Predecessor in Interest Law and Legal Definition

Predecessor in interest refers to a person or entity who previously held the rights or interests that are now held by another. It is a term sometimes used in the context of allowing hearsay testimony at trial. Under evidentiary rules, an exception to hearsay is former testimony given as a witness at another hearing of the same or a different proceeding . . . if the party against whom the testimony is now offered, or, in a civil action or proceeding, a predecessor in interest, had an opportunity and similar motive to develop the testimony by direct, cross, or redirect examination.

Some courts have defined the term "predecessor in interest" as anyone who had a similar motive and opportunity to develop the testimony, at the time it was given, as the opponent would have at the current trial. Such courts do not require some legal relationship between the prior party and the party against whom the evidence is now offered, and focuses on the similarity of motives between the parties.