Presumption in law

Presumption in law: Presumption is a conclusion which may or must be drawn from given set of facts until the contrary is proved. Presumption is used to designate an inference, affirmative or non-affirmative, of the existence of some fact, drawn by a judicial tribunal through a process of probable reasoning from some matter of fact either judicially noticed or admitted or established by legal evidence, to the satisfaction of the tribunal.

Types of presumption of law

  1. Presumption of law
  2. Irrebuttable presumptions of law
  3. Rebuttable presumptions of law

Presumptions in law of evidence

  1. presumption of innocence
  2. Presumption of validity of marriage
  3. Presumption of sanity
  4. Presumption of legitimacy
  5. Presumption of death
  6. Presumption of regularity – Omnia Praesumuntur Rite esse Acta
  7. Presumption of negligence

Presumption of law example

A presumption of law is one which is prescribed by law and which must be drawn in the absence of any evidence to the contrary. It should be noted that the effect of presumptions generally is to establish a fact as proved even though no evidence has been offered in proof thereof. It is often said that, presumptions operate as a substitute for evidence.

However, in Abubakar v Yar’adua, the Supreme Court provided a comprehensive signification of presumption and its consequences in the following words:

“A presumption of law is merely an invocation of a rule compelling a fact-finder to reach a particular conclusion in the absence of evidence to the contrary. It otherwise means a mandatory deduction which law directs to be made having regard to rules of law and practice laid down for courts’ use. It is a procedural device, which takes the place of evidence in certain cases until the facts in lieu of which the presumption operates are shown.

Presumption of law is in fact a preliminary rule of law which may disappear in the face of rebuttal (sic-rebutting) evidence. However, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, the presumption stands.

Irrebuttable presumption

If a presumption is an irrebuttable presumption of law, it means that if a certain fact is proved, then the court must draw a certain conclusion from the proved fact and such conclusions are conclusive, unquestionable and incontrovertible.

However, the court is under the mandate or obligation to draw such conclusions and no evidence is receivable to dislodge, upset or negative such presumptions. Irrebuttable presumptions of law are expressed in the Latin maxim, presumptiones juris et de jure.

Presumption of fact

A presumption of fact, is the logical inference of the existence of one fact from the proved existence of other facts; and in most cases, presumptions of fact exist as examples of circumstantial evidence. In other words, a presumption of fact is essentially, an inference from circumstantial evidence which is usually resorted to in the absence of direct evidence to establish the guilt of the accused person for stealing or receiving stolen property. A number of these presumptions are provided for in Section 167 of the act and it is proposed to list them briefly.

  1. Presumption relating to possession of stolen property
  2. Presumption of continuance
  3. Presumption as to course of business
  4. Presumption of withholding evidence
  5. Presumption relating to document creating obligation
  6. Presumptions relating to documents

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