Basic Tools and Concepts

Basic Form of Legal Proofs

Generally, legal proofs are a form of complex definitional proof. There are two parts to the proof: the first defines or proves the rule, the second proves that the object or case under consideration does or does not fit the rule.

Seen as a standard deductive syllogism, a typical legal proof can be illustrated as follows:

Major Premise (general rule)

  • May be statute
  • May be from common law using induction
  • May be combination of statute and its interpretation by courts (using induction)
  • May or may not require detailed proof

Major Premise is Applied to:
Minor Premise

  • The specific facts of the case under consideration.
  • Use analogical reasoning to test facts against rule by comparing to other situations that have applied the same rule to similar facts.

Use Reasoning by Analogy to Reach:
Conclusion