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In
law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and influenced by its environment, is described by its bounda ...
, a question of law, also known as a point of law, is a question that must be answered by applying relevant legal principles to interpretation of the law. Such a question is distinct from a question of fact, which must be answered by reference to facts and
evidence Evidence for a proposition In logic and linguistics, a proposition is the meaning of a declarative sentence (linguistics), sentence. In philosophy, "Meaning (philosophy), meaning" is understood to be a non-linguistic entity which is shared by a ...
as well as inferences arising from those facts. Answers to questions of law are generally expressed in terms of broad legal principles and can be applied to many situations rather than be dependent on particular circumstances or factual situations. An answer to a question of law as applied to the particular facts of a case is often referred to as a ''conclusion of law''. In several civil law jurisdictions, the highest courts deem questions of fact as having been settled by the lower courts and will only consider questions of law. They thus may refer a case back to a lower court to re-apply the law and answer any fact-based evaluations based on their answer on the application of the law. International courts such as the
Benelux Court of Justice The Benelux Court of Justice ( nl, Benelux Gerechtshof, french: Cour de Justice Benelux) is a court, which is common to the Benelux countries Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg. The organisation was established by the treaty of 31 March 1965. The ...
and the
European Court of Justice European, or Europeans, may refer to: In general * ''European'', an adjective referring to something of, from, or related to Europe ** Ethnic groups in Europe ** Demographics of Europe ** European cuisine, the cuisines of Europe and other Western ...

European Court of Justice
will only answer questions of law, asked by judges of national courts if they are not certain about the interpretation of the law of multilateral organizations. While questions of fact are resolved by a ''
trier of fact A trier of fact, or finder of fact, is a person, or group of persons, who determines what fact A fact is something that is true True most commonly refers to truth Truth is the property of being in accord with fact or reality.Merriam ...
'', which in the
common law In law, common law (also known as judicial precedent or judge-made law, or case law Case law is the collection of past legal decisions written by courts and similar tribunal A tribunal, generally, is any person or institution with authority ...
system is often a
jury A jury is a sworn body of people (the jurors) convened to render an impartial Impartiality (also called evenhandedness or fair-mindedness) is a principle of justice holding that decisions should be based on objectivity (philosophy), objective ...

jury
, questions of law are always resolved by a
judge A judge is a person who presides over court A court is any person or institution, often as a government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a State (polity), state. In th ...

judge
or equivalent. Whereas findings of fact in a common law legal system are rarely overturned by an
appellate court An appellate court, commonly called an ''appeals court'', ''court of appeals'' (American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of variety (linguistics ...
, conclusions of law are more readily reconsidered.


Question of fact

In
law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and influenced by its environment, is described by its bounda ...
, a question of fact, also known as a point of fact, is a question that must be answered by reference to facts and
evidence Evidence for a proposition In logic and linguistics, a proposition is the meaning of a declarative sentence (linguistics), sentence. In philosophy, "Meaning (philosophy), meaning" is understood to be a non-linguistic entity which is shared by a ...
as well as inferences arising from those facts. Such a question is distinct from a question of law, which must be answered by applying relevant legal principles. The answer to a question of fact (a "finding of fact") usually depends on particular circumstances or factual situations. All questions of fact are capable of proof or disproof by reference to a certain standard of proof. Depending on the nature of the matter, the standard of proof may require that a fact be proven to be "more likely than not" (there is barely more evidence for the fact than against, as established by a preponderance of the evidence) or true beyond
reasonable doubt Beyond a reasonable doubt is a legal standard of proof Burden of proof is a legal duty that encompasses two connected but separate ideas that apply for establishing the truth of facts in a trial before tribunals in the United States: the "burd ...
. Answers to questions of fact are determined by a ''
trier of fact A trier of fact, or finder of fact, is a person, or group of persons, who determines what fact A fact is something that is true True most commonly refers to truth Truth is the property of being in accord with fact or reality.Merriam ...
'' such as a
jury A jury is a sworn body of people (the jurors) convened to render an impartial Impartiality (also called evenhandedness or fair-mindedness) is a principle of justice holding that decisions should be based on objectivity (philosophy), objective ...

jury
, or a
judge A judge is a person who presides over court A court is any person or institution, often as a government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a State (polity), state. In th ...

judge
. In many
jurisdiction Jurisdiction (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be i ...
s, such as England and Wales,
appellate court An appellate court, commonly called an ''appeals court'', ''court of appeals'' (American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of variety (linguistics ...
s generally do not consider appeals based on errors of fact (errors in answering a question of fact). Rather, the findings of fact of the first venue are usually given great
deference Deference (also called submission or passivity) is the condition of submitting to the espoused, legitimate influence of one's superior or superiors. Deference implies a yielding or submitting to the judgment of a recognized superior, out of resp ...
by
appellate court An appellate court, commonly called an ''appeals court'', ''court of appeals'' (American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of variety (linguistics ...
s.
The distinction between "law" and "fact" has proved obscure wherever it is employed. For instance, the common law used to require that a plaintiff's complaint in a civil action only state the "facts" of his case, not any "legal conclusions." Unfortunately, no one has ever been able to tell whether the allegation that "on November 9, the defendant negligently ran over the plaintiff with his car at the intersection of State Street and Chestnut Street" is a statement of fact or a legal conclusion. In fact, the distinction between law and fact is just the legal version of the philosophical distinction between "empirical" and "analytical" statements, a distinction on whose existence philosophers have been unable to agree to this day. ... ... we will see that many defendants charged with impossible attempts are not in fact attempting the crime they are charged with attempting. They merely think they are committing a crime. ... The philosopher Alfred Lessing argues ...: ...


See also

* ''A priori'' and ''a posteriori'' *
Analytic–synthetic distinction The analytic–synthetic distinction is a semantic Semantics (from grc, σημαντικός ''sēmantikós'', "significant") is the study of reference Reference is a relationship between objects in which one object designates, or acts as ...
*
Case brief A brief (Old French from Latin "''brevis''", short) is a written law, legal document used in various legal adversarial systems that is presented to a court arguing why one party to a particular case should prevail. In England and Wales (and other ...
*
Demarcation problem In philosophy of science Philosophy of science is a branch of philosophy concerned with the foundations, methodology, methods, and implications of science. The central questions of this study concern Demarcation problem, what qualifies as s ...
*
Epistemology Epistemology (; ) is the Outline of philosophy, branch of philosophy concerned with knowledge. Epistemologists study the nature, origin, and scope of knowledge, epistemic Justification (epistemology), justification, the Reason, rationality o ...

Epistemology
* *
Fact–value distinction The fact–value distinction is a fundamental epistemological Epistemology (; ) is the branch of philosophy concerned with knowledge Knowledge is a familiarity or awareness, of someone or something, such as facts A fact is an occ ...
*
Falsifiability Falsifiability is a standard of evaluation of scientific theories and hypotheses that was introduced by the philosopher of science Karl Popper in his book The Logic of Scientific Discovery, ''Logik der Forschung'' (1934). He proposed it as the ...
*
Is–ought problem The is–ought problem, as articulated by the Scottish philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about Metaphysics, existence, r ...
*
Lord Advocate's Reference A Lord Advocate's Reference is a procedure by which the Lord Advocate , body = , insignia = Crest of the Kingdom of Scotland.svg , insigniasize = 110px , image = File:Official Portrait of Dorothy Bain QC.png , incumbent = Dorothy Bain Q ...
*
Problem of induction The problem of induction is the philosophical Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about existence Existence is the ability of an entity to interact with physical or mental reality ...


References

{{Portal bar, Law Evidence law Philosophy of law