Burden of Proof

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Related to Preponderance of the evidence: Clear and convincing evidence, proof beyond a reasonable doubt

Burden of Proof


(Latin, onus probandi), in legal procedure, the rule by which the obligation to prove particular circumstances of a case is distributed among participants in the case. Under socialist law the distribution of burden of proof reflects the competitive nature of the judicial process and activates the court’s routine.

The law of the USSR establishes that each party in a civil trial must prove the circumstances on which he relies in substantiating his claims or defense. For example, the plaintiff must prove the circumstances constituting the grounds of the suit and the facts attesting to the defendant’s violation of his rights; the defendant must prove the grounds of his defense. In each specific case the scope of facts subject to proof by those participating in the case is determined by the norms that regulate the particular legal relationship (for example, in a suit for redress of an injury the burden of proof in showing the absence of guilt falls on the defendant). In suits relating to various types of contracts, the responsibility for proving violation of an obligation rests with the creditor; the debtor must prove the facts that confirm the fulfillment of his obligations. The court has the right to direct persons participating in the trial to submit additional evidence, and it may, on its own initiative, gather evidence to determine the true relationship between the parties. In a criminal trial, the law prohibits the court, procurator, investigator, or the person who conducted the inquiry from transferring the burden of proof to the accused.

The term “burden of proof is used in bourgeois civil procedure. This burden falls entirely on the parties, and the court plays no active part in questions of proof.

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