Prima facie

Prima facie (/ˈpraɪmə ˈfeɪʃii, -ʃə, -ʃiː/; from Latin prīmā faciē) is a Latin expression meaning on its first encounter or at first sight.[1] The literal translation would be "at first face" or "at first appearance", from the feminine forms of primus ("first") and facies ("face"), both in the ablative case. In modern, colloquial and conversational English, a common translation would be "on the face of it". The term prima facie is used in modern legal English (including both civil law and criminal law) to signify that upon initial examination, sufficient corroborating evidence appears to exist to support a case. In common law jurisdictions, prima facie denotes evidence that, unless rebutted, would be sufficient to prove a particular proposition or fact. The term is used similarly in academic philosophy. Most legal proceedings, in most jurisdictions, require a prima facie case to exist, following which proceedings may then commence to test it, and create a ruling.[2]

Burden of proof

In most legal proceedings, one party has a burden of proof, which requires it to present prima facie evidence for all of the essential facts in its case. If it cannot, its claim may be dismissed without any need for a response by other parties.[2] A prima facie case might not stand or fall on its own; if an opposing party introduces other evidence or asserts an affirmative defense it can only be reconciled with a full trial. Sometimes the introduction of prima facie evidence is informally called making a case or building a case.

For example, in a trial under criminal law the prosecution has the burden of presenting prima facie evidence of each element of the crime charged against the defendant. In a murder case, this would include evidence that the victim was in fact dead, that the defendant's act caused the death, and evidence that the defendant acted with malice aforethought. If no party introduces new evidence, the case stands or falls just by the prima facie evidence or lack thereof, respectively.

Prima facie evidence does not need to be conclusive or irrefutable: at this stage, evidence rebutting the case is not considered, only whether any party's case has enough merit to take it to a full trial.

In common law jurisdictions such as the United Kingdom and the United States, the prosecution in a criminal trial must disclose all evidence to the defense. This includes the prima facie evidence.

An aim of the doctrine of prima facie is to prevent litigants from bringing spurious charges which simply waste all other parties' time.

Res ipsa loquitur

Prima facie is often confused with res ipsa loquitur ("the thing speaks for itself", or literally "the thing itself speaks"), the common law doctrine that when the facts make it self-evident that negligence or other responsibility lies with a party, it is not necessary to provide extraneous details, since any reasonable person would immediately find the facts of the case.

The difference between the two is that prima facie is a term meaning there is enough evidence for there to be a case to answer, while Res ipsa loquitur means that the facts are so obvious a party does not need to explain any more. For example: "There is a prima facie case that the defendant is liable. They controlled the pump. The pump was left on and flooded the plaintiff's house. The plaintiff was away and had left the house in the control of the defendant. Res ipsa loquitur."

This doctrine has been subsumed by general negligence law in Canadian tort law.

Use in academic philosophy

The phrase is also used in academic philosophy. Among its most notable uses is in the theory of ethics first proposed by W. D. Ross, often called the Ethic of Prima Facie Duties, as well as in epistemology, as used, for example, by Robert Audi. It is generally used in reference to an obligation. "I have a prima facie obligation to keep my promise and meet my friend" means that I am under an obligation, but this may yield to a more pressing duty. A more modern usage prefers the title pro tanto obligation: an obligation that may be later overruled by another more pressing one; it exists only pro tempore.

Other uses and references

Example photo 1 of a prima facie speed limit - Rapid River, Michigan (United States)
Example of a prima facie speed limit posted in Rapid River, Michigan (United States)

The phrase prima facie is sometimes misspelled prima facia in the mistaken belief that facia is the actual Latin word; however, faciē is in fact the ablative case of faciēs, a fifth declension Latin noun.

In policy debate theory, prima facie is used to describe the mandates or planks of an affirmative case, or, in some rare cases, a negative counterplan. When the negative team appeals to prima facie, it appeals to the fact that the affirmative team cannot add or amend anything in its plan after being stated in the first affirmative constructive.

A common usage of the phrase is the concept of a "prima facie speed limit", which has been used in Australia and the United States. A prima facie speed limit is a default speed limit that applies when no other specific speed limit is posted, and may be exceeded by a driver. However, if the driver is detected, and cited by police for exceeding the limit, the onus of proof is on the driver, to show that the speed at which the driver was travelling was safe under the circumstances. In most jurisdictions, this type of speed limit has been replaced by absolute speed limits.

See also


  1. ^ "What is Prima Facie?". The Law Dictionary. Retrieved 17 January 2019.
  2. ^ a b "Prima Facie Legal Definition". Legal Dictionary: The Free Dictionary. Retrieved 17 January 2019.

