a man to appoint an attorney to act for him generally in any suit in which he might be involved at any future time was but a short step."


  • Brown, Archibald, A New Law Dictionary and Institute of the Whole Law for the Use of Students, the Legal Profession and the Public (London: Stevens & Sons, 1874), Page 113
  • NOTE 1: Doe v Hale, 117 ER 444
  • Posinera, John, Appointed Attorney General's Power to Supersede an Elected District Attorney, 33 Temp. L.Q. 78 (1959-1960)

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