Burden Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Burden, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Burden?

(n) Burden is the responsibility arising out of an obligation towards another party by a legal provision, social custom, morel responsibility etc to do some act or achieve certain results. Eg. Burden to look after the minor child, Burden to prove the allegation made against others.

History and Meaning of Burden

The term "burden" has been used in legal contexts for centuries. Essentially, it refers to a responsibility or obligation that one party has to another. This responsibility might arise from a legal provision, a social custom, a moral obligation, or some other source.

For example, if someone is appointed as the legal guardian of a minor child, they have a burden to look after that child and provide for their needs. Similarly, if someone accuses another person of wrongdoing, they have a burden to prove that accusation in court.

Examples of Burden

Here are a few examples of the term "burden" in action:

  • In a criminal trial, the prosecution has the burden of proving that the defendant committed the crime they are accused of.
  • When negotiating a contract, one party may try to shift the burden of liability onto the other party in case something goes wrong later on.
  • Some legal disputes arise when one party claims that the other party has breached a contractual or legal obligation, and the burden is on the aggrieved party to prove that breach.
  • In some contexts, the burden of proof might be higher or lower depending on the nature of the claim being made. For example, the burden of proof in a civil trial might be preponderance of the evidence, while in a criminal trial it might be beyond a reasonable doubt.

Legal Terms Similar to Burden

Here are a few related terms you might come across in legal contexts:

  • Duty: A similar concept to burden, duty refers to a moral or legal obligation to do something or refrain from doing something.
  • Obligation: Another term that refers to a legal or moral duty to do something, often used interchangeably with burden.
  • Onus: This term is sometimes used instead of "burden of proof," particularly in common law systems like Canada and Australia.
  • Liability: While not exactly the same as burden, liability refers to legal responsibility for something, whether it be a debt, an injury, or some other harm.
  • Proof: The burden of proof is often discussed in legal contexts in relation to what evidence is needed to prove or disprove a claim.