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Original Document Must Be Produced, Exceptions

Best Evidence Rule

General Rule:
The original document must be produced.

      When the subject of inquiry is the contents of a document, no
      evidence shall be admissible other than the original document

1. When the original has been lost or destroyed, or cannot be produced
   in court, without bad faith on the part of the offeror
2. When the original is in the custody or under the control of the
   party against whom the evidence is offered, and the latter fails
   to produce it after reasonable notice
3. When the original consists of numerous accounts or other documents
   which cannot be examined in court without great loss of time and
   the fact sought to be established from them is only the general
   result of the whole
4. When the original is a public record in the custody of a public
   officer or is recorded in a public office

Best Evidence Rule
Is that rule which requires the highest grade of evidence obtainable
to prove a disputed fact.

Purpose of the rule requiring the production of the best evidence:
Is the prevention of fraud because if the best evidence is not
presented then the presumption of suppression of evidence will be

NOTE: Best evidence rule applies only when the purpose of the proof
is to establish the terms of writing.

For the application of the best evidence, it is essential that:
The original writing or if it is a private document, be first duly
identified, and a sufficient and a sufficient foundation be laid,
so as to entitle the writing to be admitted in evidence, and it
must be available to the opposite party for cross-examination.

What is the best evidence rule and how is it applied to documents?
SUGGESTED ANSWER: If, possible, the best evidence which the nature
of the case is susceptible shall always be required, if not available,
then the best evidence that can be had shall be allowed.
(Kneedler v. Paterno, 85 Phil. 183; 20 Am. Jur. 364)
      When the subject of inquiry is the contents of a document no
      evidence shall be admissible other than the original itself.
      (Sec.3, Rule 130)

Reason for rule:
The reason for the best evidence rule is to prevent fraud.
(Anglo-American, etc., v. Cannon, 31 Fed. 314).
The best evidence rule is a misnomer because it merely requires the
best evidence that is available, and if not available, secondary
evidence shall be allowed.

Application of best evidence rule:
The best evidence rule applies only to contents of a writing, when
those contents are the facts in issue, and not to its execution which
may be proved by parol testimony or extrinsic papers.
(Hernaez v. Mcgarth, 90 Phil. 565)

Bar Exam 1997
Give the reasons underlying the adoption of the following rules of
c) Best Evidence Rule
   SUGGESTED ANSWER: This Rule is adopted for the prevention of fraud
   and is declared to be essential to the pure administration of
   justice. (Moran,Vol. 5, p. 12.)
   If a party is in possession of such evidence and withholds it,
   the presumption naturally arises that the better evidence is
   withheld for fraudulent purposes.
   (Francisco. Rules of Court, vol. VII. Part I,pp, 121,122)

Bar Exam 1997
When A loaned a sum of money to B. A typed a single copy of the
promissory note, which they both signed. A made two photo (xeroxed)
copies of the promissory note, giving one copy to B and retaining the
other copy. A entrusted the typewritten copy to his counsel for
safekeeping. The copy with A's counsel was destroyed when the law
office was burned.
a) In an action to collect on the promissory note, which is deemed to
   be the "original" copy for the purpose of the "Best Evidence Rule"?
b) Can the photocopies in the hands of the parties be considered
   "duplicate original copies"?
c) As counsel for A, how will you prove the loan given to A and B?

a) The copy that was signed and lost is the only "original" copy for
   purposes of the Best Evidence Rule. (Sec. 4 [b] of Rule 130).
b) No, They are not duplicate original copies because there are
   photocopies which were not signed (Mahilum v.Court of Appeals, 17
   SCRA 482),
   They constitute secondary evidence. (Sec. 5 of Rule 130).
c) The loan given by A to B may be proved by secondary evidence through
   the xeroxed copies of the promissory note. The rules provide that
   when the original document is lost or destroyed, or cannot be
   produced in court, the offerer, upon proof of its execution or
   existence and the cause of its unavailability without bad faith on
   his part, may prove its contents by a copy, or by a recital of its
   contents in some authentic document, or by the testimony of
   witnesses in the order stated. (Sec. 5 of Rule 130).