In a victory for lenders, a Utah appellate court has ruled that a photocopy of a note is ordinarily acceptable in court, and that a borrower who demands the original note must establish a basis for questioning the authenticity of the copy.

In Howard v. PNC Mortgage, the Utah Court of Appeals rejected a plaintiff’s argument that PNC Mortgage should have been required to produce the original note—not just a photocopy—to support its claim that it is now the holder of the note. Anthony C. Kaye, Angela W. Adams, and Steven D. Burt of Ballard Spahr’s Salt Lake City office represented PNC Mortgage in the appeal.

Although the Utah courts have never addressed the precise question, the three-judge panel found that courts in Connecticut, North Carolina, and Texas have rejected similar arguments.

“Courts have generally concluded that where there is no evidence that photocopies of a note or deed of trust are not exact reproductions of the original instruments, a party need not present the original note or deed of trust and may establish that it is the holder of the instruments by presenting photocopies of the note or deed of trust,” the Utah appellate panel said.

The Utah Rules of Evidence also support the use of copies, the panel said, by declaring that “a duplicate is admissible to the same extent as an original” unless a question is raised as to the duplicate’s authenticity or it would be unfair to admit the duplicate.

In the case against PNC Mortgage, the panel concluded that “there is no question of fact as to whether the note and interest in the trust deed had been transferred to PNC Mortgage.”

Ballard Spahr is home to a preeminent financial services litigation practice. We defend clients nationwide in class actions, single-plaintiff claims, regulatory proceedings, and other complex mortgage litigation.

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For more information, please contact Practice Leader Alan S. Kaplinsky, 215.864.8544 or; Practice Leader Jeremy T. Rosenblum, 215.864.8505 or; or Anthony C. Kaye at 801.531.3069 or


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