Further reading

  • Herlitz, Georg Nils (1994). "The meaning of the term prima facie". Louisiana Law Review. 55: 391.
  • Audi, Robert (2003). Epistemology: A Contemporary Introduction (Second ed.). Routledge. p. 27.
Alasdair Cochrane

Alasdair Cochrane (born 31 March 1978) is a British political theorist and ethicist who is currently a senior lecturer in political theory in the Department of Politics at the University of Sheffield. He is known for his work on animal rights from the perspective of political theory, which is the subject of his two books: An Introduction to Animals and Political Theory (2010, Palgrave Macmillan) and Animal Rights Without Liberation (2012, Columbia University Press). His third book, Sentienist Politics, will be published by Oxford University Press in 2018. He is a founding member of the Centre for Animals and Social Justice, a UK-based think tank focussed on furthering the social and political status of nonhuman animals. He joined the Department at Sheffield in 2012, having previously been a faculty member at the Centre for the Study of Human Rights, London School of Economics.

Cochrane's work forms part of the political turn in animal ethics—that is, the emergence of academic literature exploring the normative aspects of human/nonhuman animal relationships from a political perspective. He is known for his interest-based account of animal rights, a theory of justice according to which animals have rights based on their possession of normatively-significant interests. The account is a two-tiered one, with individuals' strong interests grounding prima facie rights, and some prima facie rights becoming concrete, or all-things-considered, rights. In this picture, the violation of concrete rights, but not necessarily prima facie rights, represents an injustice. In particular, Cochrane argues that sentient animals' interests against suffering and death ground prima facie rights against the infliction of suffering and death. These prima facie rights convert to concrete rights in, for example, animal agriculture and animal testing, meaning that killing nonhuman animals or making them suffer for these purposes is unjust.

Cochrane argues that nonhuman animals do not possess an intrinsic interest in freedom. Therefore, owning or using nonhuman animals is not, in itself, unjust. This aspect of his thought has generated responses by others, including the political theorist Robert Garner and the philosopher John Hadley, who argue that there may be reasons to claim that nonhuman animals do possess an interest in freedom. Cochrane has also proposed a cosmopolitan alternative to Sue Donaldson and Will Kymlicka's picture of a political animal rights, explicated in their 2011 book Zoopolis. Though Donaldson and Kymlicka have defended their account against Cochrane's criticism, they have said that they welcome attempts to develop alternative political theories of animal rights to their own. Cochrane's other research focusses variously on bioethics, punishment, just war and human rights.

Applied ethics

Applied ethics refers to the practical application of moral considerations. It is ethics with respect to real-world actions and their moral considerations in the areas of private and public life, the professions, health, technology, law, and leadership. For example, the bioethics community is concerned with identifying the correct approach to moral issues in the life sciences, such as euthanasia, the allocation of scarce health resources, or the use of human embryos in research. Environmental ethics is concerned with ecological issues such as the responsibility of government and corporations to clean up pollution. Business ethics includes questions regarding the duties or duty of 'whistleblowers' to the general public or their loyalty to their employers.Applied ethics has expanded the study of ethics beyond the realms of academic philosophical discourse. The field of applied ethics, as it appears today, emerged from debate surrounding rapid medical and technological advances in the early 1970s and is now established as a subdiscipline of moral philosophy. However, applied ethics is, by its very nature, a multi-professional subject because it requires specialist understanding of the potential ethical issues in fields like medicine, business or information technology. Nowadays, ethical codes of conduct exist in almost every profession.An applied ethics approach to the examination of moral dilemmas can take many different forms but one of the most influential and most widely utilised approaches in bioethics and health care ethics is the four-principle approach developed by Tom Beauchamp and James Childress. The four-principle approach, commonly termed principlism, entails consideration and application of four prima facie ethical principles: autonomy, non-maleficence, beneficence, and justice.


A chargesheet is a preparation document of accusation prepared by law-enforcement agencies in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. It is distinct from the First Information Report (FIR) (which is the core document describes a crime that has been committed), usually refers to one or more FIRs, and charges an individual or organization for (some or all of) the crimes specified in those FIR(s). Once the chargesheet has been submitted to a court of law, the court decides as to who among the accused has sufficient prima facie evidence against him to be put on trial. After the court pronounces its order on framing of charges, prosecution proceedings against the accused begin in the judicial system.


Cognizance may refer to:

Cognizance, a heraldic badge, emblem, or device formerly worn by retainers of a royal or noble house

Cognizance (law), the action of taking judicial notice, satisfaction to court from the available materials as to the existence of prima facie to proceed further for any enquiry or trial

Church of Cognizance, a church founded in 1991

Disparate treatment

Disparate treatment is one kind of unlawful discrimination in US labor law. In the United States, it means unequal behavior toward someone because of a protected characteristic (e.g. race or gender) under Title VII of the United States Civil Rights Act. This contrasts with disparate impact, where an employer applies a neutral rule that treats everyone equally in form, but has a disadvantageous effect on some people of a protected characteristic compared to others.

