Legal Fiction Definition and Legal Meaning

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

What is Legal Fiction?

(n) Legal fiction is the presumption of facts arrived based on the circumstantial evidence or situation prevailing in that case, with an objective to achieve justice.

History and Meaning of Legal Fiction

Legal fiction is a concept used in law where a legal decision is based on a presumption of facts that is created in order to arrive at a just outcome for a case. This means that the court can make assumptions based on the circumstances of the case even if they are not necessarily true or accurate.

The concept of legal fiction dates back to ancient Rome, where it was used as a way to bypass legal rules that were no longer applicable or were deemed unjust. Over time, it has been used in common law systems across the world to adapt to changing social and cultural norms.

Examples of Legal Fiction

  1. The legal fiction of "having knowledge of the law" presumes that all citizens of a particular country are aware of the laws of the land, even if they have not studied or read them.

  2. The concept of persona ficta is a legal fiction where a corporation is treated as a separate legal entity from its owners or shareholders.

  3. In inheritance law, the legal fiction of "ademption" assumes that a gift specified in a will has been revoked or taken away if the property is no longer in the testator's estate at the time of their death.

Legal Terms Similar to Legal Fiction

  1. Presumption of Law: a legal principle by which a court assumes that certain facts are true unless they are proven otherwise.

  2. Judicial Notice: a doctrine by which facts can be assumed to be true without evidence being presented, often used for commonly known facts.

  3. Constructive Trust: a legal fiction that is created by a court in order to prevent unjust enrichment, where the court imposes a trust on the property.