Is "prima facie case" only used in the context of criminal law? Or can it be used in administrative and/or civil law?

1 Answer 1


The concept of prima facie is common also in civil proceedings (and, impliedly, administrative ones).

See the results from this query, most of which are civil cases. For instance, this memorandum opinion begins by acknowledging that the plaintiff-appellees "have met their burden of establishing a prima facie case for defamation".

In theory, the purpose of prima facie elements is to establish "high-level" uniformity as to what items a plaintiff or prosecutor, as the case may be, will need to prove in order to prevail in a case. That uniformity is necessary for --and consistent with-- the so-called "equal protection of the laws". From a standpoint of equal protection, there is no reason why a case being criminal vs. civil should make a difference regarding the applicability of the concept of prima facie elements.

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    As an example of an administrative law situation, the concept of "prima facie" argument is used in patent law in ex parte procedures between an applicant and a USPTO patent examiner. Nov 7, 2019 at 16:49

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