Duhaime's Law Dictionary


Adjudicative Fact Definition:

Basic, core facts that must be proven by a party.

Related Terms: Legislative Fact, Judicial Notice

Often distinguished from legislative facts:

"The distinction between (adjudicative facts) and a legislative fact must be noted. An adjudicative fact concerns the parties to a proceeding, as contrasted with a legislative fact which is general and broad and relates to the parties not as individuals or particular entities but unspecifically."1

In the context of criminal law, Justice Binnie in R v Spence described adjudicative facts as:

"... the where, when and why of what the accused is alleged to have done."

adjudicative factRelying on R. v Spence, the 2011 edition of the Canadian Encyclopedic Digest, under Evidence, proposes this summary of the law:

"There are three different types of fact that may be judicially noted. First, there are adjudicative facts, which are the primary facts that must be established in order for any party to prove its case. Second, there are legislative facts used to establish the background basis for legislation and provide an understanding of the social, economic and cultural context in which the law was enacted. Finally, there are social facts used to construct a frame of reference or background context for deciding factual issues crucial to the resolution of a particular case.

"Use of judicial notice to prove an adjudicative fact is the most controversial application of the doctrine, as it conclusively resolves a matter in a party's favour."

In the United States, the Federal Rule of Evidence, §201, provides that a trial court may take judicial notice of an adjudicative fact, provided that the judicially noticed fact is not subject to reasonable dispute in that it is generally known within the territorial jurisdiction of the court.

Justice Karlton of the United States District Court, in Grason Electric, used these words:

"Adjudicative facts are those to which the law is applied in the process of adjudication. They are the facts that normally go to the jury in a jury case."

In Moore v Moore, Justice Loiselle of the Supreme Court of Connecticut wrote:

"(A)uthorities have drawn a distinction between legislative facts, those which help determine the content of law and policy, and adjudicative facts, facts concerning the parties and events of a particular case. The former may be judicially noticed without affording the parties an opportunity to be heard, but the latter, at least if central to the case, may not."

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