1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Information
INFORMATION (from Lat. informare, to give shape or form to, to represent, describe), the communication of knowledge; in English law, a proceeding on behalf of the crown against a subject otherwise than by indictment. A criminal information is a proceeding in the King’s bench by the attorney-general without the intervention of a grand jury. The attorney-general, or, in his absence, the solicitor-general, has a right ex officio to file a criminal information in respect of any indictments, but not for treason, felonies or misprision of treason. It is, however, seldom exercised, except in cases which might be described as “enormous misdemeanours,” such as those peculiarly tending to disturb or endanger the king’s government, e.g. seditions, obstructing the king’s officers in the execution of their duties, &c. In the form of the proceedings the attorney-general is said to “come into the court of our lord the king before the king himself at Westminster, and gives the court there to understand and be informed that, &c.” Then follows the statement of the offence as in an indictment. The information is filed in the crown office without the leave of the court. An information may also be filed at the instance of a private prosecutor for misdemeanours not affecting the government, but being peculiarly flagrant and pernicious. Thus criminal informations have been granted for bribing or attempting to bribe public functionaries, and for aggravated libels on public or private persons. Leave to file an information is obtained after an application to show cause, founded on a sworn statement of the material facts of the case.
Certain suits might also be filed in Chancery by way of information in the name of the attorney-general, but this species of information was superseded by Order 1, rule 1 of the Rules of the Supreme Court, 1883, under which they are instituted in the ordinary way. Informations in the Court of Exchequer in revenue cases, also filed by the attorney-general, are still resorted to (see A.-G. v. Williamson, 1889, 60 L.T. 930).