Prima Facie Definition and Legal Meaning

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

What is Prima Facie?

It is a latin word meaning “At first sight or glance” or “on its face”. In common law, it is referred to the first piece of evidence or fact that is considered true unless revoked or contradicted .

History and Meaning of Prima Facie

Prima facie is a legal term that originates from Latin and means "at first sight" or "on its face." In the legal context, it is often used to refer to the evidence that is considered sufficient to establish a case or prove a fact unless there is sufficient evidence presented to disprove it. Prima facie evidence, therefore, is the evidence that is sufficient and mostly unquestionable upon first impression or initial observation of the fact.

The principle of prima facie has been used in the legal system for centuries. It is used to determine whether or not there is enough evidence to justify moving a case forward. In many cases, prima facie evidence is enough to establish the facts of the case and the evidence necessary to prove it.

Examples of Prima Facie

  1. In a personal injury lawsuit, if someone was struck by a car while crossing the street in a crosswalk, the prima facie evidence would be that the driver was at fault since the victim was following the law by using the crosswalk.
  2. In a breach of contract lawsuit, if one party can show that they performed the duties under the contract as agreed, then the prima facie evidence would be that the other party breached the contract.
  3. In a discrimination case, if an employee can show that they were not promoted despite being the most qualified candidate and another less-qualified employee of a different race was promoted instead, then the prima facie evidence would be that discrimination may have occurred.

Legal Terms Similar to Prima Facie

  1. Res Ipsa Loquitur: Latin for “the thing speaks for itself,” a common law doctrine that provides that the elements of duty, breach, and causation may be inferred from the mere fact of an accident or injury if the type of accident or injury would not have happened but for someone's negligence.
  2. Burden of Proof: The duty of a party in a legal proceeding to prove an assertion of fact or proving the truth of an issue.
  3. Presumption of Innocence: The principle that requires the prosecution to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty of the crime.