When evidence is introduced in Court, one critical element that must be established is the authenticity of the evidence. When the evidence changes hands from one party to another, that is the beginning of a concept called "Chain of Custody", and that chain must not be broken. The reason the Chain of Custody must be intact is that it eliminates (or isolates) the possibility of altering or falsifying the evidence. The ideal Chain of Custody would be like this: Q (to Mr Jones, President of OC): Are you the person who issued that invoice? A. Yes. Q: What did you do with the account? A. I sold the account to JDB1 on July 15, 2004 Q (to Mr Doe, President of JDB1): Did your company purchase this invoice? A. Yes, on July 15, 2004 Q: Is this a true and correct copy of what your company purchased? A. Yes. Q: What did your company subsequently do with the account? A. We sold it on August 9, 2005 to JDB2. Q (to Mr Roe, President of JDB2): Did your company purchase this invoice? A. Yes, on August 9, 2005. Q: Is this a true and correct copy of what your company purchased? A. Yes. Q: What did your company subsequently do with the account? A. We sold it on January 11, 2006 to JDB3. Q (to Mr Poe, President of JDB3): Did your company purchase this invoice? A. Yes, on January 11, 2006. Q: Is this a true and correct copy of what your company purchased? A. Yes. Q: What did your company subsequently do with the account? A. We presently are the owners of that account and are suing to collect the balance. This is a Chain of Custody. Notice the following: 1. The invoice is the evidence in question. 2. It takes a Human Being to testify as to the authenticity of that invoice. 3. The human being must have first-hand knowledge as to what is being testified to about that invoice. 4. That there are people there to testify as to the ownership and conduct around that invoice from its creation to the time of the trial. The "Chain of Custody" is unbroken. Notice that the testimony did NOT go like this: Q (to Mr Poe, President of JDB3): Do you recognize this invoice? A. Yes. My company purchased it from JDB2 on January 11, 2006. Q: Can you authenticate it? A: I was told by Mr Roe of JDB2 that he was told by Mr Doe of JDB1 that Mr Jones of OC assured him it was authentic. Q: So you have no first-hand knowledge on your own that this invoice is authentic, do you. A. No. In this instance the Chain of Custody has been broken. It was broken at JDB1, because there is the point where the ability to authenticate the evidence is lost - there is no person to testify to its authenticity. Merely being assured that it is authentic by someone else who has no first-hand knowledge of that authenticity is not sufficient. This is called "hear-say" evidence, and it is not admissible. The Achilles Heel that the JDB's have in Court is the Chain of Custody. The burden is on the party introducing the evidence to establish its authenticity, and by attacking the Chain of Custody, you will force a JDB to bring in Officers of all previous owners of the debt to establish the authenticity of the debt. If they can't (because the company is out of business and no officers can be located) or won't (because of the cost of bringing these people to the Court) then there is no one to testify as to the authenticity of the evidence and the Chain of Custody is broken. After establishing that the Chain of Custody is intact, the next question involves how the records were maintained and protected. This will necessarily have to be testified to by a Officer of the OC, since that is where the alleged debt was created and the books and records of the matter originated. What would this Office have to testify to? Generally, the following: 1. That the Officer testifying has personal knowledge of the methods used by the OC to maintain their accounts; 2. That the Officer testifying was employed by the OC ina capacity to have the knowledge in #1 at the time the alleged debt was created and thereafter until it was sold, and 3. That the officer in question personally examined the books and records as to this exact matter and has personal first-hand knowledge (like when the debt was incured, in what dollar amount, at what place, what was purchased with the debt, etc.... So, in a nutshell, here is the burden of proof the JDB has at trial: 1. They have to bring in as witnesses people who were officers of the OC at the time the alleged debt was created and at alltimes thereafter until it was sold who have first hand knowledge of the accounting policies, procedures and controls (no Marketing executives, please), plus 2. They have to bring in as witnesses people who were officers of each and every subsequent owner of the debt who were officers at the time each and every subsequent owner of the debt owned the debt to testify as to their first-hand knowledge of what their company purchased, when and how its accounts were maintained (once again, no Marketing executives, please) Then, each witness has to so testify (at the JDB's expense) as to their knowledge. You have the right to cross-examine each witness and impeach (bring into question) their testimony. How would you do that? You can (and should) determine that they were in fact employed by the company they say they were at the time the alleged debt was with that company; You can (and should) determine that they were employed in a position and capacity that would enable them to testify as to their own personal knowledge of their employer's recordkeeping and accounting practices; You can (and should) determine that they in fact remember the matter at hand - not what they were told to say. If they are familar with the account, they should be familiar with all aspects of the account (and you will get all this in Discovery, which you have already put the JDB through). Not remembering one detail brings into question the memory of all details. Q. Mr Jones - you testified that I allegedly purchased a sofa. What model and color? A:........ Q. Don't your records or memory indicate that? If you remember to the penny what this alleged sofa cost, why can't you remember details like the date it was allegedly delivered, its model or its color, or to where it was allegedly delivered? A:....... This works not only on the OC's officers, but on the JDB's also. Q. Mr Poe, you testified that your company purchased 1,750 accounts on January 11, 2006 and that this alleged debt was one of them. You also testified that you are familiar with all the debts purchased by your company on that date. Other than my name, address, social security number, amount allegedly owed and the company it is allegedly owed to, what else do you recall about this alleged debt purchase? Once again, if they will testify that they are familiar with the matter, they should recall it. There probably will be nothing else because that is what the JDB typically purchases. In summary, the concept of the Chain of Custody of a debt is a serious problem for a JDB in Court because of the trouble, time and expense of bringing the witnesses to Court who can establish the Chain of Custody. This weakness can be used to obtain a favorable settlement: "You have a choice - settle with me for 5 cents on the dollar - knowing you paid 2 cents - and save yourself the expense of a long drawn out trial where you will have to fly witnesses from the OC and every prior JDB in to testify - or see ya in Court." The above post is from a very reputable and highly regarded member from anohter site. The chain of custody is just as important in arbitration as it is in court.