Know the Best Evidence Rule
I previously discussed the best evidence rule. Check out the article for more information on this evidentiary rule. It is important to know the best evidence rule when litigating negotiable instruments or even contractual disputes. You do not want to try such a dispute without understanding the application of the best evidence rule.
The recent mortgage foreclosure case of Rattigan v. Central Mortgage Company, 41 Fla. L. Weekly D1312a (Fla. 4th DCA 2016) is an example of the application of the best evidence rule. In this case, the lender at trial failed to introduce the written loan modification to a promissory note that increased the principal amount of the note. The modification to the note was a different instrument than the original note (that was modified). The lender was proceeding on the loan modification and not the original note. The Fourth District held that the lender:
[V]iolated the best evidence rule by virtue of its failure to introduce the [written] modification at trial (either the original or duplicate with an explanation as to why the original note was unavailable…Without the introduction of the modification, all testimony regarding the contents of that modification…was erroneous. As a result, there is no proper evidence in the record which could support the final judgment.
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