Best Evidence Rule Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Best Evidence Rule, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Best Evidence Rule?

(n) Best Evidence Rule is the best and topmost form of evidence which can be produced for verification. Eg. Producing of the original document is the best evidence as against a photo copy of the same.

History and Meaning of Best Evidence Rule

Best Evidence Rule is a legal doctrine that governs the admissibility of evidence in a court of law. The rule is designed to ensure that the most accurate and reliable evidence is presented during trial. The rule requires that the original or a duplicate of the original document be used in court, rather than a copy of that document. The idea behind the rule is that the original document is the best evidence of its contents.

The Best Evidence Rule has its roots in English common law, and was later adopted by American courts. The rule is based on the principle that the best evidence of the contents of a writing, recording, or photograph is the original itself. This is because copies are subject to errors, alterations, or omissions that can affect their accuracy and reliability.

Examples of Best Evidence Rule

  1. In a criminal trial, the prosecution must produce the original copy of a signed confession by the defendant, rather than a photocopy, as evidence to make it admissible.
  2. In a contract dispute, the parties should provide the original document rather than a faxed or scanned copy of the agreement.
  3. A party in a civil case may use a duplicate copy of a document if the original has been lost or destroyed and notice has been given to the other party.

Legal Terms Similar to Best Evidence Rule

  1. Hearsay: Hearsay is an out-of-court statement offered for the truth of the matter asserted, which is not admissible in court, subject to certain exceptions.
  2. Authentication: Authentication is the process of proving that a document or evidence is what it purports to be, and not a fake or forgery.
  3. Chain of custody: Chain of custody is the process of tracking the location and possession of physical evidence from the time it is collected to its presentation in court.