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FACT Definition & Legal Meaning

Definition & Citations:

A thing done; an action performed or an Incident transpiring; an event or circumstance; an actual occurrence. In the earlier days of the law “fact” was used almost exclusively in the sense of “action”or “deed;” but, although this usage survives, in some such phrases as “accessary before the fact,” it lias now acquired the broader meaning given above.A fact is either a state of things, that is, an existence, or a motion, that is, an event.1 Benth. Jud. Ev. 48.In the law of evidence. A circumstance, event or occurrence as it actually takes or took place; a physical object or appearance, as it actually exists or existed. An actual and absolute reality, as distinguished from mere supposition or opinion; a truth, as distinguished from fiction or error. Burrill, Circ. Ev. 218.”Fact” is very frequently used in opposition or contrast to “law.” Thus, questions offact are for the jury ; questions of law for the court. So an attorney at laic is an officer of the courts of justice; an attorney in fact is appointed by the written authorization of a principal to manage business affairs usually not professional. Fraud in fact consists in an actual intention to defraud, carried into effect; while fraud imputed by law arises from the man’s conduct in its necessary relations and consequences.The word is much used in phrases which contrast it with law. Law is a principle; factis an event Law is conceived; fact is actual. Law is a rule of duty; fact is that which has been according to or in contravention of the rule. The distinction is well illustrated in  the rule that the existence of foreign laws is matter of fact. Within the territory of its  jurisdiction, law operates as an obligatory rule which judges must recognize and enforce; but, in a tribunal outside that jurisdiction, it loses its obligatory force and its claim to judicial notice. The fact that it exists, if important to the rights of parties, must be alleged and proved the same as the actual existence of any other institution. Abbott. The terms “fact” and “truth” are often used in common parlance as synonymous,but as employed in reference to pleading, they are widely different. A fact in pleading is a circumstance, act, event, or incident; a truth Is the legal principle which declares or governs the facts and their operative effect. Admitting the facts stated in a complaint the truth may be that the plaintiff is not entitled, upon the face of his complaint to what the claims. The mode in which a defendant sets up that truth for his protection is a demurrer. Drake v. Cockroft, 4 E. D. Smith (N. Y.) 37.


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