Title VII prohibits employers from treating applicants or employees differently because of their membership in a protected class. A disparate treatment violation is made out when an individual of a protected group is shown to have been singled out and treated less favorably than others similarly situated on the basis of an impermissible criterion under Title VII. The issue is whether the employer's actions were motivated by discriminatory intent. Discriminatory intent can either be shown by direct evidence, or through indirect or circumstantial evidence.

Indictable offence

In many common law jurisdictions (e.g., England and Wales, Ireland, Canada, Hong Kong, India, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Singapore), an indictable offence is an offence which can only be tried on an indictment after a preliminary hearing to determine whether there is a prima facie case to answer or by a grand jury (in contrast to a summary offence). In the United States, a crime of similar severity and rules is called a felony, which also requires an indictment.

Interdicts in Scots law

In Scots law, an interdict is a court order to stop someone from breaching someone else's rights. They can be issued by the Court of Session or a Sheriff Court. The equivalent term in England is an injunction. A temporary interdict is called an interim interdict. A court will grant an interim interdict if there is a prima facie case and on the balance of convenience the remedy should be granted. Breaching an interdict can result in a fine or imprisonment.

Iris Oifigiúil

Iris Oifigiúil (Irish pronunciation: [ˈirʲəʃ ˈefʲəɡʲuːlʲ]; Official Journal) is the official gazette of the Government of Ireland. It replaced The Dublin Gazette, the gazette of the Dublin Castle administration, on 31 January 1922. The Belfast Gazette was established for the same purpose in the newly created Northern Ireland on 7 June 1921.

Iris Oifigiúil is sometimes referred to as the Irish State Gazette in English and has been issued twice weekly on Tuesdays and Fridays since 1922. Prima facie evidence on notices of government business are published in the newspaper; these include orders, rules, and proclamations.

The paper is published as a hard copy by the Office of Public Works. Since 2002, most contents are also published in the online edition. An exception is notices of naturalization: these are required under the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956 but online publication was stopped in 2016 on data privacy grounds.

Market share liability

Market share liability is a legal doctrine that allows a plaintiff to establish a prima facie case against a group of product manufacturers for an injury caused by a product, even when the plaintiff does not know from which defendant the product originated. The doctrine is unique to the law of the United States and apportions liability among the manufacturers according to their share of the market for the product giving rise to the plaintiff's injury.

McDonnell Douglas burden-shifting

McDonnell Douglas burden-shifting or the McDonnell-Douglas burden-shifting framework refers to the procedure for adjudicating a motion for summary judgement under a Title VII disparate treatment claim, in particular a "private, non-class action challenging employment discrimination", that lacks direct evidence of discrimination. It was introduced by the United States Supreme Court in McDonnell Douglas v. Green and Texas Dept. of Community Affairs v. Burdine and has been elaborated on in subsequent cases.

The McDonnell-Douglas framework is typically used when a case lacks direct evidence of discrimination. In other cases, courts may decide not to use the McDonnell-Douglas framework, and instead evaluate disparate treatment claims under the Price Waterhouse "mixed motive" framework.

Moderate objectivism

The Moderate objectivism account of moral principles is based on the ethics of Sir William David Ross (1877–1940). Moderate objectivism adheres to basic notions of the Natural Law Theory. W. D. Ross refers to these moderate objectivists' accounts of moral principles as “prima facie principles” which are valid rules of action that one should generally adhere to but, in cases of moral conflict, may be overridable by another moral principle, hence the moderation.

Office of the Law Revision Counsel

The Office of the Law Revision Counsel of the United States House of Representatives prepares and publishes the United States Code, which is a consolidation and codification by subject matter of the general and permanent laws of the United States. The Office was created in 1974 when the provisions of Title II, sec. 205, of H. Res. 988, 93rd United States Congress, were enacted by Public Law 93-554, 88 Stat. 1777.

The counsel is appointed by the Speaker of the House and must

prepare, and submit to the Committee on the Judiciary one title at a time, a complete compilation, restatement, and revision of the general and permanent laws of the United States which conforms to the understood policy, intent, and purpose of the Congress in the original enactments, with such amendments and corrections as will remove ambiguities, contradictions, and other imperfections both of substance and of form, separately stated, with a view to the enactment of each title as positive law."

The counsel takes each Act of Congress that covers more than one subject, and makes the revisions indicated to each title of the United States Code. The counsel also regularly reviews the United States Code and proposes new titles to be enacted as positive law (meaning that they would displace all prior statutes on the same subject and become the law itself). Some proposed titles are simply updates of U.S.C. titles that were previously codified as prima facie evidence of the statutory law but have not yet been enacted as positive law. Other proposed titles collect the substance of all existing statutes on a particular subject from across the U.S.C. and the Statutes at Large into a new title.

The current counsel, Ralph V. Seep, was appointed by Speaker John Boehner, effective June 2, 2011.

