Briginshaw v Briginshaw [1938] HCA 34 | 30 June 1938

ON 30 JUNE 1938, the High Court of Australia delivered Briginshaw v Briginshaw [1938] HCA 34; (1938) 60 CLR 336 (30 June 1938).

Where serious or grave allegations are made in a civil case, the court must, when making findings of fact, apply the civil standard of proof but, depending on the nature of the issue, give serious consideration as to whether or not it has reached the necessary degree of reasonable satisfaction or persuasion that the alleged facts are more likely than not to exist.

Per Dixon J at 362:

[R]easonable satisfaction is not a state of mind that is attained or established independently of the nature and consequence of the fact or facts to be proved. The seriousness of an allegation made, the inherent unlikelihood of an occurrence of a given description, or the gravity of the consequences flowing from a particular finding are considerations which must affect the answer to the question whether the issue has been proved to the reasonable satisfaction of the tribunal. In such matters ‘reasonable satisfaction’ should not be produced by inexact proofs, indefinite testimony, or indirect inferences. Everyone must feel that, when, for instance, the issue is on which of two dates an admitted occurrence took place, a satisfactory conclusion may be reached on materials of a kind that would not satisfy any sound and prudent judgment if the question was whether some act had been done involving grave moral delinquency. …


Sydney, Australia

1300 00 2088