Digest of Benefit Entitlement Principles   Chapter 21 - Section 1

21.1.0 Evidence and proof defined

21.1.1 What we mean when we use the words evidence and proof

Evidence is the medium or means by which a fact is proved or disproved, while proof is the result or effect of evidence, in practice the terms are used interchangeably. Proof is the perfection of evidence for without evidence there is no proof, although there may be evidence that does not amount to proof Footnote 1 . For example a claimant may answer "No" to the question "Did you work?" and subsequently submit a record of employment showing a full working week for the same period of time. This report form will be evidence to show that the claimant made a false statement, but by itself will not be proof that the claimant made the statement knowing it to be false in the context of all the circumstances.

21.1.2 Evidence defined

Black's Law Dictionary defines evidence as:

  • All the means by which any alleged matter of fact, the truth of which is submitted to investigation, is established or disproved.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines evidence as:

  • Information, whether in the form of personal testimony, the language of documents, or the production of material objects, that is given in a legal investigation, to establish the fact or point in question.

These definitions are given in a legal context and generally refer to evidence given to, or before, a court of law. Our decisions are subject to review by both quasi-judicial and judicial tribunals, (Board of Referees, Umpire, Federal and Supreme Courts of Canada); consequently, while not bound by the strict rules of evidence used in a court of law, we are well advised to follow some the principles of evidence to ensure sound and consistent decision making.

21.1.3 Types of evidence

There are two types of evidence from which the truth as to the facts of a case may be found. One is direct evidence–such as the testimony of an eyewitness. The other is indirect or circumstantial evidence–the proof of a chain of circumstances pointing to the existence or non-existence of certain facts.

21.1.4 Direct evidence

Direct evidence is something that relates first hand to the fact that one wishes to prove or disprove. For example, someone who has witnessed an act can give direct evidence as to the occurrence of that act. Other examples of direct evidence include a statement from the claimant as to why he or she quit a job; a statement from the claimant's immediate supervisor as to why he or she was fired; a copy of a settlement agreement explaining exactly what moneys were paid to a claimant on separation and why.

21.1.5 Indirect evidence

Indirect evidence is something that cannot prove the primary fact, but which may prove other peripheral or related facts. For example, a person who has not witnessed an act can only give indirect evidence as to some related fact such as that the person was in the vicinity at the time in question or that the person had stated that he was going to perform the act.

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