Being a Latin term, Prima facie literally means ‘at first face’ or ‘at first appearance’.
In law, Prima Facie is a term used to describe the apparent nature of something upon the first glance.
Prima facie can be defined as something that is true or sufficient at the first impression to form a fact or a case unless such case is rebutted or disproved.
In law, Prima facie is generally used to describe the following things-
- Presenting sufficient evidence by a civil claimant to support his legal claim
(a Prima facie case), or
- an evidence that supports his claim ( that serves as the Prima facie evidence).
For example- If in a case of murder, the prosecution presents a vedio tape of the accused threatening the victim to kill, such evidence shall serve as a Prima facie evidence because it clearly shows the intent of the accused to kill. On its face, the evidence indicates that the defendant had a clear intention of killing the victim.
What is a Prima Facie Case?
As the term Prima facie translates to a fact at first sight, as the phrase explains, it is a way to evaluate a case at an initial stage to ascertain if there is any support to bring it to a trial.
In a Prima facie case, the burden of proof lies on the party presenting the Prima facie case that can provide enough evidence to support a verdict in its favour, assuming the opposing party does not rebut or disproves it. This shows that the party with the burden of proof has shown that they can meet the burden ( prove the happening of the incident/crime) as to each element of his or her case.
However, being able to successfully present a Prima facie case does not guarantees that a party would win the case. The opposing party then has the opportunity to present evidence that rebuts the other party’s prima facie case.
On the other hand, the party with the burden of Proof then has the opportunity to attack the contradiction ( rebuttal) and the rebutting evidence and prove his or her case.