Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Ex Rel Definition:

Latin: on the relation of, or the information of.

An abbreviation of ex relatione Latin for on the information or relation of.

Often present in the style of cause of criminal proceedings, a proceeding brought by a state but acting upon the information or at the request of an individual, known as the relator.

For example, the 1942 United States Supreme Court case at 316 US 535:

  • Skinner v. Oklahama ex. rel. Williamson, Attorney General

Refers to information or action taken that is not based on first-hand experience but is based on the statement or account of another person.

For example, a criminal charge ex rel simply means that the attorney general of a state is prosecuting on the basis of a statement of a person other than the attorney general himself (or herself). Alternatively, a guardian or relative may take an action for the benefit of another.

Criminal law is not the only area of law in which ex. rel. is used. In matters of public nuisance, for example, the state may litigate against the person responsible for the nuisance acting on the complaint of another, referred to as the relator.

Shumaker's dictionary:

"Latin: at the information of; by the relation of."


  • Shumaker, Walter and Longsdorf, George Foster, The Cyclopedic Dictionary of Law Comprising the Terms and Phrases of American Jurisprudence, Including Ancient and Modern Common Law, International Law, and Numerous Select Titles From the Civil Law, the French and the Spanish Law, Etc., Etc. With an Exhaustive Collection of Legal Maxims, (St. Paul, Minnesota: Keefe- Davidson Law Book Company, 1901), page 338.

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