The Rule against Hearsay and its Exceptions

You’ve probably heard of the rule against hearsay, sometimes called popularly “he said, she said.”

What hearsay actually is is an out of court statement offered for the truth of the thing said. In other words, if I testify “he shouted that she was a liar,” the evidence can’t be used as proof that she was a liar. But it can be proof that he shouted (I witnessed that) or that he SAID she was a liar (for purposes of her claim of slander, for example – I witnessed that, too).

In debt litigation, this comes up with business records, which are, after all, things that were written (statements) out of court and offered for the truth of what they say.

Your case will probably depend on applying the rule against hearsay to these documents. There are actually many exceptions, but none will be more important than the business records exception. You must know the hearsay rule and the business records exception in your jurisdiction.

Business Records Exception to the Hearsay Rule

When records are allowed into evidence even though they are hearsay


Excited Utterances and Other Exceptions to the Hearsay Rule

When hearsay is allowed as evidence

This was probably a little over the top in terms of usefulness to you. In debt cases the only evidence rule that consistently comes up is the rule against hearsay and the main exception – the business records exception. You need to know the business records exception completely – and to take a copy of your state’s version of it with you to trial. The other exceptions will just show you how the rules work and so may have at least a little value.