Hearsay Rule

Business, Legal & Accounting Glossary

Definition: Hearsay Rule

What is the dictionary definition of Hearsay Rule?

Dictionary Definition

n. the basic rule that testimony or documents which quote persons not in court are not admissible.

Full Definition of Hearsay Rule

Because the person who supposedly knew the facts is not in court to state his/her exact words, the trier of fact cannot judge the demeanour and credibility of the alleged first-hand witness, and the other party’s lawyer cannot cross-examine (ask questions of) him or her. However, as significant as the hearsay rule itself are the exceptions to the rule which allow hearsay testimony such as:

  • a statement by the opposing party in the lawsuit which is inconsistent with what he/she has said in court (called an “admission against interest”);
  • business entries made in the regular course of business, when a qualified witness can identify the records and tell how they were kept;
  • official government records which can be shown to be properly kept;
  • a writing about an event made close to the time it occurred, which may be used during trial to refresh a witness’s memory about the event;
  • a “learned treatise” which means historical works, scientific books, published artworks, maps and charts;
  • judgments in other cases;
  • a spontaneous excited or startled utterance (“oh, God, the bus hit the little girl”);
  • a contemporaneous statement which explains the meaning of conduct if the conduct was ambiguous;
  • a statement which explains a person’s state of mind at the time of an event;
  • a statement which explains a person’s future intentions (“I plan to?.”) if that person’s state of mind is in question;
  • prior testimony, such as in deposition (taken under oath outside of court), or at a hearing, if the witness is not available (including being dead);
  • a declaration by the opposing party in the lawsuit which was contrary to his/her best interest if the party is not available at trial (this differs from an admission against interest, which is admissible in trial if it differs from testimony at trial);
  • a dying declaration by a person believing he/she is dying;
  • a statement made about one’s mental set, feeling, pain or health, if the person is not available-most often applied if the declarant is dead (“my back hurts horribly,” and then dies);
  • a statement about one’s own will when the person is not available;
  • other exceptions based on a judge’s discretion that the hearsay testimony in the circumstances must be reliable.

Cite Term

To help you cite our definitions in your bibliography, here is the proper citation layout for the three major formatting styles, with all of the relevant information filled in.

Page URL
Modern Language Association (MLA):
Hearsay Rule. PayrollHeaven.com. Payroll & Accounting Heaven Ltd. September 22, 2021 https://payrollheaven.com/define/hearsay-rule/.
Chicago Manual of Style (CMS):
Hearsay Rule. PayrollHeaven.com. Payroll & Accounting Heaven Ltd. https://payrollheaven.com/define/hearsay-rule/ (accessed: September 22, 2021).
American Psychological Association (APA):
Hearsay Rule. PayrollHeaven.com. Retrieved September 22, 2021, from PayrollHeaven.com website: https://payrollheaven.com/define/hearsay-rule/

Definition Sources

Definitions for Hearsay Rule are sourced/syndicated and enhanced from:

  • A Dictionary of Economics (Oxford Quick Reference)
  • Oxford Dictionary Of Accounting
  • Oxford Dictionary Of Business & Management

This glossary post was last updated: 28th April, 2020 | 1 Views.