Question of fact
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In law, a question of fact, also known as a point of fact, is a question which must be answered by reference to facts and evidence, and inferences arising from those facts. Such a question is distinct from a question of law, which must be answered by applying relevant legal principles. The answer to a question of fact (a "finding of fact") is usually dependent on particular circumstances or factual situations.
To illustrate the difference:
- Question of fact: Did Mr. and Mrs. Jones leave their 10-year-old child home alone with their baby for 4 days?
- Question of law: Does leaving a baby with a 10-year-old child for 4 days fit the legal definition of child neglect?
After hearing evidence, a U.S. court may issue a "Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law," which separately examines the factual issues and then draws a legal conclusion. In the above example, the court might write that the facts have been established to a required standard of proof that Mr. and Mrs. Jones left their 10 year old child home alone with a baby for several days. The conclusion of law would then follow, outlining the given child neglect statute that Mr. and Mrs. Jones violated.
All questions of fact are capable of proof or disproof, by reference to a certain standard of proof. Depending on the nature of the matter, the standard of proof may require that a fact be proven to be "more likely than not", that is there is barely more evidence for the fact than against, as established by a preponderance of the evidence; or true beyond reasonable doubt.
Answers to questions of fact are determined by a trier of fact, such as a jury, or a judge. In many jurisdictions, such as the United Kingdom, appellate courts generally do not consider appeals based on errors of fact (errors in answering a question of fact). Rather, the findings of fact of the first venue are usually given great deference by appellate courts.
- "Question of fact". Legal Information Institute. Cornell University Law School. Retrieved 11 November 2014.
- Sharma, Riecha; Tacey, Sam. "The Decision is Final: English High Court Rules That There Can Be No Appeal Against Arbitration Awards on Issues of Fact". edwardswildman.com. Edwards Wildman Palmer. Retrieved 11 November 2014.
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