1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Justification

JUSTIFICATION, in law, the showing by a defendant in a suit of sufficient reason why he did what he was called upon to answer, For example, in an action for assault and battery, the defendant may prove in justification that the prosecutor assaulted or beat him first, and that he acted merely in self-defence. The word is employed particularly in actions for defamation, and has in this connexion a somewhat special meaning. When a libel consists of a specific charge a plea of justification is a plea that the words are true in substance and in fact (see Libel and Slander).