Prima facie right

A prima facie right is a right that can be outweighed by other considerations. It stands in contrast with absolute rights, which cannot be outweighed by anything. Some authors consider an absolute right as a prima facie right, but one that cannot be outweighed in any possible situation. It is also maintained that all men always have a prima facie rights to liberty, security, and life but they do not constitute actual rights if there are stronger prima facie rights or moral considerations that supervene. An act may also be viewed as prima facie right but viewed in others as prima facie wrong.

Rebuttable presumption

Both in common law and in civil law, a rebuttable presumption (in Latin, praesumptio iuris tantum) is an assumption made by a court that is taken to be true unless someone comes forward to contest it and prove otherwise. For example, a defendant in a criminal case is presumed innocent until proved guilty. A rebuttable presumption is often associated with prima facie evidence.

Res ipsa loquitur

In the common law of torts, res ipsa loquitur (Latin for "the thing speaks for itself") is a doctrine that infers negligence from the very nature of an accident or injury in the absence of direct evidence on how any defendant behaved. Although modern formulations differ by jurisdiction, common law originally stated that the accident must satisfy the necessary elements of negligence: duty, breach of duty, causation, and injury. In res ipsa loquitur, the elements of duty of care, breach, and causation are inferred from an injury that does not ordinarily occur without negligence.

Sarvartha Chintamani

Sarvartha Chintamani

is one of the important books of astrology belonging to ancient India. Written in Sanskrit verse it deals with the effects of each house in the natal chart in far greater detail besides giving the description about the planets, their effects, lifespan and prosperity. However, it makes a clear distinction between benefic and malefic indications and their impact, although that distinction may be prima facie indicating contrary results.

Speed limits in the United States

Speed limits in the United States are set by each state or territory. States have also allowed counties and municipalities, to enact typically lower limits. Highway speed limits can range from an urban low of 25 mph (40 km/h) to a rural high of 85 mph (137 km/h). Speed limits are typically posted in increments of five miles per hour (8 km/h). Some states have lower limits for trucks and at night, and occasionally there are minimum speed limits.

The highest speed limits are generally 70 mph (113 km/h) on the West Coast and the inland eastern states, 75–80 mph (121–129 km/h) in inland western states, along with Arkansas, Louisiana, and Oklahoma. 65–70 mph (105–113 km/h) on the Eastern Seaboard. Alaska, Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, and Vermont have a maximum limit of 65 mph (105 km/h), and Hawaii has a maximum limit of 60 mph (97 km/h). The District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands have a maximum speed limit of 55 mph (89 km/h). Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands and American Samoa have speed limits of 45 mph (72 km/h). Two territories in the U.S. Minor Outlying Islands have their own speed limits: 40 mph (64 km/h) in Wake Island, and 15 mph (24 km/h) in Midway Atoll. Unusual for any state east of the Mississippi River, much of I-95 in Maine north of Bangor allows up to 75 mph (121 km/h), and the same is true for up to 600 miles of freeways in Michigan. Portions of the Idaho, Montana, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming road networks have 80 mph (129 km/h) posted limits. The highest posted speed limit in the country is 85 mph (137 km/h) and can be found only on the Texas State Highway 130.

During World War II, the U.S. Office of Defense Transportation established a national 35 mph "Victory Speed Limit" to conserve gasoline and rubber for the American war effort, from May 1942 to August 1945, when the war ended. For 13 years (January 1974–April 1987), federal law withheld Federal highway trust funds to states that had speed limits above 55 mph (89 km/h). From April 1987 to December 8, 1995, an amended federal law allowed speed limits up to 65 mph on rural Interstate and rural roads built to Interstate highway standards.

Virginia v. Black

Virginia v. Black, 538 U.S. 343 (2003), is a First Amendment case decided in the Supreme Court of the United States. Three defendants were convicted in two separate cases of violating a Virginia statute against cross burning. In this case, the Court struck down that statute to the extent that it considered cross burning as prima facie evidence of intent to intimidate. Such a provision, the Court argued, blurs the distinction between proscribable "threats of intimidation" and the Ku Klux Klan's protected "messages of shared ideology." However, cross-burning can be a criminal offense if the intent to intimidate is proven. It was argued by former Solicitor General of Virginia, William Hurd.

W. D. Ross

Sir William David Ross, (15 April 1877 – 5 May 1971), known as David Ross but usually cited as W. D. Ross, was a Scottish philosopher who is known for his work in ethics. His best-known work is The Right and the Good (1930), and he is perhaps best known for developing a pluralist, deontological form of intuitionist ethics in response to G. E. Moore's consequentialist form of intuitionism. Ross also critically edited and translated a number of Aristotle's works, in addition to writing on Greek philosophy.

His accomplishments include his work with John Alexander Smith on a 12-volume translation of Aristotle.

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