Duhaime's Law Dictionary


Omnia praesumuntur contra spoliatorem Definition:

Latin: All things are presumed against the individual who destroys evidence.

Related Terms: Spoliation

The destruction of evidence when litigation is pending or ongoing in known as spoliation, and the person doing so, the spoliator. Thus, omnia praesumuntur contra spoliatorem - all things are presumed against the spoliator so that he or she suffers the consequences of this destruction at trial and is not allowed to profit from their actions to defeat the proper conservation of evidence pending justice.

In Hirsch v GM, Justice Cummis of the Superior Court of New Jersey used these words:

"The spoliation inference is a product of the legal maxim omnia praesumuntur contra spoliatorem (all things are presumed against the destroyer)....The spoliation inference allows the fact finder to draw an unfavorable inference against the spoliating party. "

In McDougall v. Black & Decker Canada, Justice Madam Justice Conrad of the Court of Appeal of Alberta, wrote:

"The problem of lost or destroyed evidence is not new to litigation. In Rome, where businessmen were obliged to keep a written record of their affairs for a particular period of time, the maxim omnia praesumuntur contra spoliatorem (all things are presumed against the wrongdoer) was applied with much harshness and a claimant could be denied his claim, or found to have committed fraud, if he did not produce the documents when required. This maxim has been applied by the courts ever since, even in common law jurisdictions, although its strict application has moderated considerably over time."

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