At the fundamental level of legal analysis is the importance of facts as they pertain to a legal argument. Facts represent the groundwork that form the concrete basis by which any legal action can be undertaken. A fact, in its simplest form, is anything that has information relevant to its existence.
Evidence represents any material that can be used to support fact, though until they have been bolstered by a legal interpretation, they do not themselves represent facts. Facts ultimately represent the ideas that have been supported or unsupported by evidence. While in many practical cases, facts and evidence may appear to be ultimately identical, it is important to understand that in legal proceedings, they represent two different things. An important difference is that evidence is open to interpretation, while fact is something that is determined to have happened through the successful completion of a legal argument, usually in the eyes of a court of law.
Analyzing the facts of the case involves examining what evidence can be supported to a legal argument, and then use that information as the basis of a legal argument. The evidence that supports facts must then be applicable as validating the legal elements being argued.
An example of this commonly occurs in criminal situations. Say a prosecutor is faced with needing to determine if someone committed a murder by firearm. They have the firearm and the suspect, and they must determine whether the suspect used the gun to commit the murder.
Of course, all evidence may not be so obvious as what has been presented in the example, and therefore may be open to contrary interpretations and reinterpretations. Say in a case of civil law, where a plaintiff accuses a defendant of having polluted a water supply and causing illness amongst a population. They present as evidence proof of what they say is contaminated water and medical opinions that the people became ill because of it. The defendant’s side could bring in experts to counter those opinions, arguing that the amount of pollution is not substantial and that medical effects were not caused by the pollution. It then becomes the duty of the court which interpretation of the evidence determines actual fact.
As can be seen, facts are crucial to the undertaking of any action, and their ability to be established is directly linked to the success of any legal argument, making them not only important as the end result of a proceeding, but at the outset as well.