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Witnesses Must Have Personal Knowledge Of What They Say In Court


When you are in a lawsuit and present evidence in favor of your claim, regardless of whether your witness is live and in person to testify, or whether your witnesses will simply fill out an affidavit, your witness must have personal knowledge of whatever it is that they will say in court.

This may seem obvious. But many litigants–including large corporate litigants–are now coming under fire for filing documents where witnesses who are signing documents may not actually have knowledge of what it is that they are signing.

Robo-Signing is a Potential Problem

It’s called “robo-signing,” named after the idea of people robotically signing documents under oath that contact factual allegations that the witnesses actually know nothing about.

For a long time, foreclosing banks were accused of robo signing in order to push through foreclosure cases, and recently, Chase bank is now under fire for using these witnesses to push through debt collection lawsuits.

Chase’s problem–which isn’t unique to Chase by any means–is that when it is filing lawsuits, it needs someone with personal knowledge of the debtor’s or account holder’s account to verify that the amount owed, the charges, and other pieces of information are true and accurate–especially in cases where Chase may not have the original loan paperwork or credit card agreement.

The problem, as is the problem in many large businesses, is that nobody has that information. In other words, there is no one employee at Chase with specialized, personal knowledge of an individual account holder’s account. So how does a business like Chase present someone with personal knowledge to say that an amount owed on a debt is actually true and correct? They rely on people without that knowledge, at least according to some allegations.

Could Robo-Signing Be a Problem For You?

This may not be a problem with smaller businesses, where it may be easy to find an employee that knows about a particular account or about how the business manages its affairs, or to find one officer who personally knows about the records of accounts receivable.

But in large businesses, where things are very much compartmentalized, or where employee turnover may be high, there may not be any one person that knows about customer or client X’s accounts, bills, or the amounts owed.

Keep Good Records

This can be a difficult problem when a larger business needs to sue. Thankfully it is one that can be remedied, simply by keeping accurate records, and keeping the contracts and agreements that are signed–an agreement speaks for itself, and you do not need someone with individual knowledge of an account, or a debt, to testify, if you have the contract or agreement itself.

If you are an assignee of a contract–that is, if you have purchased an account, a debt or the rights to sign a contract–you should try to make sure that with the assignment, are the documents needed to enforce it, if needed.

Call the West Palm Beach business litigation attorneys at Pike & Lustig today for help enforcing your contracts and agreements, or if you are sued for breach of a contract or business agreement.



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