Fact-finding is the job of a person or group of persons in a judicial or administrative proceeding that has or have the responsibility of determining the facts relevant to decide a controversy. The term trier of fact generally denotes the same function. The process is an extremely important part of the communication process.
Fact-finding was first established during the Hague Convention of 1907, which dealt with international commissions of inquiry.
Declaration on Fact-finding by the United Nations
On 9 December 1991, the General Assembly of the United Nations approved the Declaration on Fact-finding by the United Nations in the Field of the Maintenance of International Peace and Security. The resolution emphasized
...that the ability of the United Nations to maintain international peace and security depends to a large extent on its acquiring detailed knowledge about the factual circumstances of any dispute or situation.
There is also a range of fact-finding procedures in the United Nations relating to serious violations of human rights and humanitarian law, as well as fact-finding on the crimes of aggression, genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity which is carried out by the International Criminal Court. Professor Lyal S. Sunga discusses how UN human rights special procedures fact-finding can help the International Criminal Court find facts and how the two should be made complementary.
Triers of fact
The position of fact finder is determined by the type of proceeding. In a jury trial, it is the role of a jury in a jury trial. In a non-jury trial, the judge sits both as a fact-finder and as the trier of law. In administrative proceedings it may be a hearing officer or a hearing body.
Characteristics of fact-finding
- Law Dictionary: Fact-Finder. Accessed 17 November 2008.
- General Information on Fact-Finding Archived 4 August 2017 at the Wayback Machine. Colorado University. Accessed 17 November 2008.
- Ramcharan, B. G. (1983). International Law and Fact-finding in the Field of Human Rights. Martinus Nijhoff Publishers. pp. VII. ISBN 978-90-247-3042-1.
- United Nations. Declaration on Fact-finding by the United Nations in the Field of the Maintenance of International Peace and Security. 9 December 1991. Accessed 17 November 2008.
- Lyal S. Sunga, "How Can UN Human Rights Special Procedures Sharpen ICC Fact-Finding?" 15(2) The International Journal of Human Rights (2011) 187–204.
- Schultz, Norman. Fact-Finding. Accessed 17 November 2008
- "Resolution 46/59 Declaration of fact-finding missions". New York: UN. 9 December 1991.
Fact-finding should be comprehensive, objective, impartial and timely.
- Procedural history, related documents and photos on the Declaration on Fact-finding by the United Nations in the Field of the Maintenance of International Peace and Security in the Historic Archives of the United Nations Audiovisual Library of International Law