COMPETENCY, evidence. The legal fitness or ability of a witness to be heard on the trial of a cause. This term is also applied to written or other evidence which may be legally given on such trial, as, depositions, letters, account-books, and the like.
2. Prima facie every person offered is a competent witness, and must be received, unless Lis incompetency (q. v.) appears. 9 State Tr. 652.
3. There is a difference between competency and credibility. A witness may be competent, and, on examination, his story may be so contradictory and improbable that he may not be believed; on the contrary he may be incompetent, and yet be perfectly credible if he were examined.
4. The court are the sole judges of the competency of a witness, and may, for the purpose of deciding whether the witness is or is not competent, ascertain all the facts necessary to form a judgment. Vide 8 Watts, R. 227; and articles Credibility; Incompetency; Interest; Witness.
5. In the French law, by competency is understood the right in a court to exercise jurisdiction in a particular case; as, where the, law gives jurisdiction to the court when a thousand francs shall be in dispute, the court is competent if, the sum demanded is a thousand francs or upwards, although the plaintiff may ultimately recover less.