Does a Judge Always Need Proof That a Fact Is True?

The Principle of Judicial Notice Allows a Judge to Accept a Fact As True Where the Fact Is So Notoriously As True and Uncontroversial That Evidence Is Unnecessary.

Understanding the Principle Known As Taking Judicial Notice Without Evidence of Notoriously Known Truths

Lawsuit Document Water is wet, the Sun is bright, gasoline is flammable, seasons occur because the Earth is tilted, among other notoriously known facts, rarely require proof by evidence or expert testimony within a legal proceeding.  These notoriously known facts are facts for which a court may take judicial notice, meaning accept as true without evidence.

The Law

The circumstances or legal criteria required for a judge to determine that a fact may be deemed true by judicial notice rather than via some form of actual evidence was explained within, among other cases, Taylor v. Hanley Hospitality Inc., 2022 ONCA 376, wherein it was said:


[30]  The concept of judicial notice allows a court to receive “facts” that are “so notorious or uncontroversial that evidence of their existence is unnecessary”. This does not allow parties “to put before the court controversial evidence to the prejudice of the opposing party without providing a proper opportunity for its truth to be tested”: Public School Boards’ Assn. of Alberta v. Alberta (Attorney General), 2000 SCC 2, [2000] 1 S.C.R. 44, at para. 5. The threshold for judicial notice is strict since the facts are not proved by evidence under oath nor tested by cross-examination: R. v. Find, 2001 SCC 32, [2001] S.C.R. 863, at para. 48.

As shown within the Taylor case, a court is permitted to accept a fact as true without proof, by taking judicial notice, when the fact is so well known as true that proof becomes unnecessary.

Summary Comment

Judicial notice is a common law doctrine that allows a court to accept facts as true without the need of evidentiary proof.

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