A Fact Finding Hearing is a type of court hearing that considers the evidence surrounding allegations, and the court will make a decision as to whether alleged incidents did or did not happen. Evidence is heard, which will normally include parties being cross-examined. After having heard the evidence, the judge will decide whether the alleged incidents happened or not.
Most commonly, these allegations concern domestic abuse. Domestic abuse includes neglect, emotional and physical harm and violence.
When making a decision the judge has to consider the allegations made by each side. It is for the person making the allegations to prove that they are true. The Judge will consider on the balance of probabilities whether the allegations are true or not. This means that the judge will consider whether it is more likely than not that the allegations are true.
In preparation for a Fact Finding Hearing the person making the allegations will be asked to send a list of the allegations to the court. The list should be:
- signed and dated
- each incident should be numbered and set out in date order stating the date of the incident and details of what happened and where
- details of any witnesses to the incident and involvement of the police and/or medical services
- the list should contain a statement that it is true.
The person against whom the allegations are made will then be asked to respond to the allegations within a set timeframe. You should respond to each allegation in turn, setting out your account of the incident or stating that the allegation is denied.
You will both be asked to make written statements based on your evidence setting out what you wish to say to the court. You can also have witnesses give evidence with the court’s permission.