Best Evidence

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Best Evidence

An original document or object offered as proof of a fact in a lawsuit as opposed to a photocopy of, or other substitute for, the item or the testimony of a witness describing it.

Best evidence, also known as primary evidence, usually denotes an original writing, which is considered the most reliable proof of its existence and its contents. If it is available to, and obtainable by, a party, it must be offered into evidence at a trial. Best evidence is distinguishable from secondary evidence, a reproduction of an original or testimony establishing its existence, which will be admissible as proof only if the best evidence cannot be obtained, and ensuring no fault of the party seeking to present it.

The principle that the best available evidence must be presented as proof in a lawsuit is embodied in the best-evidence rule.

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

BEST EVIDENCE. Means the best evidence of which the nature of the case admits, not the highest or strongest evidence which the nature of the thing to be proved admits of: e. g. a copy of a deed is not the best evidence; the deed itself is better. Gilb. Ev. 15; 3 Campb.. 236; 2 Starkey, 473 2 Campb. 605; 1 Esp. 127.
     2. The rule requiring the best evidence to be produced, is to be understood of the best legal evidence. 2 Serg. & R. 34; 3 Bl. Com. 368, note 10, by Christian. It is relaxed in some cases, as, e. g. where the words or the act of the opposite party avow the fact to be proved. A tavern keeper's sign avows his occupation; taking of tithes avows the clerical character; so, addressing one as The Reverend T. S." 2 Serg. & R. 440 1 Saund. on Plead. & Evid. 49.

A Law Dictionary, Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States. By John Bouvier. Published 1856.
References in classic literature ?
But the best evidence about Farebrother is to see him and hear him."
But the best evidence is afforded by parts or organs of an important and uniform nature occasionally varying so as to acquire, in some degree, the character of the same part or organ in an allied species.
APO agrees with me that old passports are best evidence of identity and join me in despising those who don't agree with me.
The fact that the former secretary general of the Azerbaijan Gymnastics Federation Farid Gaibov became president of the European Gymnastics Union is the best evidence of this," she said.
"Without any evidence to the contrary, the ballots are the best evidence to show the intent of the voters," said Macalintal.
Where a plaintiff filed a motion in limine and sought to compel deposition answers in a property case against his brother, the motion to compel is denied because he did not identify the questions he intended to ask, and the motion in limine is denied because the evidence he sought to bar was not necessarily prohibited by the best evidence rule or statue of frauds.
But Makati RTC Branch 150 Judge Elmo Alameda, in open court, stressed that the application form with Trillanes' information remains as best evidence for the case.
It covers related procedures; the competency of witnesses; authentication; Rule 403 and legal irrelevance limitations on credibility evidence; legal irrelevance limitations on evidence that is relevant to the historical merits of the case; privileges and similar doctrines; the best evidence rule; opinion evidence; the hearsay rule, its exemptions, and exceptions; and substitutes for evidence.
"As young witnesses often need extra support, we have previously made clear that this reform must focus in the first instance on children.This represents a significant change to the law and practice, which justice organisations will need to implement in a managed way in order to achieve our aim of ensuring witnesses can give their best evidence, while protecting the rights of the accused."
It also assailed the Sandiganbayan's exclusion of its evidentiary evidence on the ground of the best evidence rule.
"Mark Osaki brings a rich poetic voice to his collection of poems in his recent book 'Best Evidence'.