In the law of evidence. The presence of those characteristics, or the absence of those disabilities, which render a witness legally fit and qualified to give testimony in a court of justice. The term is also applied, in the same sense, to documents or other written evidence. Competency differs from credibility. The former is a question which arises before considering the evidence given by the witness; the latter concerns the degree of credit to be COMPETENCY 233 COMPLAINT given to his story. The former denotes the personal qualification of the witness; the latter his veracity. A witness may De competent, and yet give incredible testimony; he may be incompetent, and yet his evidence, if received, be perfectly credible. Competency is for the court; credibility for the jury. Yet in some cases, the term “credible” is used as an equivalent for “competent.” Thus, in a statute relating to the execution of wills, the term “credible witness” is held to mean one who is entitled to be examined and to give evidence in a court of justice; not necessarily one who is personally worthy of belief, but one who is not disqualified by imbecility, interest, crime, or other cause. 1 Jarm. Wills, 124; Smith v. Jones. OS Vt 132, 34 Atl. 424; Com. v. Holmes, 127 Mass. 424, 34 Am. Rep. 301. In French law. Competency, as applied to a court, means its right to exercise jurisdiction in a particular case.
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