Can a copy of a legal contract hold up in court if the original can’t be produced?

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Can a copy of a legal contract hold up in court if the original can’t be produced?

My employer is threatening to sue me if I leave to work for a competitor. They said I signed a non-compete, however I know I never did. They can not produce the original document with my signature on it, they said they only have a copy. Will this copy hold up in court if I’m not able to examine the original? They have access to many copies of my signature and must have doctored the non-compete form with a copy of my signature from another signed document.

Asked on February 28, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, New Hampshire

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Yes, the law does not require an original to enforce a contract: copies are enforceable. That said, you can of course (if sued) challenge it on the basis that you never signed it and that is not your signature (or a copy of your signature from an original of the agreement, which you did sign), though without some expert testimony (e.g. you'd have to hire an expert in proving whether documents are false or genuine) to support your contention that they basically "cut and paste" your signature from another document, unless there is something *obvously* (to a layperson) wrong or off about the signature or signature line, you are unlikely to get far with the arguement; the legal presumption is that if it (original or copy) bears your signature, you signed it, unless proven otherwise.


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