fact pleading

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Fact pleading is one of two main systems used in the United States that set requirements for what must be alleged to bring a lawsuit or other claims. Pleading requirements ensure that individuals seeking to bring a claim have sufficient grounds to do so and inform the potential defendant of the claims against them. Fact pleading requires the moving party for a claim or allegation to allege the minimum facts required to succeed on the claim. For example, a claim for a breach of contract in a fact pleading jurisdiction would likely require a pleading of the validity, alleged clause broken, and the specific act that breached the contract. The level of detail in the facts required to be in the pleadings depends on the jurisdiction and the claims being brought. 

Fact pleading is a stricter form of pleading than notice pleading which is used in federal courts and the majority of state courts. Notice pleading requires the moving party to allege the specific issues being brought. The federal court’s notice pleading requirements actually require the moving party to allege enough facts to make a claim plausible, but the federal standard still does not require the specificity and breadth of facts required in fact pleading states. The differences in pleading requirements can make a major difference in the outcome of a case and have been the subject of debate for centuries. The more detailed issues and facts that must be pleaded, the more limited the parties are in getting discovery and arguing their case, but the higher pleading requirements prevent frivolous claims from being brought. Thus, pleading requirements must balance the need for parties to have enough flexibility to bring claims before all the facts can be discovered and ensuring enough facts exist to prevent endless litigation

[Last updated in March of 2023 by the Wex Definitions Team]