The Principle of Material Truth and Administrative Procedure

  • Boris Ljubanović Pravni fakultet Sveučilišta Josip Juraj Strossmayer u Osijeku, Hrvatska
Keywords: principle, truth, substantive truth, search for truth, procedural authority, administrative procedure, civil proceedings


The principle of searching for material truth, as a product of legal theory, is scientifically justified and acceptable as a method and form (rule) of action to enable true (correct) fact finding; which is the ground upon which the authority legitimately bases its decision. The term truth-seeking emphasizes the methodology or way of establishing a factual situation; i.e., an activity in search of truth. In accordance with the investigative and official principles of the Croatian legal system, an official person deciding in a single case has strong investigative powers and the authority to initiate and decide in single administrative proceedings ex officio; making the principle of searching for material truth an important one.
Although the legal system adopts rules and procedures to enable truth seeking, other procedural rules restrict the pursuit of truth, confining the principle of searching for material truth within the limits set by the law. For example, the civil process is dominated by the principle of debate and the disposition of the
parties. In accordance with these principles, the court is bound by the will of the parties, both as to the established facts and adduced evidence, as well as with regard to the initiation and maintenance of the litigation. Other procedural rules that threaten the knowledge of truth are also accepted. Taking into consideration the numerous rules of civil procedure law that impede real truth seeking and those less numerous allowing for a true (correct) determination of the facts, it may be concluded that unlike administrative proceedings, the principle of seeking material truth in civil proceedings is substantially restricted.