A rescript is a document that is issued not on the initiative of the author, but in response (it literally means 'written back') to a specific demand made by its addressee. It does not apply to more general legislation etcetera.


It may take various forms, from a formal document of an established type, such as a Papal Bull, to the forwarding of the demand with a simple mention by way of decision, something like "rejected" or "awarded", either to the party concerned or to the competent executive office to be carried out.

The word originated from the Roman imperial court, which often issued rescripts, in many cases prompted by its many governors and other officials. The other main field of application is the papal Roman Curia, which adopted many Roman administrative terms and practices. The Massachusetts appellate courts issue rescripts to the lower courts; these are the equivalent of mandates in federal appellate practice.

By analogy it is also applied to similar procedures in other contexts, such as the Chinese and Japanese imperial courts, or even before the Roman empire.

Papal rescripts

Rescripts are responses of the pope or a Sacred Congregation, in writing, to queries or petitions of individuals. Papal rescripts concern the granting of favours or the administration of justice under canon law.


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