Crown Prerogative

… a core term in Governance and Institutions and Atlas100


Lorne Sossin, quoting Dicey (reference below), describes the Crown prerogative as “the residue of discretionary or arbitrary authority, which at any given time is legally left in the hands of the Crown.”

Sossin writes:

“The Crown prerogative once constituted the central source of executive authority in England and its colonial holdings. Today, it remains the source for a disparate set of executive powers, including foreign affairs (e.g. treaty-making and diplomatic appointments); defence and the armed forces (e.g. sending peacekeepers abroad); passports, pardons, and the prerogative of mercy; the hiring and dismissal of certain public officials; honours and titles; copyright over government publications; the law of heraldry; incorporating companies by royal charter; collecting tolls from bridges and ferries; and the right to proclaim holidays.

“…The scope of the Crown prerogative, over time, has been diminished. Since the House of Lords’ landmark ruling in A.G. v. De Keyser’s Royal Hotel ([1920] A.C. 508 (H.L.).), it has been well settled that the prerogative power of the Crown could be displaced by statute. Hogg and Monahan (reference below) set out six areas where the Crown prerogative power remains meaningful: powers relating to the legislature; powers relating to foreign affairs; powers relating to the armed forces; appointments and honours; immunities and privileges; and the emergency prerogative.” (p. 440)

Atlas topic, subject, and course

Constitutional Framework (core topic) in Governance and Institutions and Atlas100 Governance and Institutions.


Lorne Sossin (2002), The Rule of Law and the Justiciability of Prerogative Powers: A Comment on Black v. Chrétien, McGill Law Journal, 47, p. 435-456. Available at:, accessed 15 August 2016.

References cited by Sossin: A.V. Dicey, Introduction to the Study of the Law of the Constitution, 10th ed. (London: Macmillan, 1959) at 424. P.W. Hogg & P.J. Monahan, Liability of the Crown, 3d ed. (Toronto: Carswell, 2000) note 12 at 18-19.

Page created by: Ian Clark, last modified on 15 August 2016.