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Title: The probative value of the parties' declarations in marriage nullity cases according to canonical and civil procedural law
Authors: Fenech, Ingrid (2012)
Keywords: Civil procedure -- Malta
Marriage -- Annulment (Canon law)
Law and ethics
Issue Date: 2012
Abstract: The attainment of justice is the ultimate end of all judicial proceedings and such justice can only be realised once the truth has been established, acknowledged and verified by the adjudicator, thus enabling the latter to arrive at a decision which not only reflects such truth but also brings satisfactory closure to the matter being contested. Being of essence to justice, the importance of truth has long been acknowledged by jurists and canonists, as shown by the 17th century canonist Agostino Barbosa when he opined that: “Truth is the basis, foundation, and mother of justice.” In all judicial proceedings, the judge is enabled to arrive at the truth after having examined the evidence brought before him by the parties involved in a judicial action. However, such evidence, usually intended by each party to sway the decision in his or her favour, has to be rigorously examined so as to ensure that it is not tainted by falsity or inaccuracy which, deliberately or unintentionally, the parties may have inflicted. Coming to the judges’ aid, the law itself, both civil and criminal as well as canonical, has over time established a number of guidelines in order to ascertain that all evidence presented to the court is in fact admissible, trustworthy and relevant. Procedural law has also determined, to a large extent, what weight should be given to such evidence, as pointed out by Pope Pius XII in his address to the Roman Rota in 1942: “Procedural law establishes well defined rules of inquiry and proof. Compelling proofs or corroborating evidence are required; others on the other hand are declared to be insufficient; there are special offices and persons charged with the duty of keeping certain rights or facts in mind throughout the trial.” This legal structure was also referred to by Pope John Paul II in 1980, where he had summoned the Ecclesiastical judges to appreciate the guidelines afforded to them by the law itself, in particular when adjudicating causes where the validity of a marriage is being contested. The Pontiff had opined that: “To limit as much as possible the margins of error in fulfilling the precious and delicate service performed by you, the Church has elaborated a procedure which, with the intention of ascertaining the objective truth will, on the one hand, ensure the parties the greatest security in advancing their own arguments, and on the other, consistently respect the divine command: ‘Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate’ (Mk 10:9).”
Appears in Collections:Dissertations - FacThe - 2012

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