A burden of proof refers to the responsibility each party to a controversy bears in proving its claim, defense (see below), or objection. It refers to that body of law dealing with evidence presented in a formal adjudication of a controversy which tends to prove or disprove a disputed fact. In civil cases, a general rule is that the burden of proof rests with the party advancing the matter to be proved. Courts apply three different standards in determining whether a party has met its burden of proof, discussed below.
In application, a party to a controversy must convince the adjudicative entity (court, jury, arbitrator, administrative law judge) to rule in its favor. It does this by presenting evidence that it believes supports its position. The party typically presents evidence to support each element of the claim or defense it proffers. How much weight and credibility to afford each item of evidence is up to the adjudicative entity before which the evidence is presented.