Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Court of Record Definition:

A court of law which retains written records of its proceedings and which has the ability to fine or imprison.

Related Terms: Court

William Blackstone wrote, in his Commentaries on the Laws of England, Book 3:

"A court of record is that where acts and judicial proceedings are enrolled in parchment for a perpetual memorial and testimony; which rolls are called records of the court, and are of such high and supereminent authority that their truth is not to be called in question."

In Volume V of his A History of English Law, Holdsworth writes:

"It is the infallibility of its formal record which is the earliest mark of a court of record. But gradually the court of record developed other characteristics. Its record was kept upon a parchment roll. The method of questioning its decisions was a writ of error, while the method of questioning the decisions of courts not of record was a writ of false judgment. It alone could fine and imprison and this characteristic … is its most important characteristic at the present day."


  • Holdsworth, W. S., A History of English Law, Volume V (London: Methueun & Co., 1924), pages 157-158.

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